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Wisconsin Farm Families Recognized as Conservation Leaders

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Sand County Foundation and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation have identified four Wisconsin agricultural families as finalists for the 2012 Leopold Conservation Award. All families are being recognized for their commitment to the health of natural resources in their care.

Madison, WI (PRWEB) October 29, 2012

Sand County Foundation and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation are pleased to announce the finalists for the Leopold Conservation Award.

“The diversity of these agricultural operations is remarkable, yet they all share a commitment to enhancement of Wisconsin's natural resources,” said Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation President. “These finalists are examples of the determination, innovation and dedication that characterize farm families across Wisconsin.”

The Leopold Conservation Award, named in honor of world-renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is comprised of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal. The award is now presented annually in eight states to private landowners who practice responsible land stewardship and management.

The four finalists, listed alphabetically, are (brief bios appear below):
·        Jim and Valerie Hebbe, Green Lake County
·        Justin and Lynn Isherwood, Portage County
·        Steve and Pat Kling, Jackson County
·        Mark and Jan Riechers, Lafayette County

The Leopold Conservation Award recipient will be formally announced at the November 14 meeting of the Board of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The award itself will be presented at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation's Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells on December 2.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Wisconsin is made possible through the generous support of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, American Transmission Company (ATC), Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Rural Mutual Insurance Company, UW-Extension, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board, Inc. and Farm Credit.

For more information, please visit http://www.leopoldconservationaward.org

Jim and Valerie Hebbe, Princeton, Green Lake County
Jim Hebbe has been implementing conservation practices for 25 years and has shared his ideas with other farmers as the Green Lake County Conservationist since 1984. He and his wife, Valerie, raise 1,100 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa in central Wisconsin. In addition to no-till planting all of the crops, he has worked to develop numerous conservation systems that compliment each other and lead to less erosion and more residue cover on the land. The farm includes land with a significant slope draining into a Class 1 Trout Stream. A water and sediment basin was constructed to help control and reduce field runoff into the stream. Native prairie grasses were planted in a field that borders the creek. Twenty-five acres of evergreen trees were planted on a farm with light and sandy soil. In 1985 he helped develop conservation standards for the Farmland Preservation Program participants to control soil erosion to sustainable levels.

Justin and Lynn Isherwood, Plover, Portage County
Justin and Lynn Isherwood's 156-year-old farm consists of 1500 acres, including 260 acres of woodland. They specialize in the production of vegetables, primarily potatoes, and grain. For the Isherwoods, an “ethic of landedness” is at the heart of their agricultural operation. Justin played a prominent role in the development of Healthy Grown potatoes, which demand a higher level of environmental quality production standards and require enrolled farmers to commit to ecological enhancement of their non-production lands. The Isherwoods' farm includes four miles of stream edge, so Justin and Lynn are committed to water management to enhance wildlife habitat and strive to make water quality a community-wide discussion through the development of a booklet that gives voice to water issues from farmers, other landowners and elected officials. As an accomplished writer and farmer, Justin is dedicated to making “agriculture visible to a population ever more distant from agriculture.”

Steve and Pat Kling, Taylor, Jackson County
Building off of a solid family history of sustainable farming, Steve and Pat Kling purchased their 65-acre farm in Jackson County in 1981. They credit their transformation to a managed intensive grazing (MIG) program as a primary catalyst for their success. They have found that MIG has helped revitalize their land, while reducing costs and increasing production. Due to effective grassland management, and their use of no-till, meaning they do not disturb the soil, the Klings have seen more robust vegetation, less soil erosion, and better water retention. To improve wildlife habitat, Steve and Pat improved one pond and added another, which are now home to fish, geese, ducks and turtles, as well as serving as watering holes for the livestock. The Klings have developed an outstanding tradition of agricultural outreach. Between them, they have almost 60 years of service to 4-H. They encourage research on their farm and have hosted many domestic and international visitors who learn from the Klings about agriculture and conservation.

Mark and Jan Riechers, Darlington, Lafayette County
The Riechers' farm, which produces beef, corn and soybeans, is located at the southern end of the driftless region in southwestern Wisconsin. The family's approach to land and resource management is based on the recognition that soil does not need to be tilled to be productive. Their no-till planting system significantly reduces investments in energy and labor. Corn and soybean crops are grown on less than a gallon of fuel per acre each year. Grassed waterways and terraces are combined with careful residue management and cross-slope planting, which help keep the farm's soils in place and run-off very low and clean. Off the farm, Mark Riechers has been a leader in the agricultural community, communicating about conservation and agriculture at various conferences and in several publications.

ABOUT THE LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD
The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. The award consists of an Aldo Leopold crystal and a check for $10,000. In 2012, Sand County Foundation will also present Leopold Conservation Awards in California, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

ABOUT SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION
Sand County Foundation is a private, non-profit conservation group based in Monona, Wis., dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. Sand County's mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and their rural landscapes. Sand County Foundation works with private landowners because the majority of the nation's fish, wildlife, and natural resources are found on private lands. The organization backs local champions, invests in civil society and places incentives before regulation to create solutions that endure and grow. The organization encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health as an essential alternative to many of the commonly used strategies in modern conservation.

ABOUT THE WISCONSIN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is Wisconsin's largest general farm organization. It represents nearly 23,000 farms and agriculturists who belong to one of 61 county Farm Bureaus found across the state. Much like Wisconsin's diverse agricultural landscape, Farm Bureau members represent all farm commodities, and all farm sizes and management styles. Farm Bureau's mission is to lead the farm and rural community through legislative representation, education, public relations and leadership development.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/10/prweb10069022.htm

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