Wisconsin's 2015 Leopold Conservation Award was presented to David and Leslie Meuer on Dec. 6 at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting in Wisconsin Dells. The Meuers received a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold and $10,000. The award honors Wisconsin landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.
The couple, who were finalists for the award last year, said they were thrilled to learn they had won the award.
"We are excited about winning the award and the opportunities it will bring," Leslie said. "We hope it will put Calumet County in the spotlight."
The Meuers own and manage a diverse farm south of Chilton along the east shore of Lake Winnebago. They raise beef cattle and chickens, produce a variety of crops such as specialty grains, hay, alfalfa and strawberries and host visitors at their corn maze and pumpkin patch. They also host farm-to-table dinners during the summer months and bring in local chefs to prepare meals featuring produce grown on the farm.
The Meuers installed stream bank fencing along the stream running through their property, which provides water for their cows. The fencing has reduced soil loss, keeping the stream cleaner as it heads to nearby Lake Winnebago. For several years the Meuers have let their pastures grow naturally, allowing native grasses to flourish and seeds deposited by birds to grow into apple trees and gooseberry shrubs. The trees provide ample habitat for their bees and other pollinators that pollinate their strawberry fields.
"The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is pleased to support this important award," said Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Jim Holte. "Conservation is top of mind for farmers. Farm Bureau is very happy to recognize the Meuers for taking the responsibility of caring for their land and natural resources to a higher level."
"The Meuers not only understand the importance of resource protection, they practice it in all they do on the farm," said Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association Executive Director Jim VandenBrook.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It inspires other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. 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 Leopold Conservation Awards in 10 states including Wisconsin, California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
The Leopold Conservation Award in Wisconsin is made possible through the generous support of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Badgerland Financial, Alliant Energy Foundation, American Transmission Company, Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, DuPont Pioneer, The Mosaic Company and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.