Two finalists have been selected for the 2023 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award. The $10,000 award honors farmers and forestland owners who go above and beyond in their management of soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat on working land.
Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 27 states. In Pennsylvania, the award is presented with The Heinz Endowments, Horizon Farm Credit and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to environmental improvement. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for what he called “a land ethic,” an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.
The finalists are:
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.
Myers Family Farm of Spring Mills in Centre County: Joel Myers uses a variety of conservation practices to prevent soil erosion on his corn, soybean, and alfalfa fields. A no-till and crop rotation system is combined with growing cover crops of tillage radish, ryegrass, and hairy vetch. Wildlife, bird, and fish habitats have been enhanced by tree plantings and stream bank improvements on 75 acres of wild and forestland land. Joel regularly shares his expertise in agronomy, farming, and conservation through field days and workshops.
The award will be presented during this winter’s Pennsylvania Farm Show. Applications submitted by landowners or on their behalf earlier this year, were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. Last year’s Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award was presented to Flinchbaugh’s Orchard & Farm of Hellam in York County. For more information, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.
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