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New York State Agriculture Commissioner Announces Applications Being Accepted for 2024 AEM-Leopold Conservation Award
Nebraska Ag Connection - 02/12/2024

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced applications are being accepted for New York State’s fifth annual Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Leopold Conservation Award. Presented in partnership with Sand County Foundation, the award honors a farm and its nominating Soil and Water Conservation District for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In New York, the $10,000 award is presented in partnership with national sponsor American Farmland Trust, and state partner Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Commissioner Ball said, “Many of our New York farming families have long been dedicated to best practices that protect our natural resources and conserve our environment, both on their farms and in their communities. I encourage eligible farms to work with their local Soil and Water Conservation District to apply for the AEM-Leopold Conservation award so their efforts can be recognized and celebrated.”

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers 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.

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to farmers in 27 states. In New York, the longstanding AEM Award joined with the Leopold Conservation Award program in 2020, most recently awarding Dygert Farms and the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2023.

Applications for the New York AEM-Leopold Conservation Award are now being accepted, with county Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) applying on behalf of farms. Eligible candidates successfully incorporate AEM best management practices into the management of their farm, assisting the farmer in meeting business and environmental goals. Applicants should demonstrate conservation leadership and outreach in the agricultural sector and be an inspiration to other farmers. Applications must be received by May 15, 2024.

Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of conservation leaders. Interested candidates should contact their local county Soil and Water Conservation District. Contact information can be found at

The application can be found at

“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,” said John Piotti, American Farmland Trust 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.”

“Recipients of this award are examples of how Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO.

The AEM-Leopold Conservation Award Program in New York is made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Sand County Foundation, The Ida and Robert Gordon Family Foundation, Farm Credit East, Audubon New York, McDonald’s, New York State Agribusiness Association, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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