Jamie Johnson (SDARL VIII) of Frankfort, SD, has been named the 2020 recipient of the NACD/NRCS Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award.

The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recognized Johnson at NACD’s 75th Annual Meeting.  The award honors an up-and-coming leader who demonstrates excellence in promoting and leading voluntary conservation on private lands.

Johnson has become a leader in the agricultural community and serves as a Spink County Conservation District Supervisor where she has taken the concepts that she implements on her land and has led by example.  The Conservation District began operating a 20-acre regenerative ag demonstration plot that showcases the benefits of implementing the five principles of soil health.  The plot also shows the value of these decisions and how they can reduce dependency on herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.  Jamie’s leadership with the Spink Conservation District has promoted local, state, and federal conservation programs that help producers’ transition into more conservation intense systems.

First vice-president of the South Dakota Soybean Association (SDSA) board of directors, she serves on the SDSA committees focusing on producer education and outreach. She also serves as chair of SDSA’s Conservation Committee which strives to protect the right for SD producers to farm in a sustainable manner.  Johnson’s leadership within SDSA has led to the Association being awarded a federal grant, through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), aimed at increasing producer awareness and implementation of conservation practices.  This grant includes a membership survey for benchmarking knowledge, advertising campaigns to promote soil health and conservation and numerous outreach/educational events to promote conservation practices to all SD producers.

Education has been a cornerstone of Johnson’s work in SD’s ag community. Johnson has represented ag organizations on local TV programs and highlighting women in agriculture. She is a soil health mentor and works with local schools, Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapters, and 4-H clubs.  She teaches the importance of soil health to all ages by helping create the next generation of conservation-minded producers.

Johnson and her husband, Bryan, believe in being stewards of the land. They and their family farm 2,300 acres of crop and grassland near Frankfort, South Dakota. Johnson sees the beauty in the challenges they have faced on the farm that has been in the family since 1906. Currently, the Johnsons focus on conservation by following the five principles of soil health.  With a three-crop minimum rotation, Johnson and her husband keep the soil covered, manage their land to have continual living roots, and increase plant biodiversity. The Johnson farm has been no-till since 1986, ensuring minimal disturbance.  Livestock is integrated into their operation to further add diversity.  Johnson has dedicated her life to ensuring that she leaves a legacy behind for those who come after her.  Working with her husband and their four children, the Johnson farm is thriving along with serving as leaders in soil health.

Johnson and her family’s dedication to conservation has been recognized before.  Johnson is a graduate of the SD Agricultural and Rural Leadership Program and was a Master Gardener intern.  In 2019, the Johnson family received the SD Leopold Award and were Region 7 2020 Environmental Stewardship Award recipients. She and her husband were featured in the “Merit or Myth” video series addressing misconceptions for adopting conservation practices and discussing sustainable agriculture.


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