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Montana Leopold Conservation Award Seeks Applicants

Nominations and applications are now being accepted for the 2024 Montana Leopold Conservation Award®.

The $10,000 award honors ranchers, farmers and forestland owners who go above and beyond in their management of soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat on working land.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 27 states. In Montana, the award is presented with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and the Montana Rangeland Resources Committee.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to environmental improvement. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for what he called “a land ethic,” an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Award nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may nominate themselves. The application can be found at

The application deadline is March 1, 2024. Applications can be emailed to or postmarked by March 1, 2024, and mailed to:

Leopold Conservation Award

c/o Rangeland Resources Program Coordinator

Dept. of Natural Resources & Conservation

P.O. Box 414

Clyde Park, MT 59018

Applications are reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. Last year’s recipient was Kurt and PJ Myllymaki of Stanford.

The Montana Leopold Conservation Award was made possible through the generous support of the American Farmland Trust, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Montana Rangeland Resources Committee, Sand County Foundation, Sibanye-Stillwater, AgWest Farm Credit, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, C Lazy J Livestock, Ducks Unlimited, Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, McDonald’s, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, Soil and Water Conservation Society, Western Landowners Alliance, Western Sustainability Exchange, and World Wildlife Fund.

“These 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.

“Farmers, producers, and forestland owners have a rich heritage and connection to the health and wellbeing of land across Montana. We hope that recognition of their dedication helps others implement such impactful practices on their own land,” said Amanda Kaster, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director.

“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.”

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The Leopold Conservation Award 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 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families.


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.