AGRICULTURE: Purposes accepted for conservation award | Farm


Applications are currently being accepted for New York State’s 2023 Agricultural Environmental Management Leopold Conservation Award. Presented in partnership with the Sand County Foundation, the annual 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.

In announcing that applications were being accepted, state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, “The distinguished New York AEM-Leopold Conservation award is a great way to honor our state’s farmers who work hard to protect our environment and combat climate change; preserve soil health and water quality; and leave the land better than they found it.”

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners 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. The Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 25 states. In New York, the longstanding AEM Award joined with the Leopold Conservation Award program in 2020, most recently awarding Greenfield Farms of Skaneateles in 2022.

Applications for the New York AEM Leopold Conservation Award are now being accepted, with county Soil and Water Conservation Districts applying on behalf of the farm. Applicants should demonstrate conservation leadership and outreach in the agricultural sector and be an inspiration to other landowners.

Applications must be received by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets by May 27. They 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 the 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.”

Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO said, “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.”

New York AEM Award New York State’s annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by County Soil and Water Conservation Districts from around the state. The first Agricultural Environmental Management Award was presented in 2002; prior to that, it was known as the Agricultural Stewardship Award. New York State’s AEM framework is a model for the nation as a voluntary, incentive-based approach to protect natural resources and meet the economic needs of the agricultural community.


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