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New Mexico Leopold Conservation Award Seeks Nominees

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

The 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 New Mexico, the $10,000 award is presented with New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, Quivira Coalition, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, and New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Working Lands (NMCEWL).

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.

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may apply themselves.

The application can be found at

The application deadline is May 15, 2024. The application can be completed online or emailed to If mailed, applications must be postmarked by May 15, 2024, and mailed to:

Leopold Conservation Award

c/o Quivira Coalition

1413 Second Street, Suite 1

Santa Fe, NM 87505

Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders from New Mexico. Ranchers Tom and Mimi Sidwell of Tucumcari received the award in 2023.

“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 and ranchers seldom ask for recognition for their efforts to steward land, water, and natural resources for the benefit of us all,” said Larry Reagan, New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau President. “We believe these efforts and individuals should be celebrated, which is why we are a proud partner of the New Mexico Leopold Conservation Award. We encourage farmers and ranchers to nominate someone or apply themselves to share their conservation story and be acknowledged for their innovation and dedication to our working lands.”

“The Leopold Conservation Award offers an opportunity to spotlight the work of farmers and ranchers who steward land, water, and community. At Quivira Coalition, and as a leading member of the New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Working Lands, we’re excited to celebrate collaborative conservation in New Mexico at a time when we desperately need this type of work,” said Sarah Wentzel-Fisher, Quivira Coalition Executive Director.

“We are proud to recognize the hard work that farmers and ranchers do every day to improve our natural resources,” said Josh Smith, NMACD President.

“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 New Mexico Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Sand County Foundation, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, Quivira Coalition, New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Working Lands, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services of New Mexico, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, American AgCredit, and Taos Ski Valley Foundation.

For more information on the award, visit

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.

NEW MEXICO ASSOCIATION OF CONSERVATION DISTRICTS’ mission is to facilitate the conservation of natural resources in New Mexico by providing opportunities and quality support to local conservation districts and partners through representation and leadership.

NEW MEXICO COALITION TO ENHANCE WORKING LANDS (CEWL) is a network of groups and individuals whose purpose is to support and enhance ongoing efforts to improve the health and productivity of New Mexico workings lands that support agriculture and the environment. Our focus is to increase soil health, biodiversity, and hydrologic function wherever possible.

NEW MEXICO FARM & LIVESTOCK BUREAU’S mission is to strengthen and serve agriculture to enrich the lives of all New Mexicans.

QUIVIRA COALITION works in coalition with ranchers, farmers, government agencies, and land stewards to foster resilience on working lands through education, innovation, and collaboration.

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.