Plum Thicket Farms, which raises crops and cattle in Sheridan County, is the winner of the 2016 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award.
Owners Rex and Nan Peterson were honored for carefully managing 2,300 acres of pasture and crop land. They are helped by their son, Patrick, and his wife, Krista.
Rex Peterson says the four of them could not do the conservation work without their summer interns.
“The people that we bring into our lives to share what we do, and because we’re already doing conservation, that becomes part of what they do,” Peterson said in his acceptance speech. “We do a great job of finding kids who love to work hard, passionate about agriculture, passionate about what they do.”
The award is named after conservationist Aldo Leopold and comes with a $10,000 prize and crystal statue.
Since buying the land in 1998, the Petersons have taken steps to fight drought, implemented a deferred rest rotation grazing system, and set up windbreaks, among other things.
They were inspired to act after hearing the stories of previous award winners.
“People who have great stories about how the families will be connected with the land and care for the land and that ethos of stewardship goes on and on and on,” Rex Peterson said. “That is a wonderful thing.”
He also thanked those who have pioneered conservation practices and shared what they learned with others.
Nan Peterson praised the hard work of her son and daughter-in-law.
“The real stewards are at home, calving out cows, feeding cattle in the lot, and trying to get seed in the ground,” Nan Peterson said. “Patrick and Krista have been wonderful leaders as we have moved towards taking better care of our farm ground and our ranch.”
The Petersons say Plum Thicket Farms survived the 2012 drought better than most, because of the conservation work they have done.