Leopold Conservation
Award Winners
Veatch Farm
2023 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winner

Ever since his mother helped him win a conservation essay contest, Donald Veatch has been quick to share the credit for his conservation successes.

As a boy, he came to appreciate the uniqueness of central Kentucky’s farmland thanks to his grandparents, Gilbert and Exie Shively. They farmed in a region nicknamed “the lagoon” for its river bottoms and prehistoric beginnings as a lake.

Donald says the public debate over erecting a dam that would have returned his family’s farmland into a lake made an impression on him. So did this simple rule from his father who farmed and worked as a county conservationist: “Never allow a gulley on the farm.”.



Reddick Farms
2022 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winner

“It Starts With the Soil,” was the title of farmer and soil scientist Ray Archuleta’s address to the National No-Till Conference in 2017. What Brad Reddick and his son Joel heard that day about regenerative agriculture would change the way they farm.



Sipes Farm
2021 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winner

Farming land his grandmother once owned, Fred L. Sipes says he’s a caretaker of a precious resource. As he was growing his operation, he adopted conservation practices with assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Determined to leave the land and water better than he found it, he joined the Meade County Conservation District’s board, and was an early adopter of a Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan. Fred uses a number of livestock and crop systems, including rotational grazing, watering facilities and feeding pads, buffer strips, no-till, and cover crops. Just as Aldo Leopold wrote about the “ethical relationship between people and the land that they manage,” Fred is inspired to share his conservation story with consumers. “He exemplifies who today’s farmer should be – eager to learn and serve. And more excited to educate others about what he has learned,” said Andy Mills, Meade County Extension agent.



2020 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winner

“The Kentucky Agricultural Council is proud to once again partner with the Sand County Foundation and the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts to recognize exceptional stewardship and conservation practices among Kentucky’s many private landowners,” said Mark Barker, Kentucky Agricultural Council’s chair. “The winner of the 2020 Leopold Conservation Award represents a lifelong work in his community to promote good stewardship and his passion for agriculture in Anderson County.”



Dr. James W. Middleton

2019 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winner

“My whole life is centered around my love affair with Hart County. I have spent my life taking care of the people (as a country doctor) and the land (as a farmer),” says Dr. James W. Middleton. In the five decades since he took the reins of his family farm, he has improved the health of thousands of highly-sensitive acres along the Green River. Successful farming and conservation along one of North America’s most ecologically-important river corridors required an ability to adapt, experiment and innovate. When not improving his community’s health as a physician, Dr. Middleton has made a mark with his commitment to farm conservation practices, water quality, wildlife habitat, and providing outdoor recreation opportunities for others. The self-described country doctor is also a conservationist in the truest Leopold tradition.



Trunnell Family Farm Receives Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award

2018 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winners

Sand County Foundation created the Leopold Conservation Award to inspire American landowners by recognizing exceptional farms, ranchers and foresters. The prestigious award, named in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is given in 14 states.



Tallow Creek Farm - Bradfordsville, KY

2017 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winners

While running a custom injection molding firm, Ray Pelle and his son Harry decided to pursue their dream of owning land to reconnect with nature and hunt. Ray bought the first 400-acre tract of land in 1982 in the knobby Tallow Creek area of northern Taylor County. After Ray’s passing in 2003, Harry and his wife Karen continued to follow the dream and have since added 1,100 acres of forest to Tallow Creek Farm.
Nearly 1,330 acres of the property has a long history of logger choice harvest and occasional wildfire. This left mostly small-to-medium saw timber with a large percentage of low quality, less desirable species. The family has been working to improve timber quality through cull tree removal and mid-story removal for regeneration. Dead and low-quality trees have been harvested for firewood. As the current crop of trees matures, when the stand conditions warrant, timber harvests will be implemented on a schedule to maximize long term sustainable production.



Turner Family Farms - Livermore, KY

2016 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winners

Conservation ethics were instilled in Mark Turner at a young age while helping his father on the family farm. When Mark took over Turner Farms, he saw the negative effects on the land from the moldboard plow, and decided to purchase his first no-till drill in 1983. The farm is now no-till and cover cropped on every acre. At Turner Farms, Mark works alongside his wife June, his son and daughter-in-law Matthew and Hannah, and his daughter Leslie. The Turners raise chickens for Perdue and grow tobacco, pumpkins, grains and a variety of cover crops. Year-round cover cropping has led to improved soil structure, promoting water infiltration, weed suppression and proper plant growth. Mark also leaves grassy strips along his ditch areas to prevent erosion and nutrient loading into streams.



Charles Williams - West Wind Farm

2015 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Finalist

West Wind Farm Charles Williams is a Leopold Conservation Award Finalist for 2015.



Ronnie & Will Bowling - Old Homeplace Farm

2015 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Finalist

Old Homeplace Farm Ronnie & Will Bowling Leopold Conservation Award Finalist 2015



Harry and Karen Pelle - Tallow Creek Farm

2015 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Finalist

Tallow Creek Farm Harry and Karen Pelle Leopold Conservation Award Finalist 2015



Jerry & Valarie Peery - Springhill Farm

2014 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winners

Sand County Foundation and the Kentucky Agricultural Council (KAC) are proud to announce Springhill Farms as the recipient of the prestigious 2014 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award®, which honors landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources. Jerry & Valarie Peery own and operate Springhill Farms, a row crop operation in Clinton. With a history of seeking new technologies and methods for improving their farm, the Peerys began experimenting with no-till farming more than 40 years ago, before many farmers had considered it. Their conservation practices, combined with the use of precision farming technologies to manage inputs like seeds and fertilizer, have lowered overall operating costs while increasing crop production. To learn more about the Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award®, visit leopoldconservationaward.org



Jon & Sylvia Bednarski - Sherwood Acres Farm

2013 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award Winners

Visit the grassfed beef operation of our inaugural Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award recipients, the Bednarski family.