Campaign for Communities 2012

In 2012, local leaders and elected officials stood on the front lines of addressing the impacts of climate change on their communities while at the same time creating green job opportunities, energy savings and a healthier environment.



To advance the green economy on the local policy-making level, Earth Day Network and its partners have invited local officials worldwide to join its annual Campaign for Communities. Formerly known as Global Day of Conversation, Campaign for Communities is a platform for leaders to promote community conversations on the challenges and opportunities related to sustainability. These discussions have helped constituents and other participants achieve a, shared and more profound understanding of how best to address the complex challenges and opportunities involved in building a sustainable future for generations to come. These dialogues will permit for leaders to convey ideas and opinions, by sharing best environmental practices, educating the public, and elevating the prominence of local governments in the global sustainability dialogue.

In April 2012, the campaign successfully convened 1540 locally elected officials in more than 50 U.S. states and 36 countries. In addition, state legislatures passed green initiatives and resolutions in honor of Earth Day and sometimes Earth month. Using the Campaign for Communities platform, local leaders and elected officials can develop their own policy innovations that can be scaled to regional, national and international levels, thus making a significant impact on our global environment.

In total, 111 proclamations were passed in legislative bodies around the U.S., explicitly supporting growing the green economy or environmental education, and Governors representing 15 states had signed Proclamations in honor of Earth Day. Please see below for 2012 highlights

If you are a local leader or work with your local government and want your community to take part in this global initiative for Earth Day 2013, please contact Earth Day Network, at or +1 202 518 0044.

In celebration of our nation’s agricultural families

Each Earth Day, it is important to take time to recognize and thank our nation’s farmers and ranchers. For the conservation-minded among them, every day is Earth Day. Countless agricultural families nationwide sacrifice and develop opportunities to make their operations financially and environmentally sustainable so future generations will be able to enjoy and carry on the fruits of their labor.

This recognition has more impact now because of state leaders who understand the importance of agriculture to conservation outcomes. This year, we at Sand County Foundation were pleased that three Governors personally honored Leopold Conservation Award ( recipients in their own states, during Earth Day-themed ceremonies.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard hosted the Kopriva family for a ceremony at the State Capitol on 12 April. He sent a letter about the importance of agricultural families to the health of South Dakota’s natural resources. In Nebraska, Governor Dave Heineman recognized the Buell family for their efforts that improve air, water, soil, and wildlife habitat during a press conference at the Nebraska Capitol on 20 April. Governor Matt Mead praised the Sommers family for their stewardship of renewable natural resources, while proclaiming 24 April to be “Environmental Stewardship Day” in Wyoming. Profiles of each family appear below:

Kopriva family, South Dakota

The Koprivas were grain farmers but economics and a fondness for cattle prompted the family to transition their cropland to grassland and hayland over the past decade. The Koprivas utilize a rotational grazing strategy that includes cross fencing and water developments, such as two rural water pipelines that are designed to utilize geothermal heat to provide ice-free water for the cattle in remote areas. The family uses controlled burns to combat invasive species. They also have their livestock graze cover crops and crop residue, taking grazing pressure off of their pastures and helping to lower costs and dependence on harvested and purchased feed. The Koprivas enhance wildlife habitat on their ranch by leaving some acres on each quarter of their land for wildlife-friendly enhancements such as tree belt and extra wide fencerows.

Buell family, Nebraska

The Buell family has been practicing conservation in Nebraska’s Sandhills for 130 years. Building on a tradition of conservation that began in 1882, the Buell family continues to maintain and expand upon an environment in which water quality and the region’s native plant life and animal habitat can flourish alongside livestock and crop production. Many of the Buells’ management decisions are made to benefit wildlife habitat. Approximately fifty acres is fenced off around two lakes on their land to provide space for deer, turkey, swan, ducks, and geese. Abundant vegetation along two creeks on the ranch attracts several native wildlife species and trees are planted to provide windbreaks for cattle and habitat for turkey and deer.

Sommers Family, Wyoming

Siblings Albert and Jonita Sommers are third-generation ranchers who are carrying on the land ethic of their ancestors. Albert and Jonita’s concern about a continuation of their family’s conservation legacy led them to enroll their land into a perpetual, 19,000-acre conservation easement, which was the largest private land easement in Wyoming at the time. The Sommers family believes that wildlife and livestock production can go hand in hand, so they take steps to maintain and improve habitat on their land for various species, including mule deer, sage-grouse, moose, pronghorn and migrating waterfowl. Renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote, “The landscape of any farm is the owner’s portrait of himself. Conservation implies self-expression in that landscape.” In the spirit of Leopold, agricultural families across the nation take great pride in the enhancement of their landscapes, and their efforts deserve to be celebrated. Therefore, Sand County Foundation thanks Governors Daugaard, Heineman and Mead for honoring the accomplishments of these outstanding agricultural families. Their leadership helps those outside of the agricultural community understand that these families’ dedication to the health of natural resources often goes unnoticed, yet provides countless benefits for us all.