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Dotterer finalist for Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award

Dotterer Farms of Mill Hall is among three finalists selected for the 2021 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat resources in their care.

In Pennsylvania, the $10,000 award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, The Heinz Endowments, and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

The finalists are:

— Dotterer Farms of Mill Hall in Clinton County: Ralph Dotterer Jr. utilizes cover crops and no-till practices to prevent soil erosion on his family’s farm. The Dotterers have long used rotational cropping and contoured fields to improve the soil’s ability to infiltrate water. Ralph has installed grass waterways and buffers to protect water quality, and has overseen the design and construction of several stream bank renovation projects on a creek that runs through the farm. Ralph sells his crops to area farmers for feed. His son Daniel is transitioning the farm to sheep production.

— Brubaker Farms of Mount Joy in Lancaster County: Mike, Tony and Josh Brubaker milk 1,300 cows and raise 52,000 broiler chickens. By implementing cover crops and no-till practices across their 1,800 acres they have protected water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat. Their conservation efforts have improved a waterway into becoming a highly productive trout stream. A methane digester converts manure into electricity for the farm and 325 area homes. A dragline manure application system supplies soil with fertilizer while reducing soil compaction.

— Glen Cauffman of Millerstown in Perry County: Cauffman grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa hay on a 190-acre farm with diverse topography and soils. A herd of 300 Angora goats produce luxury yarn for the fashion industry. No-till practices have been utilized since 1984 to prevent erosion, enhance water infiltration and improve soil health. Cover crops and crop rotation provide ecosystem diversity. Wetlands were created to provide wildlife and bird habitat. Cauffman previously served as manager of Penn State University’s farm operation facilities.

The award will be presented during this winter’s Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

“The Heinz Endowments’ sustainability program promotes community health and vitality through sustainable food systems, and as part of this work we are pleased to cosponsor the Leopold Conservation Award. We believe the Leopold Conservation Award, and the outstanding leadership in agriculture that it recognizes, plays an important role in encouraging the continued growth of Pennsylvania’s sustainable agriculture movement,” said Andrew McElwaine, Vice President of Sustainability for The Heinz Endowments.

“Glen Cauffman, Ralph Dotterer Jr., and the Brubaker family exemplify the conservation ethic of Pennsylvania agriculture,” Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert said. “Farmers consider our natural resources as vital partners in producing quality food, fiber, and fuel. We want our farms to continue producing so that we can pass them down to future generations. These three deserving finalists are being recognized for their on-farm innovation in improving soil health, protecting water quality, preserving natural habitats and generating clean energy.”

“Pennsylvania farmers have made great strides toward protecting our water, soil and land resources for future generations,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “These finalists for the Leopold Conservation Award exemplify the culture of stewardship that characterizes Pennsylvania farmers. They are models of how we should all strive toward a sustainable future.”

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Pennsylvania award finalists,” 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.”

Applications were submitted by landowners, or on behalf of a landowner. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.

Last year’s Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award was presented to the Slate Ridge Dairy Farm of Saint Thomas in Franklin County.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Pennsylvania is made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, The Heinz Endowments, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Sand County Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, EDPR NA Distributed Generation, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, and The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania.

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 23 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. For more information, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.

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