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Finalists Selected for Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 09/27/2022

Three finalists have been selected for the 2022 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat resources in their care.

In Pennsylvania, the $10,000 award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, The Heinz Endowments, Horizon Farm Credit, and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

The finalists are:

Dotterer Farms of Mill Hall in Clinton County: Ralph Dotterer Jr. utilizes cover crops and no-till practices to prevent soil erosion on his family's farm. The Dotterers have long used rotational cropping and contoured fields to improve the soil's ability to infiltrate water. Ralph has installed grass waterways and buffers to protect water quality, and has overseen the design and construction of stream bank renovation projects on a creek that runs through the farm. Ralph sells his crops to area farmers for feed. His son Daniel is transitioning the farm to sheep production.

Troy Firth of Spartansburg in Crawford County: As owner and manager of Firth Maple Products, Troy shows that forestry can be economically profitable and ecologically nurturing. He's also the state's second largest producer of maple syrup, and was the founder of the Foundation for Sustainable Forests. His unconventional approach to selecting timber for harvest fosters healthy trees and abundant bird habitat. To better understand his impact, the National Aviary is conducting a multi-year study of songbird diversity in forests he manages.

Flinchbaugh's Orchard & Farm of Hellam in York County: The Flinchbaughs work with natural systems to increase productivity and conserve natural resources. They utilize no-till practices, cover crops, grassed buffers, and integrated pest management to promote soil health, protect local waters, benefit plant life, and provide wildlife habitat. This multi-generational farm produces grain crops, hay, and specialty crops like pumpkins, fruit, and flowers. The Flinchbaughs operate an apple processing business, farm market, and agri-tourism venue.

The award will be presented during this winter's Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

"The Heinz Endowments' sustainability program promotes community health and vitality through sustainable food systems, and as part of this work we are pleased to cosponsor the Leopold Conservation Award. We believe the Leopold Conservation Award, and the outstanding leadership in agriculture that it recognizes, plays an important role in encouraging the continued growth of Pennsylvania's sustainable agriculture movement," said Andrew McElwaine, vice president of sustainability for The Heinz Endowments.

"Ralph Dotterer Jr., Troy Firth and the Flinchbaugh family exemplify the conservation ethic of Pennsylvania agriculture," Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert said. "Farmers consider our natural resources as vital partners in producing quality food, fiber, and fuel. We want our farms to continue producing so that we can pass them down to future generations. These three deserving finalists are being recognized for their on-farm innovation in improving soil health, protecting water quality, preserving natural habitats and generating clean energy."

"Pennsylvania farmers have made great strides toward protecting our water, soil and land resources for future generations," Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. "These finalists for the Leopold Conservation Award exemplify the culture of stewardship that characterizes Pennsylvania farmers. They are models of how we should all strive toward a sustainable future."

"Farm Credit is proud to play a role in recognizing these three outstanding Pennsylvania producers," said Tom Truitt, Horizon Farm Credit CEO. "The annual Leopold Conservation Award honors leaders within the agriculture industry who are paving the way for a successful future, and this year's finalists are certainly accomplishing that goal. We look forward to the bright futures that lie ahead for their businesses and the communities they impact."

"These award finalists are examples of how Aldo Leopold's land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber," said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation president and CEO.

"As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation's Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Pennsylvania award finalists," said John Piotti, AFT president and CEO. "At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three."

Applications were submitted by landowners, or on behalf of a landowner. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.

Last year's Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award was presented to Brubaker Farms of Mount Joy in Lancaster County.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Pennsylvania is made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, The Heinz Endowments, Horizon Farm Credit, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Sand County Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, EDPR NA Distributed Generation, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.

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."

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. For more information, visit https://www.leopoldconservationaward.org/.


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