Photo by Colette Kessler, Natural Resources Conservation Service specialist, USDA<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->The 2012 Leopold Conservation Award was awarded to the Kopriva family pf Raymond, S.D. on April 12.  From left, Angela Kopriva, Jim Kopriva, Karen Kopriva, Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Lee Kopriva.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->
Photo by Colette Kessler, Natural Resources Conservation Service specialist, USDA
The 2012 Leopold Conservation Award was awarded to the Kopriva family pf Raymond, S.D. on April 12. From left, Angela Kopriva, Jim Kopriva, Karen Kopriva, Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Lee Kopriva.
As South Dakotans, we have a personal connection with the land. We enjoy hiking, camping, boating, fishing, hunting and working the land. Many of us grew up on the farm and many more have fond memories of harvesting corn with grandpa or helping grandma plant peas in the garden. We appreciate the beauty of our forested Black Hills, the wide-open spaces of our great plains, and the quiet calm of our lakes and rivers. The bond to land is reflected in our state seal, a vivid testament to our state's natural beauty and a clear symbol of the importance we place on our land and environment. A flowing river, majestic hills, productive agricultural lands, and the many benefits of these abundant natural resources form the collective symbol of our great state. For much of the world, April 22, Earth Day, is one day each year to increase awareness and appreciation of our natural environment. But for those South Dakotans who owe their livelihoods to the bounty of the land, every day is Earth Day. To help recognize those on the front lines of our state's conservation efforts, the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, South Dakota Grassland Coalition and the Wisconsin-based Sand County Foundation have launched the Leopold Conservation Award. The award, named for renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, recognizes farm and ranch families who demonstrate outstanding conservation leadership on their land and in their communities. There are hundreds of families in South Dakota who make conservation a priority, but this year's Leopold Award winners are Jim and Karen Kopriva of Clark County. The Koprivas have made conservation a family tradition, and their grassland, water and wildlife habitat management techniques are a clear demonstration that responsible environmental management and successful agricultural operations can readily co-exist. For more information on the Kopriva family's operation or the many other conservation practices that farmers and ranchers currently employ, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.
Congratulations to Jim and Karen Kopriva and all the other families across South Dakota who are working hard to ensure that our lands remain productive for future generations of South Dakotans.