Nebraska ranching family receives national award
LINCOLN, Neb. – The Mathewson family is the recipient of the 2011 Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska. This award is given by the Sand County Foundation in partnership with Nebraska Cattlemen, Cargill, and a diverse group of agriculture and conservation organizations, including the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The award recognizes individuals or families who demonstrate extraordinary natural resource conservation and land management.
The Mathewson family has been committed to conserving natural resources on their ranch for three generations. Rodney Mathewson started a small farming and cattle operation near Potter, Neb., in the 1940s. His son, Randy, and grandson, Beau, continue to run the Mathewson ranch today in the southern Panhandle of Nebraska.
Randy and Beau were recognized as the Leopold Conservation Award winner by Governor Dave Heineman at the State Capitol on April 21 – the day before Earth Day. Beau said, for Nebraska ranchers, every day is Earth Day.
“When people think about Earth Day, they may think of hippies or tree huggers,” Beau joked. “But Earth Day is about taking care of the environment, and no one knows more about the importance of that than Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Conservation is key to our way of life.”
Randy went on to say that his family’s love of the land isn’t that unusual, “I honestly don’t know of anybody ranching today who isn’t concerned about the conservation of the land. We’re not unique.”
During their acceptance remarks, both Randy and Beau mentioned the USDA Natural Resources Conservations Service as being one of the key partners in helping them make their ranching operation more sustainable and profitable.
“The cost share assistance provided by NRCS programs has helped us make a better profit and a better place for wildlife,” Randy said.
Kristin Miller, district conservationist in the Sidney NRCS field office, has worked with the Mathewson ranch for many years, helping them get the most benefit out of their ranching operation in the most sustainable way possible. That has been achieved through the installation of conservation practices.
Several conservation practices on the Mathewson’s property have been installed through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Through EQIP, farmers and ranchers may receive financial and technical help to apply conservation practices on agricultural land. According to Miller, EQIP has been a very successful program in the southern Panhandle.
“EQIP works well for several different types of operations because it is so flexible. There are incentives available through the program that can help landowners improve their cropland, grazing land, forest land and wildlife habitat,” Miller said.
For more information about EQIP and other conservation programs offered by NRCS visit your local USDA Service Center, or click on /programs.
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