HARRISBURG, Pa. — Three finalists have been selected for the 2020 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award®.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat resources in their care.
In Pennsylvania, the $10,000 award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, The Heinz Endowments, and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. The finalists are:
- Brubaker Farms of Mount Joy in Lancaster County: Mike, Tony and Josh Brubaker’s farm is home to 1,300 milking cows and 52,000 broiler chickens. By implementing cover crops and no-till practices across their 1,800 acres they have protected water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat. Their conservation efforts have improved a waterway into becoming a highly productive trout stream. A methane digester converts manure into electricity for the farm and 325 area homes. A dragline manure application system supplies soil with fertilizer while reducing soil compaction.
- Glen Cauffman of Millerstown in Perry County: Cauffman grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa hay on a 190-acre farm with diverse topography and soils. A herd of 300 Angora goats produce luxury yarn for the fashion industry. No-till practices have been utilized since 1984 to prevent erosion, enhance water infiltration and improve soil health. Cover crops and crop rotation provide ecosystem diversity. Wetlands were created to provide wildlife and bird habitat. Cauffman previously served as manager of Penn State University’s farm operation facilities.
- Slate Ridge Dairy Farm of Saint Thomas in Franklin County: Dairy farmer Ben Peckman has used cover crops to improve the soil’s ability to infiltrate and hold water. Grants and cost-share programs from conservation stakeholders have allowed him to install pollinator plots, solar panels, manure storage facilities, a silage leachate collection system, and a methane digester on a mid-sized dairy. In addition to demonstrating how to plant corn into living cover crops, he partnered with Penn State Extension to study how grazing cover crops impacts soil health.
The award will be presented virtually during this winter’s Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
“The Heinz Endowments’ sustainability program promotes community health and vitality through sustainable food systems, and as part of this work we are pleased to cosponsor the Leopold Conservation Award. We believe the Leopold Conservation Award, and the outstanding leadership in agriculture that it recognizes, plays an important role in encouraging the continued growth of Pennsylvania’s sustainable agriculture movement,” said Andrew McElwaine, Vice President of Sustainability for Heinz Endowments.
“Glen Cauffman, Ben Peckman, and the Brubaker family exemplify the conservation ethic of Pennsylvania agriculture,” Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert said. “Farmers embrace conservation because we know that healthy land and natural resources are our partners in producing quality food, fuel and fiber. We want our farms to remain productive for generations to come. These three finalists are receiving well-deserved recognition for their innovative approaches to improving soil health, protecting water quality, preserving natural habitats and generating clean energy.”
“Pennsylvania farmers have made great strides toward protecting our water, soil and land resources for future generations,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “These finalists for the Leopold Conservation Award exemplify the culture of stewardship that characterizes Pennsylvania farmers. They are models of how we should all strive toward a sustainable future.”
“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”
“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Pennsylvania award finalists,” 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.”
Applications were submitted by landowners, or on behalf of a landowner. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.
The 2019 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award was presented earlier this year to Mt-Glen Farms of Columbia Crossroads in Bradford County.
The Leopold Conservation Award in Pennsylvania is made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, The Heinz Endowments, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Sand County Foundation, USDA NRCS, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, and The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania.
In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”
Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 21 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. For more information, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.
–Liam Migdail, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau