The Slovek family, 2023 winners of the Leopold Conservation Award, hosted an educational tour of their 26,000-acre ranch near Philip, SD, on August 3. Bill (SDARL IV) and Bo (SDARL IX) Slovek, together with their families, received the award based on their land stewardship and conservation practices.

In his remarks, Bill highlighted the importance of partnerships with NRCS and the rural water district to assist with education and resources to develop water infrastructure on the ranch. With improved water access, and rotational grazing practices, the land is able to improve rainwater infiltration, plant diversity, and soil health across its 30 pastures, only three of which are in use at any given time.

NRCS provided additional information about macro- and micro-level conservation topics, particularly on the need to protect South Dakota’s native grassland from disturbance and development. Colette Kessler (SDARL XI) and Tanse Herrmann (SDARL X), along with local conservation officer Nina Pekron, provided a panel discussion on soil health practices, as well as the SDSU Extension’s wind and rainfall simulators that clearly demonstrate the effects of topsoil disturbance in wind erosion, water runoff, and water infiltration. Eric Jennings (SDARL VIII), president of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, provided context for why a cattle organization would support a conservation award.

SDARL is well represented within the Leopold award program, with five other SDARL graduates having won the award since the program began in 2010: Mortenson Ranch (Todd Mortenson, SDARL VI), 2011; Kopriva Angus (Jim Kopriva, SDARL VI), 2012; Jorgenson Land & Cattle Partnership (Cody Jorgenson, SDARL I), 2015; Cammack Ranch (Gary Cammack, SDARL I), 2018; and Johnson Farms (Jamie Johnson, SDARL VIII), 2019. In support of the Slovek family and the Leopold Award, eleven members of the SDARL community attended the ranch tour on August 3.

The Leopold Conservation Award Program recognizes agricultural landowners actively committed to a land ethic. It recognizes and celebrates extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation by private landowners, inspires countless other landowners by example, and provides a prominent platform by which agricultural community leaders are recognized as conservation ambassadors to citizens outside of agriculture. Twenty-eight U.S. states have a Leopold Award program. The award is presented in South Dakota by a partnership between the Sand County Foundation, the American Farmland Trust, the South Dakota Cattlmen’s Association, and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition, along with numerous other agricultural supporters. Click here to learn more about the award.


September 27, 2023

Join Class XII for an Evening with Coach Stig and President Dunn

SDARL alumni and friends are invited to join Class XII in Brookings on December 12, 2023 for “An Evening with Coach Stig and President Dunn.” …

September 14, 2023

Walt Bones (Class II) Inducted Into the South Dakota Hall of Fame

A Caring Advocate for Agriculture Article credit: South Dakota Hall of Fame When Walt Bones is asked to serve, he says “yes!” From serving as …

September 14, 2023

West River Golf Tournament Recap

Thank you and congratulations to all the players, winners, and sponsors of the SDARL West River Golf Tournament on September 7, 2023! It was a …

September 14, 2023

Beef Bowl Tailgate!

It was a fun day in Brookings at the SDARL tailgate event with Zoetis on September 9, 2023. Hosted by Craig Dybedahl (Class II) and Matt …

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