Aldo Leopold, whose writings and land ownership inspire Sand County Foundation’s devotion to the cause of private landowner conservation leadership, wrote that the landscape of any farm is the owner’s portrait of himself. The Leopold Conservation Awards honor landowners who work ceaselessly to paint beautiful landscapes across our nation.

The Leopold Conservation Awards recognize landowners actively committed to a land ethic. Working with prominent state conservation partners, Sand County Foundation presents the award, which consists of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal, in settings that showcase the landowners’ achievements among their peers.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska is possible thanks to generous contributions from many organizations, including: Cargill, Farm Credit Services of America, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Cattlemen Research & Education Foundation, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Nebraska Land Trust, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund.


2018 Call for Applications

If you, or someone you know, is a Nebraska landowner who is committed to land management practices that increase conservation, we invite your application for the Leopold Conservation Award.

Complete application requirements and specifications can be found here.




2016 Leopold Conservation Award Winners - Plum Thicket Farm


Located on the northern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills is Plum Thicket Farms, a diverse crop farm and cattle ranch owned and managed by Rex and Nancy Peterson, and their son Patrick and his wife Krista.


The farm sits atop 2,300 acres of carefully managed pasture and cropland. When the Petersons purchased the property in 1998, they were cautioned about its vulnerabilities to drought and blizzards. The family immediately set out to take important steps to make the pastures drought-resilient, developing water sources, cross fencing implement a deferred rest rotation grazing system, and planting and fencing windbreaks.

Under Patrick’s leadership, the farm was transformed to no-till to prevent erosion and improve water retention, despite knowing the crop yields would initially take a hit. After eleven years, their investment in no-till management is paying off. Read more...