Sand County Foundation, in partnership with the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation, ITC Holdings Corp. and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, is proud to announce Emmons Farm as the recipient for the inaugural Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award®, which honors Oklahoma landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.
Emmons Farm is owned and managed by Jimmy Emmons and his family. The farm was converted to no-till in 1995, and Jimmy later went a few steps further and adopted crop rotations, cover crops and planned grazing management to decrease soil erosion from water and wind, and increase water infiltration of the soil. In addition to conventional soil testing, Jimmy uses specialized soil and plant tissue testing to determine soil fertility. This helps him reduce fertilizer application rates by crediting the system for nutrients supplied by soil microbes.
Jimmy was one of the first farmers in his area to experiment with pollinator strips and companion crops. Both have helped create habitat for beneficial insects, which help control crop pests without the need for additional insecticide. Although his initial experimental plots had slightly less yield than average for the area, his net profit was greater since the yield decrease and cover crop costs were less than what the insecticide expense would have been.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It inspires other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. 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.”
The $10,000 award, and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold will be presented to the Emmons family on Earth Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
“The Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation is thrilled to celebrate the Emmons family as the first recipients of the Leopold Conservation Award,” said Chris Kidd, Director of Fundraising and Public Relations. “The Emmons embody Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic, and all Oklahomans benefit for their outstanding stewardship.”
“Jimmy and Ginger Emmons puts their passion for conservation to work not only on their operation but also by channeling it into service through leadership and communication,” said Chad Ellis, Noble Research Institute Manager of Industry Relationships and Stewardship. “When I think of the Leopold Conservation Award, I think of people who have a passionate desire to protect, conserve and regenerate our natural resources; when I think of protecting, conserving and regenerating our natural resources in Oklahoma, I think of the Emmons.”
“We are pleased to support Sand County Foundation to bring the Leopold Conservation Award to Oklahoma and congratulate the Emmons Farm on their achievements in landowner stewardship,” said Donna Zalewski, ITC Holdings Corp. Director of Local Government, Community Affairs and Philanthropy.
“On behalf of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association (OCA), congratulations to Emmons Farms as the first winner of the Leopold Conservation Award in Oklahoma,” said Michael Kelsey, Executive Vice President, OCA. “Emmons Farms is a superb inaugural winner of this prestigious award which recognizes the outstanding stewardship of Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. Their story will give great confidence to Oklahomans that farmers and ranchers as private landowners are doing important and wonderful work every day. Congratulations Emmons Farm!”
The Leopold Conservation Award in Oklahoma is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation, ITC Holdings Corp., and Noble Research Institute.