A Guide to Aldo Leopold Celebrations and Events
Perhaps you're here to find out how to join us in celebrating Aldo Leopold Weekend in Wisconsin, celebrated annually on the first weekend of March. Or, maybe you'll be organizing a Leopold-themed event at another time of the year in your community. Either way we hope you will use the resources on this page to help you, and let us know about your event plans so we can work with you on a successful, fun event.
Here are some program ideas that have worked well in other communities that host Leopold celebrations. Want to jump right to a list of resources you can download to help promote and plan your event? Click here.
1. Community readings from A Sand County Almanac
Hearing Leopold's words read aloud brings a whole new life to them.
Public reading events are where Aldo Leopold Weekend events began and they are a classic way to introduce Leopold's ideas to your community! Invite a wide variety of people to be your readers. Who might you invite to read? Here's a short list to get you started:
- Elected Officials
- Leaders of Service Organizations
- Students & Teachers
- Foresters &
- Farmers &
- Garden Clubs
- Land Managers
- Non-profit environmental organization leaders
Some resources to help with organizing public readings:
2. Green Fire Film Screenings
Aldo Leopold Foundation has an exciting new resource to offer to Aldo Leopold Weekend event planners: the first ever full-length (72 minute), high definition film about Leopold: Green Fire—Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time. The movie explores Aldo Leopold's life in the context of American conservation and environmental history, while also illustrating how Leopold's legacy lives on today in the work of people and organizations across the nation and around the world. Click here to learn more about scheduling a screening.
3. Dutch oven cooking workshops
While spending time at the Shack, the Leopold family cooked all of their meals in Dutch ovens over the coals of the fire.
Making food together this way is a fun and easy way to create community connections! Our resident Dutch oven cooking expert is Luann Waters, Oklahoma state faciliatator for the Leopold Education Project. Luann runs workshops on how to cook with a Dutch oven, and she was kind enough to share her recipe handout here for all to use. (Hint: it's much easier than you think!). Click here to download the recipes. (Adobe PDF)
4. Leopold Bench Building Workshops
We get lots of questions about the Leopold bench. Once you know what the design looks like, you will start seeing them everywhere! Nature centers, parks, and private citizens all over the world use this bench design. Our most common question is, "what is the OFFICIAL design that Leopold used? Can you send me plans for it?" Actually, there is no one "correct" bench design. Aldo never wrote down the plans for them, so everyone that has developed plans just bases them on an
existing bench. None of the original benches built by Aldo were still around by the time the bench idea caught on. No wood preservative means they all eventually decayed-- Aldo's daughter Nina told us the benches at the Leopold Shack are about 3rd or 4th generation. They don't last forever! So we have photos to go on, but that's about it. Even with photos, it's difficult to determine a universal design since Aldo just used scrap wood or whatever he had available as materials, and not all his benches were identical. So, this is an activity that deinitely allows room for you to be creative! Some folks modify the angle of the back rest. Some like the benches to be wider to accomodate two adults comfortably. It's up to you. The Aldo Leopold Foundation has not developed official bench plans, but we can share details with you for several plans that exist online. If you use an affordable wood like pine, your materials cost for each bench should be in the neighborhood of $25. You'll also need a square and enough saws, drills, and socket wrenches to go around for your group. Email us for more information, or click here to do a Google search on your own that will turn up lots of variations on Leopold bench building plans!
5. Other fun activities
This is a growing list and we'd be happy to connect you with event planners that have included these kinds of components in their Aldo Leopold Weekend events for more information and resources. Email us for more information!
- Wild game meals
- Fly tying demonstrations
- Active sporting events: fishing, shooting, archery tournaments
- Nature walks
- Nature journal making
- Teacher workshops through the Leopold Education Project
- Field trips / tours of "Leopold landscapes"
- Community clean-up events
- Two man cross-cut saw demonstration
- Student involvement-
essay/art contests, dramatic enactments with readings
- Silent auctions
- Exhibit Hall with displays from partner organizations
- Community forums
- Crane watching / birding
- Screenings of the US Forest Service film, The Greatest Good
- Screenings of the video, A Prophet for All Seasons
Resources to help with planning and promotion:
Getting Youth Involved
As we strive to teach the Land Ethic to folks of all ages the best place to begin is with young people. Leopold events offer a wonderful opportunity to introduce youth in the ideas of Aldo Leopold. A successful event will include many different community groups. Young readers bring parents and grandparents; attendance will increase while everyone learns about Leopold.
Begin by contacting:
- Teachers in schools (home schooled as well)
- Youth leaders of Boy and Girl Scouts, 4-H (see links section for web sites)
- After school teachers
- Leaders of the community
Find ways to get kids involved with the events you've planned:
- Have students as readers
- Get teachers involved with essay, poetry or poster contest
- Involve youth as helpers in the event – passing out programs, helping with refreshments etc.
- Involve high school students in event planning and execution
- Have students read some essays in A Sand County Almanac or read to them
- Have students read one of the biographies of Leopold
- Show a video: Green Fire, Aldo Leopold - Learning from the Land (available in school libraries across the state), or A Prophet for All Seasons
- Organize a school-wide essay or poetry contest
Links to potential partner organizations
Events are much easier to coordinate and staff when planners approached local and national organizations for support. Some of these organizations may be open to providing funding support for your event, but also think about using these folks for instruction and programming expertise and publicity assistance.
Special thanks to Treva Breuch and Ed Pembleton for their assistance in compiling this guide to working with youth. All photo credits, Ed Pembleton, copyright 2005.