Commissioner Blackham Earns
2012 Rural Honors Award
As the son of a Moroni turkey producer and the grandson of a crop farmer and sheep rancher, Leonard Blackham knows agriculture, and he knows rural Utah. Indeed, across the state, there are few, if any, that can stake a claim to better understanding Utah agriculture, and even fewer still that have made as positive an impact for the state's farmers, ranchers and rural communities.
Leonard grew up in the small Sanpete County town of Moroni. Family, religion, scouting and farming have always been the center of his life. As a youth, he participated with 4-H and FFA, which set the stage for a career of farming and public service.
Leonard's extensive volunteer service includes President of the Utah Young Farmers Association and numerous assignments with the Boy Scouts of America. His activities with local irrigation companies and the Utah Association of Conservation Districts earned him the UACD's "Presidents Award" in 1996. He has served the Utah Farm Bureau Federation on county, state and national advisory boards, leading to the Utah Farm Bureau recognizing him with the "Friend of Agriculture Award" in 1996.
Leonard's public service began as a Sanpete County Commissioner in 1989, where he served for four years and was also elected chairman of the Utah Association of County Commissioners. Beginning in 1993 he served in the Utah Senate for twelve years, including ten years in leadership positions. His influence as Senate Budget Chairman, Majority Whip and Majority Leader, along with chairing many commissions, committees and taskforces on agriculture, wildlife, water and energy, to name just a few, has led to long-lasting improvements across rural Utah.
Leonard was appointed Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food on January 5, 2005, by Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., becoming the state's 6th Commissioner since Utah adopted the single commissioner structure. During his years in office as Commissioner he established new programs and advocated for existing programs, such as Utah's Own and AgriAdvocates, to market Utah's agriculture products, reconnect consumers with their food supply and promote the benefits of locally grown and processed foods.
Leonard has worked to improve the health of the state's rural rangelands and watersheds through the Utah Grazing Improvement Program and Utah Partners for Conservation and Development, and has actively sought to strengthen the profitability of Utah's farmers and ranchers. Partnerships are second nature to the Commissioner, and these programs focus on the concept that cooperation and partnerships generate local involvement and stakeholder participation, which ultimately lead to greater overall results.
Although he now spends a great deal of time in Salt Lake City and traveling the state, Leonard still lives in Moroni with his wife Laura. Together, they have six children and eleven grandchildren, all of whom can take pride in the rural legacy their father and grandfather has built.
For this lasting legacy to Utah agriculture and Utah's rural communities, it is an honor to present Commissioner Leonard Blackham with the 2012 Rural Honors Award from the Utah Center for Rural Life at Southern Utah University.
(left) Wes Curtis, Executive Director of Regional Services and
Director of the Utah Center for Rural Life at Southern Utah University
presents Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food,
Leonard Blackham with the 2012 Rural Honors Award.
Posted August 16, 2012