Conservation Pays in Missouri

The Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation, inspires other landowners through their example, and helps the general public understand the vital role private landowners can and do play in conservation success.

In Missouri, the award recipient receives an Aldo Leopold crystal and $10,000.


2019 Missouri Leopold Award Recipient

Brinker Farms

Brinker Farms Inc., operated by the Kenny and Susan Brinker family, demonstrates how modern pork and row-crop farms can protect the soil, water and air, while caring for livestock and wildlife.

In 1993, Kenny and Susan, relocated to their Callaway County farm and began designing new hog facilities to address existing environmental constraints. The Brinkers, who now farm with their children, were one of the nation’s first farm families to adopt the National Pork Board’s Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan, but their conservation journey began long before.

“Our parents taught us by example, the importance of taking care of the land and our animals,” said Kenny Brinker. “We give the best care to our pigs because they are our livelihood and we are their stewards.”

2019 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award Finalists

Brinker Farms, Inc. 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.

Oetting Homestead Farms of Concordia in Lafayette County

Steve, Sharon and Sean Oetting manage a hog finishing business and grow corn and soybeans at a farm that has been in their family for 180 years. They have been recognized by state and federal stewardship programs for responsibly preventing soil erosion and properly storing and utilizing their animal waste. Precision agricultural technology ensures fields are fertilized according to crop needs. They have planted pollinator habitat and nearly 10,000 trees within riparian buffer strips.

Joshlin and Addie Yoder of Leonard in Shelby County

The Yoders use minimum tillage or no-till practices on their corn and soybeans fields to control soil erosion and reduce compaction. Cover crops are utilized to control weeds and improve soil health and water quality. The impact of cover crops is measured by automated water monitoring stations that collect rain runoff from fields with and without cover crops. This water quality data also helps inform when to conduct field work and nutrient applications in relation to rain events. The Yoders also grow hay and raise beef cattle.

Photo Credit: Stella + Eden

Missouri Leopold Conservation Award Recipients

Brinker Family

2019 - Brinker Farms; Auxvasse, Mo.

Brinker Farms shows how modern pork and row-crop production can protect the soil, water and air, while caring for livestock and wildlife.

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2018 - Scherder Farms; Frankford, Mo.

John and Sandy Scherder, along with their daughter and son-in-law, Holly and Curtis Delgman, were named the 2018 Leopold Conservation Award recipients.

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2017 - Uptown Farms; Laclede, Mo.

Matt and Kate Lambert of Uptown Farms were announced as the inaugural recipients of the Missouri Leopold Conservation Award.®

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Missouri Leopold Conservation Award made possible thanks to:

Leopold Sponsors

Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Missouri Department of Conservation,
MFA, Inc., Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Program, The Nature Conservancy in Missouri, McDonald’s