Fostering the Land Ethic through the legacy of Aldo Leopold
The Aldo Leopold Foundation's mission is to weave a land ethic into the fabric of our society; to advance the understanding, stewardship and restoration of land health; and to cultivate leadership for conservation.
The five children of Aldo and Estella Leopold (pictured above) established the Aldo Leopold Foundation as a not-for-profit conservation organization in 1982.
About the Foundation
The Aldo Leopold Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, donor-supported organization based at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The foundation’s mission is to inspire an ethical relationship between people and land through the legacy of Aldo Leopold. Leopold regarded a land ethic as a product of social evolution. “Nothing so important as an ethic is ever ‘written,’” he explained. “It evolves ‘in the minds of a thinking community.’” The foundation's membership forms a modern day "thinking community," and the foundation's programs create opportunities for rich, diverse, and productive dialogue with members and others about humanity’s relationships to land, allowing the idea of a land ethic to unfold in myriad ways.
The Aldo Leopold Foundation owns and manages the original Aldo Leopold Shack and 300 surrounding acres, in addition to several other parcels, and we also manage much of the remainder of the 1,800-acre Leopold Memorial Reserve. The foundation is committed to the ongoing restoration of the Leopold Shack and Farm, where, in 1935, Aldo Leopold and his family undertook a revolutionary experiment in returning health to a worn out farm. Celebrated in Leopold’s classic A Sand County Almanac, the transformed land now supports vibrant forests, wetlands, and prairie and draws visitors from around the world. First published in 1949, A Sand County Almanac has sold over two million copies in ten languages.
The foundation’s headquarters are located in the Leopold Center, located less than a mile from the Leopold Shack and Farm. Opened in 2007, the Leopold Center was built using pines the Leopold family planted in the 1930s and ‘40s and implements a wide spectrum of green building techniques and technologies. The Leopold Center begins to demonstrate the many ecological, economic, and cultural harvests we may begin to reap when we commit to caring for land.
As the primary advocate and interpreter of the Leopold legacy, the foundation manages the original Leopold farm and now-famous Shack, serves as the executor of Leopold's literary estate, encourages scholarship on Leopold, and serves as a clearinghouse for information regarding Leopold, his work, and his ideas.
The foundation's land stewardship initiatives work with neighbors and others to foster an understanding of the total land community. Science and Stewardship programs encourage ecological and ethical use of private and public land, promoting an understanding of the total land community. Education programs serve 5,000 - 7,000 visitors on-site each year, in addition to many thousands more served through this website, our Green Fire film, and other outreach programming, including a clearinghouse of Leopold teaching tools for educators.
Leopold's words have stirred many to a personal ecological awareness. The foundation's goal is to share the legacy of Aldo Leopold and to awaken an ecological conscience in the people of our nation. As long as we care about people, land, and the connections between them, we have hope for sustainable ecosystems, sustainable economies, and sustainable communities.