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South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award Seeks Nominees

Nominations and applications are now being accepted for the 2024 South Dakota 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 South Dakota, the award is presented with the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition.

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 6, 2024. Applications can be emailed to If mailed, applications must be postmarked by March 6 and mailed to:

Leopold Conservation Award

c/o South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association

P.O. Box 1258

Pierre, SD 57501

Selected recipients must be available to host a tour and video production team during the summer and participate in a fall award presentation.

The 2023 recipient of the award was Slovek Ranch of Philip.

The Leopold Conservation Award Program in South Dakota made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Grassland Coalition, Sand County Foundation, South Dakota Farmers Union, First Dakota National Bank, South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks; South Dakota State University College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Audubon Great Plains, Bad River Ranches, Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership, Blair Brothers Angus Ranch, Cammack Ranch, Daybreak Ranch, Ducks Unlimited, Jim and Karen Kopriva, McDonald’s, Millborn Seeds, North Central SARE-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Professional Alliance, South Dakota Agricultural Land Trust, South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts, South Dakota Pheasants Forever, South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, South Dakota Soybean Association, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Partners for Fish and Wildlife, and Wagner Land & Livestock.

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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, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, 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 land owners and managers to ethically care for the land to sustain water resources, build healthy soil, enhance wildlife habitat, and support outdoor recreation.

The South Dakota Cattlemen's Association is a member-driven organization working to advance and protect the interests of all cattlemen.

The South Dakota Grassland Coalition is a non-profit organization that seeks the voluntary improvement of grasslands for the long-term needs of the resource and its various species. The South Dakota Grassland Coalition is dedicated to improving and maintaining the state’s grasslands by informing and guiding grassland managers to make cost-effective and environmentally sound management decisions.