The KACD Grasslands Committee is committed to addressing issues affecting the health, preservation, and
management of Kansas grasslands by educating others and promoting the use of best management practices.
By recognizing leaders in the grasslands management arena, this vital natural resource has continued to remain a focal
point of conservation work and stewardship. Resolutions that improve or enhance the best management practices of
Kansas’s grasslands are frequently reviewed in committee and successfully adopted, while educational opportunities are
developed and put into practice.
The committee encourages conservation districts to present local grazing lands awards to those who provide
leadership within their county regarding grassland management. With the cooperation of Sharp Brothers Seed
Company, up to two signs are provided annually for each district to present at their annual meeting.
The Kansas Grasslands Merit Award is a state-wide award from the KACD Grasslands Committee offered annually
in an effort to recognize an individual, organization or business that provides exceptional service and support to the
conservation, management and/or education of the grasslands of Kansas. Many worthy recipients of this coveted award
have been honored over the years and remain as standards of excellence in grasslands management.
Previous Merit Award Winners
2015 Grasslands Merit Award Winners
The Allen Family
Congratulations to the Allen Family as this year’s recipient of the Kansas Grasslands Merit Award. David and Evelyn
Allen of Circleville, and Aaron and Erika Allen of Holton were nominated by the Jackson County Conservation
David and Evelyn Allen of rural Soldier can trace parts of their family’s land in Jackson County, in terms of ownership,
back more than 130 years. The Allens own and maintain a total of 1460 acres of grassland, 1220 of which is owned in
some form by their family. The remaining 240 acres is located on Prairie Band Potawatomi reservation land and is
rented by son, Aaron Allen and his wife Erika.
David and Evelyn grew up in rural Jackson County and have always been involved in the maintenance of the land.
When Evelyn’s parents died in the 90’s the responsibility became Evelyn’s and her siblings’. After college, Aaron
moved back to the family homestead and became involved with the grassland management, incorporating the
knowledge he had gleaned from his courses at K-State, and his part-time employment at the Konza Prairie near
After the family reclaimed some of the property that had previously been owned by family members, the Allens
tackled the challenge of hedge tree and cedar infestation, so bad that Evelyn states, “You couldn’t even drive through most
of the gates without moving things around…” And so they began ridding and controlling brush and invasive weeds by
spot spraying, chain saw, tree shearing, and spring burning of the pastures. Burning off dead pasture as a maintenance
technique is still a “hot issue” for Aaron:
“The grassland evolves with fire. But even with the EPA and the smoke regulations getting to be
difficult, there are still things you can do. Proper timing can really minimize the negative effects
that others get from a pasture burn.”
The Allens own 150 spring calving Red/Black and Simm-Angus cross cattle in which they background their heifers and
finish their steers at the feedlot. They build an average of ½ mile of cross-fence/perimeter fencing per year. Their
water sources include ponds, water facilities below ponds, wells, springs and rural water. Interseeding red clover has
proven beneficial in their grazing rotation. They hay mostly native grass and some brome.
The impressive stewardship efforts of the Allens was rewarded in 2011 as they were the recipients of the Jackson
County 2011 Grasslands Award, which is based upon proper grazing use, alternate water supplies, brush and weed
control, and fence maintenance.
Adding to their already busy lives, the Allens willingly share their knowledge and resources in volunteer services.
David and Evelyn have assisted as buddies with the Conservation District’s Ag/Water Festival, and showcased their
land on tours and workshops. David serves on the Public Wholesale Watershed District board, while Aaron is active
in the Jackson County Livestock Association and serves on the Jackson County Fair Association. The Allen families are
also active in their perspective churches.
As evidenced in their operation, the generational aspect of managing their grassland for health and sustainability is the
essence of the Allens’ management philosophy. Stated simply, Evelyn says “What’s most important to the family is seeing
the grassland be productive and returning to its original state.”
David adds, “Just as important is passing on a work ethic that ensures that future generations will continue to take care of the
land”. His experience has taught him that involvement in rural settings has afforded opportunities to pass on good
work ethics where you can see the “benefits of hard work” and earn a “great sense of accomplishment.” He goes on to
say: “What really summarizes things for me is that the stewardship of the land is kind of a family affair, starting way
back. There’s always been an effort to maintain these stands of grass.”
Daryl Donohue, Grasslands Committee Chairman
David Kraft, NRCS Rangeland Management Specialist
Amber Johnson, NRCS District Conservationist
and Kansas Range Youth Camp Chair (presenter)
Bill Sproule, Rancher, spoke of his positive experiences in
attending range schools.
Click above for photo presentation