DENVER — This Earth Day (April 22), 1 million cattle farmers and ranchers in the U.S. are being recognized as having one of the greenest jobs. Cattle ranchers and farmers were selected in a new national survey of American beef eaters as the third-greenest profession from a diverse list of jobs, with park rangers topping the list.

The survey was conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs for The Beef Checkoff Program.

“We work every day to teach our three children what it means to be truly passionate about the land and the animals,” said Gary Teague, a Colo. cattle rancher and environmentalist. “Preserving natural resources is how we make our living and how we secure our family business for our children and grandchildren.”

Two-thirds of U.S. cattle farms and ranches have been in the same family for two generations or more, according to Aspen Media & Market Research, 2008. American cattle farmers and ranchers have embraced the values of Earth Day for generations, and Americans recognize that commitment. Eighty-six percent of Americans surveyed think cattle farmers and ranchers are committed to environmental preservation.

In honor of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, cattle ranchers are celebrating 40 different ways raising cattle can contribute to environmental sustainability. Cattle are raised in every state in the U.S., in nearly every type of climate and geography. Although the practices may vary from state to state or region to region, the goal is the same: leave the land in better shape for the next generation.

Among the 40 are practices that prevent erosion, maintain clean waterways, guard wildlife or recycle resources, while providing a flavorful source of protein for the world. Actions seen as very important by more than half of Americans surveyed include things common to cattlemen like planting crops and grasses to control erosion, rotating cattle pastures to prevent overgrazing and planting trees to provide windbreaks and shelter.

Other interesting survey stats:

? Although park rangers were the leader when consumers were asked to choose green professions, there was no statically significant difference between the second-greenest profession, dietitians, and cattle ranchers and farmers.

? A majority of respondents (86%) believe farmers and ranchers are committed to protecting and preserving land and natural resources.

? Only 22% of Americans surveyed get their impressions about cattle ranches from first-hand experience with a rancher. Twenty-one percent get their impressions from newspapers and magazine articles and 30% from TV shows and movies about the American West.