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Audubon Florida Sustainable Rancher of the Year 2019: Jim Strickland

Audubon Florida is presenting its 2019 “Sustainable Rancher of the Year” award at the Florida Cattlemen’s Association annual convention at Marco Island to Jim Strickland, a rancher with six decades of experience in the industry.

Each year, Audubon honors a rancher who has demonstrated exemplary environmentally-sustainable ranching practices and makes efforts to conserve native wildlife habitat. Audubon is honored to be able to present this award to Jim Strickland this year.

Jim Strickland grew up ranching with his father along the west coast of Florida in the 1950s and 1960s. Jim took over the family cattle operations at the age of 17 when his father passed away.

Jim is the owner of Strickland Ranch and managing partner of Big Red Cattle Company and Blackbeard’s Ranch, a 4,530-acre cow/calf operation that borders Myakka State Park. Blackbeard’s Ranch is located just east of the Sarasota-Bradenton Metro Area—one of the fastest growing regions in the country; large intact ranches are becoming increasingly rare in this part of Florida. The ranch provides an important buffer to the Myakka River State Park protects the headwaters to two significant slough systems that drain into the river and helps maintain water quality and quantity downstream in the Myakka River and Charlotte Harbor Estuary.

Jim recorded his first conservation easement on Strickland Ranch 20 years ago. Jim Strickland has been working to protect Blackbeard’s Ranch under conservation easements and restore the natural systems on the ranch. NRCS completed a 1500-acres Wetland Reserve Easement there in 2018, and Strickland has also placed the property on the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and Florida Forever lists, seeking further perpetual protection of the ranch through multiple easements.

In addition to his hands-on ranch management, Jim Strickland is Vice-Chairman and co-founder of the “Florida Conservation Group” (FCG). FCG advocates on behalf of Florida ranchers for science-based land protection and the need for more conservation funding. As part of his role with FCG, he has brought together ranchers from around the state to advocate for land conservation and incentive programs. When he is not at a ranch, he can often be found in the state capitol, talking to legislators about cattle and conservation.

Florida cattle ranch lands contain some of our state’s most important wildlife habitat. Jim Strickland’s longtime work as a conscientious, conservation-minded rancher exemplifies the qualities Audubon seeks to honor as “Sustainable Rancher of the Year 2019.”

For more information:

Charles Lee
Director of Advocacy
Audubon Florida
(407) 620-5178

Paul Gray Ph.D.,
Okeechobee Science Coordinator
Audubon Florida
(863) 202-6658