Leopold Conservation Award

Doing great work for agriculture and conservation

2015 Winner - Prather Ranch, Shasta County

The Rickerts have placed several conservation easements on their ranch to protect wildlife habitat and the land for future generations.

Jim and Mary Rickert have worked in agriculture all of their lives and maintain a deep love of the land they call home. The couple began managing the Prather Ranch property in 1979 and last year became majority owners of the ranch's cattle operation.

Under the Rickerts' guidance, the ranch has grown to 35,000 acres and comprises land in five counties. The business incorporates several stages of beef production, including a cow/calf herd, feed yard, processing facility and retail meat outlets. In addition to providing certified organic dry-aged beef, Prather Ranch supplies bovine raw materials for the biomedical industry, such as bones and tendons for use as human replacement parts and hides for collagen. Other raw materials are sold for medical research and dietary supplements.

"To stay in the business of agriculture, it's important to think outside the box and be as creative as you can," Mary Rickert said.

Being environmentally friendly is an important part of the Rickerts' ranching philosophy, they say. Conservation easements have been placed on several Prather Ranch grazing properties, providing protection of vernal pools and riparian areas where deer, elk, wild turkeys and the endangered bank swallow reside. The easements also help ensure the ranch will be there for future generations to appreciate.

"As agricultural producers, we're entrusted with the management of a good portion of the country's land," Jim Rickert said. "Suffice it to say, we should always strive to do the very best job of taking care of it."

More Information:
2016 Award Application
Leopold Conservation Award