On March 30th, 2018, Mary Lou Lacey received the 2017 National Earth Team Special Recognition Award for assistance with the Earth Team program.

Well done, Mary Lou!


And congratulations are also in order for the 2018 Leopold Conservation Award finalists!

  • Cammack Ranch of Union Center: a cow/calf ranch with 10,000 grazing acres owned by Gary and Amy Cammack. The Cammack family has implemented rotational grazing, constructed windbreaks, and planted over 30,000 trees on their ranch.
  • Center of the Nation Cattle Company of Newell: a 107-year-old, fourth generation cow/calf ranch owned and managed by Jeff and Steve Smeenk, along with their wives Kim and Kay. The Smeenks practice rotational grazing and enhance sage grouse and other wildlife habitat on their land.
  • Johnson Farms of Frankfort: a crop and commercial Angus farm owned and operated by the fifth generation of Johnsons. Using cover crops, no-till practices and a diverse crop rotation, the Johnsons are committed to building soil health and sharing a message of conservation to their community.
  • Blair Brothers Angus Ranch of Vale: a family-owned Angus cow-calf, stocker and feedlot business. The family utilizes sage grouse friendly grazing and focuses on wildlife habitat in their planning.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation on working land. It inspires other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

The 2018 award recipient, who will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold, will be announced in late April and recognized at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention on November 28.


Jared Questad, a beginning farmer from Baltic, SD shares his story on how early stages of no till transition benefits their operation

We have two excellent articles to share with you today!

The Corn and Soybean Digest published an article on cover crops economics: Cover Crops and Economics

And the second article is from the Center for Grassland Studies and  talks about grazing cover crops throughout Nebraska: Grazing Cover Crops Throughout Nebraska

We hope you enjoy both articles!

South Dakota Soil Story: Brian and Jamie Johnson, Frankfort, SD

Brian and Jamie Johnson of Frankfort, SD, share the benefits of soil health for not only their land, but also for their economics and future generations

Sharing the Success Stories of Agricultural Producers:
South Dakota’s Conservation Districts
South Dakota Soil Health Coalition
United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service

Produced in Collaboration with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

USDA is an Equal Opportunity Provider, Employer and Lender.



Here is the video for March from the South Dakota Grassland Coalition, featuring the Schooley Ranch. This video highlights how soil health practices and water quality go hand in hand.

The SD Grassland Coalition partnered with the organizations listed below to enhance the grassland planner with a release of a short video story each month during 2018 promoting healthy soils, grasslands, and ecosystems.

2017 Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners:

The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, American Bird Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, SD Game, Fish and Parks, SD Soil Health Coalition, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and SD Grassland Coalition.

Michalski Ranch

We bring to you the February episode from the Grassland Stewardship Communications Project, this time featuring the Darin and Jessica Michalski from Willow Lake, South Dakota. During 2018, the Project partners will release a video promoting healthy soils, grasslands, and ecosystems. This is the second in the series.

Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners consist of The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, American Bird Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, SD Game, Fish and Parks, SD Soil Health Coalition, SDSU Extension, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and SD Grassland Coalition.


The first is the 8th Annual Soil Health Event, sponsored by SDSU Extension, in Mitchell, SD on Thursday, February 15. There will be presentations about weed resistance, soil fertility, and soil health, and lunch is free! CCA credits are also available. RSVP by calling 605-996-1564 ext 3 or emailing Click on the picture below to print or view the flyer.

The second event is a Precision Ag Workshop held at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls on February 16, 2108 from 10am – 3pm. This event costs $35 which will provide you with a one-year membership to Pheasants Forever, lunch, entry for the Henry Golden Boy Farmer Edison rifle, and a daily pass to the National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic show floor (a $65 value!). The agenda for this workshop is specifically designed for farmers, precision specialists, agronomists, and ag lenders. Discover new approaches to put your data to work to maximize ROI on every acre! CEUs are available. Register online at Click on the picture below for more information.