Audubon Florida presented its 2019 “Sustainable Rancher of the Year” award to Jim Strickland, a Myakka 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.
Strickland 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 protects the headwaters to two significant slough systems that drain into the Myakka River, and helps maintain water quality and quantity downstream in the Myakka River and Charlotte Harbor Estuary. Strickland has 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.
He is also vice chair and co-founder of the Florida Conservation Group, which 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.