Sand Ranch of Ellendale award conservation award

The 2021 North Dakota Leopold Conservation Award goes to the Sand Ranch of Ellendale.

JSSP Ag News

The Sand Ranch of Ellendale is the recipient of the 2021 North Dakota Leopold Conservation Award.

The award is given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes private landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife resources in their care.

In North Dakota , the Sand County Foundation presents the award with national sponsor American Farmland Trust , and state partners: North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition , North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts and the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association .

Brad Sand, a rancher from Ellendale in Dickey County, will be presented with $10,000 and a crystal award for being selected during the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts’ Annual Convention on Sunday, November 21.

“The North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition is honored to present this prestigious award to the Sand Ranch,” said Jerry Doan, NDGLC president. “The way that Brad Sand manages his operation is an outstanding model in the implementation of voluntary conservation and outreach on the role private landowners play in conservation. He is a true inspiration for other landowners.”


Sand planted 12 rows of trees, each more than a mile long, with help from a local conservation group when he began cattle ranching in 1974.

“I did it for the wildlife, the soil, and for my cattle,” he said.

The same can be said of his implementation of conservation practices at Sand Ranch ever since.

“When you take an active role in making the land better, it’ll take care of you and the people who eat your food,” Brad said.

“The North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts is proud to be part of the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award in North Dakota,” said Brian Johnston, NDASCD CEO. “We are proud to honor the Sand Ranch as 2021 recipient of the Leopold Conservation Award. NDASCD congratulates Brad Sand, recognizing his commitment to incorporating sound conservation practices to ensure the land will be productive for many generations to come.”

Other organizations also offered their compliments.

“The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association offers its congratulations to this year’s Leopold Conservation Award winner,” said Jeff Schafer, NDSA President. “Ranchers and farmers take their jobs as stewards of the land and the livestock seriously. To us, it is not only how we make our living, but how we can ensure a legacy for future generations.”

“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 North Dakota recipient,” 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.”

Earlier this year, North Dakota landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. Among the many outstanding North Dakota landowners nominated for the award was finalist: Spring Valley Cattle of Glen Ullin in Morton County.

The first North Dakota Leopold Conservation Award was presented to Black Leg Ranch from McKenzie in 2016. Last year’s recipient was Dockter-Jensen Ranch from Denhoff.

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