2017 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award Winners

The Kaup Family from Stuart, Nebraska were officially recognized recently as 2017 recipients of the Leopold Conservation Award. Kurt and Wayne Kaup of K & W Farms were on hand that the AFAN annual meeting to receive the award.

In Nebraska, Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award in partnership with the Nebraska Cattlemen's Association, Cargill, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The Leopold Conservation Award recipient receives an Aldo Leopold crystal and $10,000.

This year, the Nebraska award goes to the Kaup family. They raise hogs and crops on the eastern edge of the Sandhills. They are good stewards of the land in many ways. For example, they've been utilizing no-till practices for more than a decade to help with soil erosion. They are also focused on using the manure from their hog confinement facilities and returning it back to their row crop fields. In recent years, the Kaup family has worked to improve the health of the soil by using cover crops. They say cover crops are doing wonders when it comes to holding important nutrients in corn they produce.

The Kaups also have a spring-fed cold water trout stream that originates on their property. They've worked to keep the steam clean and clear. "We live in what I could call a fairly arid place," Wayne said. "But the water comes out of the hillside and forms a stream, and the stream has been covered with trees and natural habitat that keeps the water cool. It's a very unique situation."

Nebraskans are encouraged to apply for the 2018 Leopold Conservation Award. Those applications are due in March of next year.