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Serving: KS
Ted Alexander of Sun City standing in field P.J. Griekspoor
2019 WINNER: Ted Alexander of Sun City was the 2019 Leopold Award Winner for his tireless work on restoration of the ecosystem of the mixed grass prairie through an extensive program of removal of eastern red cedar trees and prescribed burning.

Finalists chosen for 2020 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award

Vance and Louise Ehmke, Josh and Gwen Hoy, and Dwane Roth all vie for the conservation award.

Three finalists have been selected for the 2020 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife resources in their care.  

In Kansas, the $10,000 award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas.

The finalists are:

Vance and Louise Ehmke of Healy in Lane County. The Ehmkes remain profitable while conserving soil and water by experimenting with crops like triticale. This cross between wheat and rye is popular as cattle feed and produces enough crop residue to protect fields from soil erosion.

With more than 50 playas on their land, the Ehmkes are involved in research, education and outreach on playas’ contribution to recharging the Ogallala aquifer. They also have hundreds of acres for migratory bird and pollinator habitat.  

Josh and Gwen Hoy of Cedar Point in Chase County. At Flying W Ranch, the Hoys rotationally graze their beef cattle to create grassland bird habitat. Unique partnerships with conservation groups and neighbors have improved the quality of the local watershed and prevented the development of the Flint Hills.

The Hoys have hosted large events on their ranch to promote the ecological value of controlled burns, and the conservation of tallgrass prairie.

Dwane Roth of Manhattan in Riley County. Roth owns Big D Farms in Finney County. He uses cover crops to build soil health and combat wind erosion on sandy soils.

As one of Kansas’ first Water Technology Farmers, he is passionate about addressing declining water levels and extending the life of the Ogallala aquifer. His participation involves researching and testing new irrigation strategies and technologies that maintain crop production while reducing water usage.   

The Kansas Leopold Conservation Award will be presented at the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts’ 76th Annual Convention in Wichita in November. The award recipient will receive $10,000 and a crystal award.

“Kansas Association of Conservation Districts is excited to recognize these outstanding landowners who are committed to conservation on their land,” says Dan Meyerhoff, KACD executive director. “We are proud to partner with Sand County Foundation and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas to give these families the recognition they deserve."

“The Ranchland Trust of Kansas congratulates the finalists for the Leopold Conservation Award. RTK is proud to be a supporter of this award showcasing and celebrating the achievements of landowners who invest and succeed in conservation efforts of private lands,” says Chelsea Good, Ranchland Trust of Kansas vice chairperson.

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” says Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation president and CEO. “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 Kansas award finalists,” says 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 first Kansas Leopold Conservation Award recipient was named in 2015. The 2019 recipient was Ted Alexander of Sun City.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Kansas is made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, Sand County Foundation, Evergy, Farm Credit Associations of Kansas, ITC Great Plains, Kansas Department of Agriculture (Division of Conservation), Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Kansas Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service of Kansas, McDonald’s, The Nature Conservancy, and a Kansas Leopold Conservation Award recipient.

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 leopoldconservationaward.org

The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont).

Sand County Foundation inspires and enables 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.

Source: Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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