State Fair Alert: AFAN, Sand County Foundation and Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery Program to Host “Conservation in Agriculture Day” Programs August 29

Nebraska agriculture’s conservation practices and how they impact wildlife take the stage on “Conservation in Agriculture Day” Wednesday, August 29 at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island.

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) is partnering with the Sand County Foundation (SCF) and Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery program to help educate Fair goers about the Nebraska agriculture industry’s commitment to farmland stewardship and how wildlife, particularly birds, benefits from this endeavor.

“The purpose of this joint effort is to stress the importance of the relationship between good farming practices and sustainable soils as they relate to Nebraska’s wildlife,” said Kristen Hassebroook, executive director of AFAN.

Fontenelle Forest Recovery Program will have birds like this Chinkapin the Broad Wing Hawk on display at the event on August 29th.

The Sustainability Pavilion’s stage will feature on-the-hour presentations by Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery Project, entitled ”Raptor Recovery and Conservation in Agriculture Go Hand in Talon.” Several of the Project’s birds will be on site, including the red-tailed hawk, eastern screech owl and barn owl.

“Birds of prey such as these play an important role in our ecosystem,” says Denise Lewis, director of the Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery Program. “It’s vital that we work closely with Nebraska’s farmers to ensure that we maintain healthy soils, so these birds can thrive into the future.”

Along with a diverse group of partners, AFAN and SCF will be co-hosting five informative tables in the Sustainability Pavilion’s Activities Tent. The participating organizations include the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Pheasants Forever, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, UNL Extension service, and Audubon Nebraska.

Craig Utter, Coordinator of Sand County Foundation’s Nebraska Leopold Award, urges Fair goers to “explore the beneficial relationship between agriculture and Nebraska’s diverse bird population,” said Craig Utter, Sand County Foundation’s coordinator of the Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award. “Join us at the interactive displays on healthy soils, water, wildlife, partnerships and stewardship.”

The Stewardship table will be staffed by Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award (NE LCA) recipients, SCF and AFAN personnel. Utter says the annual Leopold Conservation Award “recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation by private landowners.”  Two past NE LCA recipients will be present at the table to answer questions about their commitment to conservation. The 2018 NE LCA recipients Jim and Lora O’Rourke, owners and operators of the RuJoDen Ranch in Chadron, and 2012 NE LCA recipients Homer and Darla Buell, owners and operators of the Shovel Dot Ranch in Rose, near Basset, will be present at the event.

For further information about AFAN, Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, and Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery Program, go to the following websites: AFAN,; Sand County Foundation,; Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery