Leading-edge ranch stewards from across the United States will be in Lincoln July 25-26 for a two-day symposium.
The Sand County Foundation, along with the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Land Trust and UNL's Center for Grassland Studies, are sponsoring this two-day event which will feature dozens of Leopold Conservation Award-winning cattle operations.
The symposium will bring together leading farmers, ranchers and foresters to address private-public partnerships, conservation and economics, and other issues important to the agricultural community and the general public, says Craig Utter, Nebraska coordinator for the Sand County Foundation's Leopold Conservation Award.
Utter says eight states are involved in the Leopold Conservation Awards program and, combined, there will be 50-plus award winners at the Lincoln symposium.
The symposium will provide an opportunity for Leopold Conservation Award recipients, other landowners, award partners and sponsors to educate, interact, and exchange ideas with award recipients from other states.
Bringing Leopold Conservation Award recipients together to address challenges will help identify innovative solutions and opportunities involved in private lands conservation. This interaction and subsequent conversations will foster a sense of community among the award recipients and generate ideas of how they, as a growing national group, could tackle important agricultural and environmental issues.
Another goal is to develop education and communications materials incorporating themes and discussions covered during the conference. To do so will allow participants to carry the information beyond the symposium to families across the nation who work the land.
The symposium is in Nebraska because of the state's impressive record for forming conservation partnership, according to Utter. That's important because 97% of the land in Nebraska is privately owned. "For conservation agencies to get conservation on the land, they know they have to work with landowners."
Sand County Foundation's mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and the ecological landscape.
It pursues that mission by:
•Providing financial, technical, and organizational support to private individuals and communities as primary agents of long-term landscape-scale conservation and management
•Rewarding responsible stewards and providing public recognition for outstanding private lands leadership to inspire others by their examples
•Serving as a conduit and catalyst for the exchange of monitoring and management practice information between and among private individuals, scientists, funders, and policy makers
•Removing regulatory barriers and creating meaningful incentives for landowners who enhance the environment for benefit to themselves and their community
•Creating on the land examples of environmental improvement suitable for replication
Sand County Foundation is a private non-profit organization dedicated to working with private landholders to improve natural habitats on their land.