Finalists for Missouri Leopold Conservation Award Selected

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Three finalists have been selected for the prestigious 2018 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award®.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers and foresters who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land.

In Missouri the $10,000 award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, Missouri Farmers Care (MFC), the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The finalists are:

  • Kenny Brinker of Auxvasse in Callaway County: Brinker Farms received the 2006 National Pork Industry Environmental Steward Award. Today Brinker is an owner of Harrison Creek Farm. The hog farm is home to 2,800 sows, utilizes no-till practices, and Brinker plants cereal rye as a cover crop for soil health and water infiltration. Six acres of corn, soybeans, milo and sunflowers are planted as food plots for wildlife. Undesirable trees were cleared from 200 acres of the farm to allow valuable tree species to flourish.
  • Haubein Farms of Lockwood in Dade County: Haubein Farms incorporates wildlife, soil and water conservation into a profitable, working farm. Its 4,600 acres are spread across three counties. Cover crops are grown with corn and soybeans to reduce soil erosion, improve soil health and provide wildlife habitat. Half of the sixth-generation farm is in hay production and native grassland pastures. David Haubein was the first Missouri cattleman certified by the Audubon Conservation Ranching Program as producing grassland bird-friendly beef.
  • John Scherder of Frankford in Pike County: At Scherder Farms, John and Sandy Scherder raise beef cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Cover crops are grown to reduce soil erosion, improve soil health, provide cattle feed, and provide wildlife habitat. They have used no-till and conservation till practices on their fields since the 1990s. They have established more than 150 acres of field borders into habitat for quail. The Scherders were active in forming a farmer-led watershed group to preserve Peno Creek by encouraging other farms to adopt conservation practices.

This year’s recipient will be announced in January 2019 at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture.

“The Leopold Conservation Award recognizes the efforts of farmers and ranchers who continually strive to better the stewardship of their farms and ranches,” said Alan Wessler, D.V.M, chairman of Missouri Farmers Care. “One thing unites these three finalists, and many more in Missouri agriculture, a shared goal of handing the reins to future generations with their farms in even better shape than when they began. These three finalists embody the values of Missouri farmers and ranchers who seek to enhance the long-term viability of their agricultural lands and businesses by following similar practices.”

“Society owes a great deal of gratitude to farmers who are producing the food we need while simultaneously improving soil health and other natural resources,” said J.R. Flores, NRCS State Conservationist. “These finalists show us firsthand that farmers who use practices such as rotational grazing, no-till and cover crops can be profitable today without sacrificing the natural resources that we will need tomorrow.”

“We all rely on the land and water, and the relationship with those resources is central for farmers,” said Robert Alpers, a mid-Missouri farmer and chairman of the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. “Bringing the Leopold Conservation Award into Missouri is an outstanding way to recognize those farmers who are leaders among their peers in innovation and in demonstrating their commitment to their land.”

The inaugural recipient of the Missouri Leopold Conservation Award® in 2017 was Uptown Farms of Laclede in Linn County.

The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Missouri is made possible thanks to the generous support of Missouri Farmers Care, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Missouri Department of Conservation, MFA, Inc., Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Program, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, and the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 14 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.

For more information on the award, visit

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The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Sand County Foundation is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to working with private landowners across North America to advance ethical and scientifically sound land management practices that benefit the environment.

Missouri Farmers Care is a joint effort by Missouri’s agriculture community to stand together for the men and women who provide the food and jobs on which our communities depend. The coalition of over 45 leading Missouri agricultural groups promotes the growth of Missouri agriculture and rural communities through coordinated communication, education and advocacy.

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council is a statewide, farmer-led organization working to improve opportunities for Missouri soybean farmers through a combination of research, outreach, education and market development efforts through the soybean checkoff.

NRCS, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, provides financial and technical assistance on a voluntary basis to land users interested in protecting, restoring and enhancing natural resources. NRCS helps people help the land through more than 100 local offices located in USDA Service Centers. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.