Beel Ranch Earns 2013 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award

Sandhills ranch family recognized for their care of the land and water resources.

Published on: Apr 23, 2013

The Beel Ranch on the Cherry-Brown county line received the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award which recognizes Nebraska private land stewardship and management of natural resources.

The Nebraska Cattlemen, the Wisconsin-based Sand County Foundation and Cargill are the primary sponsor of this award in Nebraska.

Celebrating 75 years on their nearly 22,000-acre cattle operation near Johnstown, brothers Frank, Henry and Adam, along with their wives Jennifer, Mary and Jenny, own and operate The Beel Ranch. The ranch was handed down by their father and grandfather both of whom instilled in them the importance of treating the land with care, said Frank Beel during a press conference at the Nebraska Capitol Building.

Gov. Dave Heineman presents Frank Beel with the 2013 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award. The Beel family surround Heineman and Frank Beel.
Gov. Dave Heineman presents Frank Beel with the 2013 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award. The Beel family surround Heineman and Frank Beel.

On the ranch today, Frank says the extended family makes it a priority to teach their own children the importance of maintaining and caring for our natural environment.

Ranch records indicate that in 1945, Grandfather Henry O. Beel entered into the first of many conservation plans for the ranch. It developed a soil and water plan allowing for rotational grazing, weed mowing, seeding of wheat and more thoughtful well placement.

Almost seven decades later, conservation and range management continues to play a crucial role in his grandsons' management of The Beel Ranch. Their continuous improvements have allowed the land to be better utilized through their efficient rotational grazing system.

Habitat for upland bird species, raptors and large game has increased at the same time.

"People on their own land who make commitments across the generations, as the Beel family is doing, are making decisions that benefit the land, wildlife and all of us," said Brent Haglund, president of the Sand County Foundation.

The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.


The $10,000 award, and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold, will be presented to the Beels at the Nebraska Cattlemen's Annual Convention in December.

"This is a prestigious award given to a Nebraska livestock producer for their commitment to the care and preservation of the land," says Dale Spencer, Nebraska Cattlemen president. "Nebraska Cattlemen are proud to support these conservation-minded individuals as it is our responsibility to protect and preserve the land for future generations."

"On behalf of Cargill's customers and employees, we are proud to recognize The Beel Ranch for conservation that increases the sustainability of animal agriculture in the U.S.," says Jarrod Gillig, vice president and general manager at Cargill's Schuyler beef processing plant. "Through effective land management that includes livestock grazing and preservation of wildlife habitats, the Beel Ranch is a shining example of best practices for cattle and beef production."

Cargill, Farm Credit Services of America, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Cattlemen Research & Education Foundation, Nebraska

Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game & Parks

Commission, Nebraska Land Trust, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund support the Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska.

In 2013, The Sand County Foundation will present Leopold Conservation Awards in California, Colorado, Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

More information about the Sand County Foundation is available at