The Land Ethic Leaders Program

In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold set forth his most enduring idea: the “land ethic,” a moral responsibility of humans to care for people and the land, and strengthen the connections between them. This idea is extremely relevant in today’s society, but it can be difficult to define, discuss, and implement.

To begin this monumental task, we need leaders who are deeply committed to rolling up their sleeves and building a land ethic at the grassroots level in communities everywhere. This kind of leadership requires an understanding of both the things that are hard, and the things that are hopeful about how we work to inspire and build a land ethic with others.

During the program, you will engage in meaningful discussions about the challenges to developing an environmental ethic, and the points of connection that may provide common ground for the way forward.

What is the Land Ethic Leaders program?

The two-day Land Ethic Leaders program equips participants with tools to connect wider audiences to Leopold’s land ethic, and to deepen their own understanding of and engagement with this idea through dialogue about the meaning and value of conservation.

Two people talkingOur “Observe, Reflect, Participate” framework is based in Leopold’s own method of building a land ethic with his family and students. That is, participants explore and deepen their land ethic during the program by observing the outdoors, participating in an environmental service project, discussing important conservation issues, and reflecting both on their learning in the training and what they feel called next to do.

Attendees come away with new relationships, tools, ideas, and facilitation skills for continuing to develop and articulate their own land ethic, bringing their values and ideas into action, and inspiring others back home to do the same.

Who should attend?

Anyone interested in building community and connection around conservation issues is welcome. Participants include natural resources professionals, conservation leaders, students, college professors, environmental educators, and engaged citizens.

What are the benefits?

1. By taking part in discussions about the big questions around conservation, we'll collectively explore the challenges and opportunities to developing and building an environmental ethic. Discussions are designed to help you come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of your own views as well as those thaQuote from participantt differ, a critical skill for engaging with your community back home.

2. Attendees also have a chance to co-lead discussions. In planning and leading your discussion, you will also build on listening and facilitation skills, which are also crucial components to leadership of any kind.

3. The “Observe, Participate, Reflect” model provides a framework to help you think about your approach to any challenge in a new and open way. The program will recharge you by building clarity, commitment and community around environmental values to help carry you forward in your work. It also gives you a set of tools to help spark dialogue about the land ethic in your community, including our EMMY® award-winning Green Fire documentary about Aldo Leopold (external link) and much more.

Schedule and meals:

A detailed agenda will be sent to participants prior to the program, but the rough agenda for all Land Ethic People observing natureLeaders programs is as follows:

Day one: 9am - 5:30pm. Includes lunch and optional group dinner at the end of the day.
Day two: 8am - 5pm. Includes breakfast and lunch.

You must be able to attend the full two-day training. Partial attendance (e.g., one day only) is not possible.

Registration Fees:

The cost for the two-day Land Ethic Leaders workshop is $200. This includes most of your meals during the program and program materials, including a copy of the Green Fire film licensed for public screening (a $350 value). Travel and lodging is on your own. We have arrangements with a very affordable local hotel in Baraboo, and there are also great camping options nearby as well.

Open Call Program Dates:

Typically we host two open call sessions of the program at the Leopold Center each year, one in June and one in August. Please subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter to be notified of dates as soon as they are announced!


Partner Program Dates:

The Aldo Leopold Foundation is pleased to be involved in a partnership to bring our popular Land Ethic Leaders program to two Missouri locations in November 2016.


November 9-12 at the Bull Shoals Field Station near Kirbyville, MO

For environmental educators, naturalists, and others who work to share conservation messages with the public. This program takes place at the beautiful and secluded Bull Shoals Field Station, where on-site lodging is available. This retreat-like setting will be a great opportunity to unplug and connect with other conservation educators in the region. Following the Bull Shoals Land Ethic Leader workshop, another training will be offered focused on the Leopold Education Project, an interdisciplinary curriculum for grade 6-12 based on the essays in A Sand County Almanac. The curriculum is designed for use in formal and non-formal educational settings. Educators who work with young people are encouraged to take part in both programs.

Download Bull Shoals program flyer (PDF)

Register for the Bull Shoals session.


November 14-16 at the Watershed Center in Springfield, MO

For businesses, city and county agencies, and local community leaders. This program will begin on Monday, November 14th with an evening screening of Green Fire followed by a lecture on Leopold's many connections to the state of Missouri throughout his life by environmental historian Susan Flader. The Monday night program is open to the public (not just workshop participants). More details coming soon.

Download Watershed Center program flyer (PDF)

Register for the Watershed Center session.


Contact Anna Hawley at or 608.355.0279, ext. 28 with questions.