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Press Release: Foundation to host Tom Lyon Family Leadership Symposium on January 26, 2022 (virtual)


CONTACT: William Nelson |

Ralph K. Morris Foundation to Host Annual Tom Lyon Family Leadership Symposium on January 26, 2022, from 1 – 2 p.m. CST (virtual)

MADISON, WI. Today—The Ralph K. Morris Foundation is excited to announce that its annual Tom Lyon Family Leadership Symposium will take place on January 26, 2022, and will feature keynote speaker John Piotti, president of American Farmland Trust. Piotti will invite attendees to consider: what does farmland preservation have to do with reversing climate change, combating environmental degradation, and challenging racial injustice? “We will invite attendees to ‘think big’ about innovative, land-based solutions to some of the most vexing challenges of our times,” said Morris Foundation President William Nelson.

The Symposium will be held virtually and free of charge, but advance registration is required at Attendees from Wisconsin in particular are encouraged to tune in for exciting news regarding upcoming initiatives in the state on the part of American Farmland Trust and the Ralph K. Morris Foundation. In 2021, AFT was awarded a five-year, $7 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The project, funded by the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, seeks to stem farmland loss, incentivize adoption of regenerative practices on protected land, and identify farmland access opportunities for historically underserved producers in Wisconsin.

The Tom Lyon Family Leadership Symposium honors the late Tom Lyon, who was a dedicated agribusiness, cooperative, and farmland preservation leader in Wisconsin and across the country. His contributions included serving on the AFT national board and co-founding the Ralph K. Morris Foundation. “Following Tom Lyon’s passing last March, we have been working to expand our support of farmland preservation,” Nelson explained. “AFT’s work aligns so well with our land and water stewardship mission.”

During the event, which will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. Central (virtually), the Foundation will also announce the 2021 recipients of The Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Scholarship, which provides funding to graduate students studying agricultural cooperatives. Support of cooperative education is a key part of the Morris Foundation’s mission, along with land and water stewardship.

The annual Leadership Symposium is the foundation’s 18th. It was renamed The Tom Lyon Family Leadership Symposium in 2021. “We are honored to have John Piotti as the first speaker since the Symposium was renamed. Tom would be pleased,” Nelson said. Previous agricultural and conservation leaders who’ve addressed the symposium include Ralph Grossi, former AFT president, former USDA Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland, and current Secretary Tom Vilsack.

For more information, contact:

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation: William Nelson | American Farmland Trust: Kara O’Connor |

REGISTER for the event HERE

Download a copy of this press release below:

Press Release - RKMF_2022-Symposium_Final
Download PDF • 159KB

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