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Looking for the next Leopold leaders

4R Field Day, Oetting Farms, Concordia and corn harvest on farm of Kenny & Mary NiermanKnown as conservation leaders in the state, the Oetting family of Concordia were named the 2021 Leopold Award winners for Missouri. From left are Steve and his wife, Sharon; sons Sean and Clint and his wife, Veronica. The Oettings also have a daughter, Stephanie, who lives in Richmond, Va. Nominations are now being accepted for 2022.Applications are now being accepted for the 2022 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award Program, recognizing farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who go above and beyond in the care and management of natural resources. Nominees could win a $10,000 award for their efforts.

The Sand County Foundation, a nonprofit conservation orga­nization, presents the Leopold Award in 23 states based on such criteria as innovation, adaptability, resilience, leadership and communications. Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of agricul­tural organizations including MFA Incorporated, partners with the foundation to bring the award to the Show-Me State.

In Missouri, the 2021 winner was Oetting Homestead Farms of Concordia, Mo. Previous state award recipients are the Yoder family of Leonard in 2020, the Brinker family of Auxvasse in 2019, the Scherder family of Frankford in 2018 and the Lam­bert family of Laclede in 2017.

“Missouri farmers and ranchers are continually striving through their stewardship to support long-term viability and productive capacity of their operations,” said Jeff Houts, chair­man of Missouri Farmers Care. “We are honored to highlight innovative leaders who are utilizing stewardship practices to meet an ultimate goal: improving land, air, water, habitat and land for the future generations of land stewards.”

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

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conserva­tion-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand Coun­ty Foundation president and chief executive officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may nominate themselves. The application can be found at sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA or MOFarmersCare.com/lca. Submit applications online (pre­ferred) or mail to Missouri Farmers Care Foundation, 19171 State Highway 11, Kirksville, MO 63501. All applications must be submitted or postmarked by June 30, 2022.

Finalists will be announced in September with plans to pres­ent the award in November 2022.

More information on the award and its recipients can be found at sandcountyfoundation.org.

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