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If anyone was ever deserving of the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award, it is the Jackson family of Mt-Glen Farms in Springfield Township, Bradford County. And Pennsylvania agreed, as the Sand County Foundation and Pennsylvania sponsors recognized the Jackson family on Jan. 10 at the PA Farm Show.

Some would describe this as a lifetime achievement award in agricultural conservation, but it is more. Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding described it as a multi-generational achievement award. Dean and Rebecca would be quick to credit those who have invested in them and set the pace before them. They may not realize it, but now this duo is doing the same for us.

Conservation and production agriculture have been inseparable at Mt-Glen Farms for three generations ever since Dean Jackson’s grandfather, Scott arrived at their current location in 1929. Mr. Scott Jackson first became a conservation district cooperator in 1962, just five years after Bradford County Conservation District’s inauguration. The first conservation plan developed in 1965 included plans for hay land renovation and management, contour strip cropping, surface water diversion, tree planting, hedgerow planting and wildlife habitat preservation. As the baton has passed to son Ben and now to grandson Dean, this passion for conservation and viable agriculture burns clearer than ever. Today Dean and Rebecca Jackson, piloting Mt-Glen Farms through challenging markets and regulations, emerge as industry leaders and as farmers who simply love what they do.

The Leopold Conservation Award is all about re-telling the story — the captivating, enduring, true story about creation, design and people discovering it. The story plays out over and again in the lives of regular folk with a spark to notice, investigate and risk.

Listen to Dean tell it: “You have to pay attention to the things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning,” says Dean. “Learning to mimic the natural system has been one of those motivators for me. It’s been one of those things that makes farming fun all over again.”

As he continues learning about soil Dean says, “cover crops, manure application and minimizing soil disturbance are the keys to making the soil system come alive.”

Awards like this don’t happen because someone is looking for attention. No, they happen because someone’s attention was already occupied looking at small, daily steps to build a successful business. In the same way, farmers don’t practice soil and water conservation because someone tells them they must. They do it because it is their livelihood, they understand their business and they understand stewardship.

Thank you, Dean and Rebecca for telling us the story all over again. And thank you to all the farmers who are telling that story every day.

You can learn more about Mt-Glen Farms, Aldo Leopold and the Pennsylvania sponsors for the Leopold Conservation Award by visiting the Sand County Foundation at www.sandcountyfoundation.org.

The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.