Veteran no-tiller and educator Joel Myers is selected as 1 of 2 finalists for the 2023 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award.

As an NRCS state agronomist, he spent 20 years advocating for and mentoring on no-till, helping his home state of Pennsylvania become a leader in the no-till movement. Before his retirement, Myers and his brother operated a 75-acre family farm, in operation since 1946.

The $10,000 Leopold Conservation Award honors farmers and forestland owners who go above and beyond in their management of soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat on working land.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 27 states. In Pennsylvania, the award is presented with The Heinz Endowments, Horizon Farm Credit and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to environmental improvement. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for “a land ethic,” an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

The finalists are:

Troy Firth of Spartansburg in Crawford County: As owner and manager of Firth Maple Products, Firth shows that forestry can be economically profitable and ecologically nurturing. He’s also the state’s second-largest producer of maple syrup and founded the Foundation for Sustainable Forests. His unconventional approach to selecting timber for harvest fosters healthy trees and abundant bird habitats. To better understand his impact, the National Aviary is conducting a multi-year study of songbird diversity in forests he manages.

Myers Family Farm of Spring Mills in Centre County: Joel Myers uses a variety of conservation practices to prevent soil erosion on his corn, soybean and alfalfa fields. A no-till and crop rotation system is combined with growing cover crops of tillage radish, ryegrass and hairy vetch. Wildlife, bird and fish habitats have been enhanced by tree plantings and stream bank improvements on 75 acres of wild and forestland land. Myers regularly shares his expertise in agronomy, farming and conservation through field days and workshops.

The award will be presented during this winter’s Pennsylvania Farm Show. Applications submitted by landowners or on their behalf earlier this year, were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. For more information, visit

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