Land Ethic Mentorship

"The rich diversity of the world's cultures reflects a corresponding diversity in the wilds that gave them birth." -- Aldo Leopold

Lem Program 4C Hor
Mentorship Piece

Land Ethic Mentor - Paul Muller

Conservation-minded landowners are sharing their knowledge by serving as mentors for historically underserved farmers and ranchers.

Since 2003, the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award has recognized nearly 160 farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners nationwide for their efforts to improve soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat.

“Leopold Conservation Award recipients are ambassadors who regularly discuss the importance of agricultural conservation with their peers and the general public. This project will empower our network of award recipients to share a range of knowledge, from how to apply for an NRCS conservation program to technical assistance, with an important audience,” said Dr. Heidi Peterson, Sand County Foundation’s Vice President of Agricultural Research and Conservation.

“Historically underserved farmers and ranchers face many challenges. Knowing someone to ask about a conservation practice can build confidence and have a lasting impact,” said Dick Cates, a Wisconsin farmer who received the Leopold Conservation Award in 2013.

The project’s title, “Empowering Landowners by Advancing a Land Ethic,” is a nod to renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land. He inspired landowners to adopt what he called “a land ethic”: a moral responsibility to treat land, water and wildlife with respect.

For a list of the conservation mentors, click here.

A $250,000 Conservation Collaboration Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is funding Sand County Foundation’s two-year pilot project to promote conservation outreach by its award recipients.

For more information about sponsoring or participating in the program, contact Dr. Heidi Peterson at

For more information about the Leopold Conservation Award, contact Lance Irving at

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