Sharing the conservation commitment

Scherder Farms honored with 2018 Leopold Award for efforts to promote stewardship    

Scherder Farms of Frankford, Mo., received the 2018 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award on Jan. 10 at the 48th Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture. Pictured from left are Lance Irving, Sand County Foundation National Director for the Leopold Conservation Award; Sandy and John Scherder; their daughter and son-in-law, Holly and Curtis Delgman; and Missouri Farmers Care Executive Director Ashley McCarty. Scherder Farms of Frankford, Mo., was named winner of the 2018 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award, which honors Missouri farmers’ achievement in voluntary stewardship and natural resources management.

John and Sandy Scherder farm with their daughter and son-in-law, Holly and Curtis Delgman, growing corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, and beef cattle on 3,500 acres in the Peno Creek watershed. The family implements conservation practices including cover crops, innovative seeding methods and crop rotations to preserve wildlife habitat, promote soil health and reduce erosion. Other conservation practices include constructing grass waterways, terraces and sediment basin structures.

“We are honored at Scherder Farms to be nominated and to receive this very prestigious award,” John said. “However, the soil conservation practices we have implemented were not done for money or recognition, but rather to conserve and improve the land we have been using for the past 40 years and to leave it better than we found it. Our hope is that it can be sustainably used by future generations with the practices put in place by this generation.”

Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of agricultural organizations, including MFA Incorporated, partners with the Sand County Foundation to bring the Leopold award to the Show-Me State. Other finalists for the award this year were Kenny Brinker of Auxvasse and Haubein Farms of Lockwood. Uptown Farms of Laclede received the first Leopold Award presented in Missouri in 2017.

“We congratulate the Scherder family on receiving this distinguished award in recognition of their exemplary stewardship efforts,” said Gary Marshall, chairman of Missouri Farmers Care. “John and Sandy are firmly committed to preserving and improving the land and water for future generations. We are proud to showcase their achievements and continue working alongside our partners to promote the innovative conservation practices being implemented by today’s farmers.”

The Sand County Foundation created the award in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold to inspire American landowners by recognizing exceptional farmers, ranchers and foresters. Leopold’s 1949 collection of essays, “A Sand County Almanac,” is one of the most influential books about the environment ever written. His namesake award has been presented annually since 2003 by the Sand County Foundation, which was established in 1965 to preserve the Wisconsin property where Leopold did his writing and research. The organization now supports and promotes conservation on working lands across the U.S. and presents the Leopold award in 14 states.

In Missouri, the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, Missouri Farmers Care, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Scherders were honored with a $10,000 award and commemorative crystal trophy Jan. 10 at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture.

“John shows his commitment to the land on his farm and his passion for innovation in his service to his fellow farmers,” said Robert Alpers, a farmer from Prairie Home and chairman of the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. “It is outstanding to see his hard work and positive examples recognized as a Leopold Award recipient.”

In addition to the on-farm improvements, the Scherders helped develop the Peno Creek Cooperative Partnership, a farmer-led watershed initiative that promotes the importance of cover crops, rotational grazing systems and agricultural conservation practices. “There is no better example of how to utilize natural resources to make a living and also improve them for future use,” said J.R. Flores, NRCS State Conservationist. “The Scherders’ conservation ethic is exemplary. They offer proof that we can live in harmony with the land.”

For more information on the Leopold Award, visit

CLICK TO READ more stories from the Feb. 2019 Today’s Farmer Magazine.

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