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Leopold Conservation Award Comes to the Carolinas

A prestigious award program celebrating voluntary conservation on farmland and forestland is coming to the Carolinas.

The Leopold Conservation Award® recognizes agricultural landowners who inspire others with their dedication to ethical land, water and wildlife habitat management. The award is named in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac”, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust annually present the Leopold Conservation Award to farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners in 27 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In North Carolina and South Carolina the award is presented with state partners: Carolina Farm Trust and Soil Regen.

Owners of farm and forest land in North Carolina and South Carolina may apply for the award themselves or be nominated by another party. The Carolinas application can be found at

Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders from North and South Carolina. The application deadline is July 1, 2023.

The recipient receives $10,000, and their conservation success story will be featured in a video and in other outreach. The recipient will be revealed at a special event in September.

“We are proud to be part of the effort to bring the Leopold Conservation Award to the Carolinas and showcasing our farming community’s efforts in regenerative farming,” said Zack Wyatt, Carolina Farm Trust President and CEO.

“Soil Regen believes that the foundation of ag starts from the ground up,” said Liz Haney of Soil Regen. “We are honored to support the many and varied conservationists celebrated with the Leopold Conservation Award. They are the true stewards of the land.”

“Leopold Conservation Award recipients are examples of how Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO.

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of farmers, ranchers and forestland owners,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

The Carolina Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of Carolina Farm Trust, Soil Regen, American Farmland Trust, Trane Technologies, Wells Fargo, and Sand County Foundation.

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LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD PROGRAM is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont).

AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through its No Farms, No Food message. Since its founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families.

CAROLINA FARM TRUST works to bring fresh, bountiful, locally-grown food to your plate. Our approach is comprehensive and collaborative. We work alongside our partners, farmers and growers, farms, markets, and consumers as we strive to make our region a global leader in local food production and consumption.

SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION inspires and empowers a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean and abundant water, healthy soil to support agriculture and forestry, plentiful habitat for wildlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

SOIL REGEN is a “farmer first” company focused on providing farmers, ranchers and the food and agricultural community education, consulting, and Regenerative Verification. By partnering with nature and utilizing holistic management practices we can improve producer profitability, human health, resilience to climate, carbon storage, water quality and quantity.

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