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Mark Lefebvre named 2024 recipient of the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence

The Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District is pleased to announce Mark Lefebvre, Conservation Planning Manager, as the 2024 recipient of the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence.

The Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence recognizes individuals at the local, state, and national level for extraordinary achievements in and contributions to the soil and water conservation movement in the United States. This annual award was created by the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) in 2017 to honor the legacy of Hugh Hammond Bennett, the founder of NRCS and the father of soil conservation.

“The Stearns County SWCD is incredibly proud of Mark for receiving the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award,” said Dennis Fuchs, Administrator. “Mark’s dedication to conservation planning and commitment doesn’t go unnoticed – he has made a real difference in protecting our valuable resources in Stearns County. Mark has been an invaluable resource to the Stearns County SWCD and other natural resource organizations in Minnesota.”

Lefebvre’s agricultural roots run deep, having started his career by returning to the family farm northwest of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. He was the fourth-generation owner/operator along with his brother and father. They farmed about 1,300 acres and milked about 100 dairy cows. While he was farming, he converted their cropping system to a no-till and strip-till operation as he realized the benefits associated with these practices. Due to a changing landscape and outside opportunities, the family sold the farm in 1999. He then spent a few years with agriculture retailers in seed sales.

Lefebvre provides outstanding conservation planning and technical assistance services to hundreds of agricultural producers in Minnesota over his 18-year career. Now overseeing a team of four conservation planners, Lefebvre is a sought-after mentor to his peers and partners in addition to being a trustworthy advisor in the agricultural community. His background on the farm and extensive professional training have allowed him to be an effective communicator and develop relationships with producers and peer conservationists alike through his advocacy of one-on-one, whole farm conservation planning. As a result of his efforts, conservation practices have been implemented on thousands of acres of farmland across Stearns County as he works to protect water resources and improve soil health.

Lefebvre was honored at the National Association of Conservation Districts’ Annual Meeting in San Diego, California on February 13, 2024.

The Stearns SWCD is a local unit of government that manages and directs natural resource management programs at the local level. Districts work in both urban and rural settings, with landowners and with other units of government, to carry out a program for the conservation, use, and development of soil, water, and related resources.


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