Jim Faulstich, Highmore, S.D., was recently recognized with the 2011 Gamma Sigma Delta Distinguished Alumus Award from South Dakota State University
A 1972 general agriculture graduate of SDSU, Faulstich operates Daybreak Ranch with his wife, Carol, and their daughter and son-in-law, Jacquie and Adam Roth.
Known as a leader in sustainable land use and grassland conservation, the second generation, Highmore rancher said his management philosophy was born of necessity.
"The economy in the 1980s made us realize that if we didn't take a different approach to managing the ranch, we would end up a statistic," says Faulstich, of a time when many ranchers were forced to sell off their land and cattle. "We were spending too much money making and feeding hay."
The sustainable approach Faulstich took focused on improving grassland health and natural resources.
"We placed natural resources as our first priority, not necessarily the cattle," Faulstich says.
More than two decades later, Daybreak Ranch is managed for year-round grazing, energy efficiency and sustainability. Today the family operates a multi-enterprise operation that includes a cow/calf operation, a custom grazing operation and two different hunting operations.
Faulstich carves out time to share what he has learned about adaptive management and resource conservation with ranchers across South Dakota and the nation. He is the vice chairman of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition, represents South Dakota on the national board of directors of Partners for Conservation and contributes to the Leopold Conservation Award.
Faulstich was nominated for the recognition by Barry Dunn, dean of the SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and director of SDSU Extension.
"Jim has played a unique leadership role in the development of the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition. He is known for his stewardship of natural resources and has worked to recognize conservation efforts through the Leopold Conservation Award, an honor for South Dakota landowners who demonstrate responsible stewardship and management of natural resources," Dunn says.
Gamma Sigma Delta is an honorary agriculture organization that focuses on the maintenance and improvement of relations of agriculture and related sciences to other industries recognizing the responsibilities of those engaged in all aspects of agriculture to humankind.
Each year the South Dakota State University chapter recognizes students, faculty and alumni for excellence in teaching, research, extension and service to agriculture. SDSU is one of 52 chapters nationwide.
Editor's note: For our 2009 feature on Faulstich, see http://dakotafarmer.com/customPage.aspx?p=71.