WICHITA – Sand County Foundation, the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas have announced the finalists for the Kansas Leopold Conservation Award, which honors Kansas landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

The finalists are:

Randall and Nicole Small, who own 2S Land & Cattle, a cow/calf ranch and crop farm in Neodesha. The Smalls practice rotational grazing, plant cover crops to maintain healthy soils and have been no-till since 1999. To benefit wildlife, the Smalls built wildlife-friendly fencing and created quail habitat surrounding their crop fields.Ted and Brian Alexander, owners of Alexander Ranch in Sun City. The ranch is composed of 7,000 acres in the heart of the Red Hills and often stocks 500-700 cow/calf pairs or 2,500 yearlings. The ranch has thrived on a custom rotational grazing system for nearly 30 years. The Alexanders have also extensively cleared invasive Eastern Red Cedar trees and increased native plant and wildlife diversity.The Vorhees family, owners of Lazy VJ Farms, a cow/calf ranch in Fredonia. The family practices rotational grazing and they have added cross fencing to their land to prevent overgrazing. They have also created wetlands, buffers and riparian areas to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and provide wildlife 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 2016 Leopold Conservation Award will be presented at the KACD Annual Convention in Wichita on Nov. 21. The award recipient will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold.