Finalists Named for 2017 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award®

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Sand County Foundation, in partnership with Missouri Farmers Care, announces the finalists for the inaugural Missouri Leopold Conservation Award®, which honors farmer, rancher and forester achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

The finalists are:

  • Richard and Renee Fordyce, owners of Fordyce Farms in Bethany. The Fordyces raise corn and soybeans, and also have a commercial cow/calf herd. In addition to a strong dedication to building soil health and sharing its benefits, the family has invested considerable effort into converting some former crop land into riparian habitat for wildlife.
  • Matt and Kate Lambert, owners of Uptown Farms in Laclede. Their farm consists of 2,000 acres of row crop and hay production, commercial Red Angus cattle and a small flock of Hampshire and Dorper sheep. The Lamberts have transitioned their farm to completely no-till, and they use cover crops to enhance soil health while minimizing soil erosion and run-off.
  • John and Sandy Scherder, owners of Scherder Farms in Frankford. The Scherders grow corn, beans, wheat and hay, and also have a cow/calf herd. They began using no-till practices in the late 90s, and they have incorporated cover crops into their rotation over the past five years. The family has also established over 150 acres of quail habitat.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It inspires other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”

The 2017 Leopold Conservation Award will be announced at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters in Kansas City Nov. 8, 2017and officially presented to the winner on Jan. 6, 2018 at the 50th Missouri Cattle Industry Convention and Tradeshow in Columbia. The award recipient will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold.

“The quality of the applications received reflects the value and emphasis Missouri farmers and ranchers place on stewardship of their land, animals and natural resources”, said Missouri Farmers Care’s Executive Director Ashley McCarty. “Missouri’s landowners share a long-term view. They are continually seeking ways to both enhance their productivity and improve their farms, leaving the land in better shape after being in their care.”

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, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Missouri Department of Conservation, MFA, Inc., Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Program, and USDA NRCS.



The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. The award consists of $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold. Sand County Foundation presents Leopold Conservation Awards in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, 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. Learn more at