New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced applications are open for the 2022 Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Leopold Conservation Award. The accolade honors a farm and its nominating soil and water conservation district for extraordinary achievement in environmental stewardship. The $10,000 award is provided by the Sand County Foundation, in partnership with the department, American Farmland Trust (AFT), and Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Ball said, “New York’s AEM-Leopold Conservation Award is a great way to honor our state’s farmers who work so hard to protect our environment, preserve and promote soil health and water quality, and leave the land better than they found it. I thank the Sand County Foundation and all of our partners for their teamwork in awarding on-farm environmental efforts in New York State, and encourage eligible farms to work with their local soil and water conservation district to apply.”
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land. In his 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. The Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 23 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.
Applications for the New York AEM-Leopold Conservation Award are now being accepted, with county soil and water conservation districts applying on behalf of farms. Eligible candidates successfully incorporate AEM best management practices into the management of the farm, which also assist the landowner in meeting business and environmental goals. Applicants should demonstrate conservation leadership and outreach in the agricultural sector and be an inspiration to other landowners.
Applications for the New York AEM Leopold Conservation Award must be received by the department by May 1. Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of conservation leaders. Interested candidates should contact their local county soil and water conservation district to learn more. the application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA.
AFT President and CEO John Piotti said, “As a 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. 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.”
Sand County Foundation President and CEO Kevin McAleese said, “Recipients of this award are real-life examples of conservation-minded agriculture. These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system, and rural economy.”
The AEM-Leopold Conservation Award Program in New York is made possible thanks to the support of American Farmland Trust, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Sand County Foundation, the Ida and Robert Gordon Family Foundation, Farm Credit East, New York State Agribusiness Association, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Audubon New York.