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Finalists Named for Leopold Conservation Award Program
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/10/2019

Another three Wisconsin farm families have been selected as finalists for the annual Leopold Conservation Award, in which the winner will get $10,000 for demonstrating responsible stewardship and management of natural resources. The program, which is a partnership between the Sand County Foundation and Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, is also made possible through the support of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, American Transmission Company, Compeer Financial, McDonald's, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, We Energies Foundation, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board, Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, and Whole Foods Market.

"Wisconsin Farm Bureau is proud to sponsor this award which recognizes farms that demonstrate a high standard care for their soil, water and livestock," Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte. "These finalists are farmers who lead by example, and inspire others to continue to search for better methods of protecting their resources."

This year's finalists include

** Bill Ciolkosz of Thorp in Clark County: Expanded dairy facilities and feed and manure storage areas at Ciolkosz’s 200-cow dairy farm were designed to meet conservation and efficiency goals. Water runoff from more than 100 acres of cropland is diverted across grass waterways before reaching a diversion dam to reduce erosion and protect water quality. Ciolkosz plants pine trees, and maintains food plots and ponds for wildlife habitat.

** Jeff Lake of Boyceville in Dunn County: Lake grows 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans, snap beans, kidney beans and alfalfa with no-till cultivation practices. To provide wildlife habitat and gain efficiencies, some marginal cropland has been converted into grass and full-season cover crops. Soil samples are taken to prevent over application of fertilizer. These efforts earned Lake the first-ever Precision Agriculture Farmer of the Year award from Pheasants Forever.

** John & Dorothy Priske of Fall River in Columbia County: The Priskes adopted no-till and rotational grazing practices, and installed grass waterways to improve water infiltration, sequester carbon and build organic matter in their soil. They raised and direct marketed Scottish Highland beef cattle until 2015. Their pastures provided deep-rooted ground cover to reduce soil erosion. The Priskes lease 165 acres of farmland to Madison College for use as an agricultural education facility.

The award, which is named in honor of world-renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is presented annually in nine states to private landowners who practice responsible land stewardship and management. A winning recipient will be announced in November, with a formal presentation planned for the WFBF's annual meeting in Wisconsin Dells this December.

Last year, David Geiser of New Holstein was named the winner of the Leopold Conservation Award.

This is the tenth year the program has been run in Wisconsin.

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