Michael Thompson of Almena has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award®.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife resources in their care.
In Kansas the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust, with state partners: Kansas Association of Conservation Districts and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas.
Thompson grows crops and raises beef cattle at Thompson Farm and Ranch in Norton County with his father Richard, and brother Brian. He’s a vocal advocate for soil stewardship among other farmers and ranchers. He was announced as the recipient of the award at the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts’ 78th Annual Convention in Wichita, and receives $10,000 and a crystal award for being selected.
“Michael’s passion for conservation and improving soil health serves as an inspiration to farmers and ranchers across Kansas,” said Mike Beam, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture. “His commitment to sharing his experience and knowledge with others makes him very deserving of the honor of being a Leopold Conservation Award winner.”
“Michael’s passion and drive as a leader in the soil health movement is contagious. He is always learning and sharing his knowledge and experiences with others,” said Dan Meyerhoff, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director. “Michael exemplifies the extraordinary commitment celebrated by the Leopold Conservation Award.”
“Congratulations to Michael Thompson regarding his selection as the 2022 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award recipient,” said Chelsea Good, Ranchland Trust of Kansas Chair of the Board. “RTK is pleased to recognize great advocates for and practitioners of conservation, such as Michael Thompson.”
“These award recipients are examples of how Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO.
“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of Michael Thompson,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”
Earlier this year, Kansas landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. Among the many outstanding Kansas landowners nominated for the award were finalists: Ray and Susan Flickner of Wichita, Kevin Karr of Emporia, and Glenn and Barbara Walker of Brookville.
The first Kansas Leopold Conservation Award was presented to Sproul Ranch of Sedan in 2015. Last year’s recipient was Dwane Roth of Holcomb. View all recipients at www.SandCountyFoundation.org/Kansas
The Leopold Conservation Award in Kansas is made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, Sand County Foundation, Farm Credit Associations of Kansas, ITC Great Plains, Evergy, Kansas Department of Agriculture (Division of Conservation), Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas Forest Service, McDonald’s, The Nature Conservancy, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and a Kansas Leopold Conservation Award recipient.
In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”
Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. For more information, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.