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Mt-Glen Farms Earns Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 01/13/2020

Mt-Glen Farms has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award.

Dean and Rebecca Jackson own and operate the third-generation dairy farm located near Columbia Cross Roads in Bradford County. Mt-Glen Farms is known for protecting the environment while raising high-quality dairy cattle. The Jacksons use agricultural conservation practices to retain nutrients on the soil, while protecting water quality.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers and foresters in 20 states who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land.

The Jackson family was presented with $10,000 and a crystal award at the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show, January 10 in Harrisburg. The award is presented in Pennsylvania by Heinz Endowments, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and Sand County Foundation.

"The Heinz Endowments' sustainability program promotes community health and vitality through sustainable food systems, and as part of this work we are pleased to cosponsor the Leopold Conservation Award. We believe the Leopold Conservation Award, and the outstanding leadership in agriculture that it recognizes, plays an important role in encouraging the growth of Pennsylvania's sustainable agriculture movement," said Andrew McElwaine, Vice President of Sustainability for The Heinz Endowments.

"Dean and Rebecca Jackson provide us with the ultimate example of how farmers build upon their environmental stewardship successes. Throughout the years, they've added new conservation practices after new conservation practices to improve overall soil quality, while preventing runoff and erosion at Mt-Glen Farms," said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert. "The Jackson's commitment and attention to detail is also demonstrated in the internationally-recognized genetics of their Holstein cows and the overall success of their dairy and crop farm."

"Farmers make their living off the land so it's intuitive for these private landowners to apply conservation practices in a way that benefits their business and the environment," Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. "When we use best conservation practices, it shows respect to the communities beyond our own property."

"Leopold Conservation Award recipients are at the forefront of a movement by America's farmers and ranchers to simultaneously achieve economic and environmental success," said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer.

Among the many outstanding landowners nominated for the award were finalists: Glen Cauffman of Millerstown in Perry County and Troy Firth of Spartansburg in Crawford County. The first Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award was presented last year to the DiFebo family (Harvest Home Farms) of Bangor.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Pennsylvania is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from platinum sponsor, Heinz Endowments, and the assistance and support of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Sand County Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Center for Dairy Excellence, Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association and The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania.

In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called "an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity."

For more information on the award, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.

When it comes to cows and conservation, Mt-Glen Farms is known for quality. Just as families of prized Holsteins have produced superior genetics, a strong conservation ethic has been passed down among the farm's owners.

Dean and Rebecca Jackson's herd of high-quality dairy cows is internationally known within the registered cattle industry. Sales of their offspring has benefited the farm's bottom line while improving the Holstein breed's bloodlines. Mt-Glen Farms is also a place where conservation and production agriculture have been inseparable for three generations.

Dean's grandfather, Scott Jackson, began farming amid the scenic hills of Bradford County in 1929. He practiced contour strip cropping, planted trees and hedgerows, built surface water diversions, and preserved habitat for wildlife after developing the farm's first conservation plan.

After Dean's father Ben took over the farm, he voluntarily constructed a manure storage facility that allowed him to efficiently use manure nutrients to grow crops while protecting water quality by limiting the need to spread manure during the winter. Like father like son, Dean built heifer housing with enough capacity to provide the same flexibility needed for proper manure management.

As he gained greater awareness of the importance of soil structure and the negative effects of compaction from tires, Dean began changing the way he farmed.

Motivated to farm in a way that mimics the natural system, he adopted a no-till system for crop production and implemented a rotational grazing system on 20 acres of pasture. Trees were planted on 40 acres near a creek. The riparian area provides habitat for wildlife and space for runoff to infiltrate. He says these changes have "made farming fun all over again."

Dean showed leadership by adopting a nutrient management plan in the 1990s, even though it was only required of Pennsylvania's largest livestock farms. Every crop field at Mt-Glen Farms is surrounded by a permanent grass border to prevent soil erosion, and is regularly soil sampled to evaluate its nutrient needs. In recent years, the Jacksons have planted rye grass as a cover crop into standing fields of corn and soybeans. This conservation tool improves soil health, prevent erosion and naturally control weeds.

Dean has been described as having a contagious enthusiasm for agricultural conservation. Last spring another 2,000 tree seedlings were planted on the farm. Two-thirds of the farm's energy needs come from a solar energy array on a machinery shed's roof.

All three of Dean and Rebecca's children are involved with the farm, including daughter Katie who is the full-time herd manager. The Jacksons regularly host groups from 4-H clubs to legislative leaders who want to learn how conservation can work alongside production agriculture. The family behind Mt-Glen Farms have emerged as conservation and dairy industry leaders who simply love what they do.


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