Black Hills State University alum Pat Guptill and his wife Mary Lou recently received the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award, an honor that recognizes South Dakota landowners who exemplify voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.
The Guptills were recognized during the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association Annual Convention in December and presented with a $10,000 award and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold.
“Having grown up on a farm, I know how precious the land is to South Dakotans who owe their livelihoods to our natural resources,” said South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Farmers and ranchers, such as the Guptill Family, take great care to maintain those resources for generations to come.”
The Guptill Ranch in western South Dakota is a 7,000-acre cattle operation near Quinn. The Guptills have owned and operated the family-run ranch for the past 25 years. The ranch includes grasslands with rolling hills and a main wooded creek running through the ranch. In 2000, as their children grew older, the Guptills decided to make changes to lower production costs and enhance the health of the land to make the ranch better.
“The more we change, the more we learn,” Pat said. “We hope we can help other producers bypass all the mistakes we made along the way to make their operations work. Our goal is to make the land better for future generations.”
The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. 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.