ALBANY — New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that applications are open for New York State’s 2022 Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Leopold Conservation Award. Presented by the Sand County Foundation, the award 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.
Commissioner 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 influential 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, 2022. 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/
John Piotti, AFT President and CEO, 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.”
Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer, 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.
About the Leopold Conservation Award Program
The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. The Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, 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). Learn more at www.leopoldconservationaward.
About the Sand County Foundation
The 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. To learn more about their work, visit www.sandcountyfoundation.org.
About the New York State AEM Award
New York State’s annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by county Soil and Water Conservation Districts from around the state. The first Agricultural Environmental Management Award was presented in 2002; prior to that, the award was known as the Agricultural Stewardship Award.
New York State’s AEM framework is a model for the nation as a voluntary, incentive-based approach to protect natural resources and meet the economic needs of the agricultural community.
About American Farmland Trust
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 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. www.farmland.org
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets