Help us Write the Shack’s Next Chapters

Leopold Week  •  Programs and Events

The Aldo Leopold Foundation will be closed to the public for a private event on Saturday, September 30.

Our Campaign to Write the Shack's Next Chapters Together

Thank you for your support as we write the Shack’s next chapters together!


Campaign Update—September 1, 2023

Read Polishing Leopold’s Crown Jewel, a blog post detailing the all-staff paint scraping day and the interior paint project on the horizon! Thank you to our consulting professional and long-time friend of the foundation, Bud Skupniewitz, for helping us determine what type of paint to use!

WINCT Shack Scraper

The foundation’s staff scrape the Shack. Top right picture is Bud painting the Shack’s door

Campaign Update—July 29, 2023

On Tuesday, the foundation’s site manager Arik Duhr created biochar in a flame cap kiln with help from Brian Zweifel, DNR Forest products specialist, using scraps of wood leftover from the harvested pines project under the Writing Its Next Chapters Campaign. Biochar offers a way for the foundation to be a good steward of the resources the Leopold family so intently planted by giving the pine material a chance to live on for hundreds of years. Biochar enriches the soil and sequesters carbon. It will be used in the Future Leaders Center greenhouse, gardens, and the Shack prairie.

creating biochar in flame cap kiln near the Shack

An image taken while creating biochar in a flame cap kiln near the Shack

Campaign Update—July 8, 2023

As a “small” element of our ongoing restoration work around the Shack and farm, we recently worked to return a self-sustaining Draba population to the very spot where Aldo first encountered it along the Sand Blow! Leah Bieniak, Leopold Foundation Program Associate, discusses how this plant ‘of no importance’ is the star of restoration:

Program Associate Leah Bieniak sprinkling Draba seeds in the Sand Blow.

Program Associate Leah Bieniak sprinkling Draba seeds in the Sand Blow

Draba specimens collected near the Wisconsin River.

Draba specimens collected near the Wisconsin River

Campaign Update—June 8, 2023

After the Shack’s roof replacement

Two things happened to increase the longevity of the Shack! The white pine next to the Shack was pruned to minimize needles falling and collecting on the roof. Since needles and moss hold moisture on the wood cedar shakes, pruning the tree will allow the cedar roof to get more sunlight, airflow, and the ability to dry completely.

Before the roof replacement

The roof was also replaced as part of the Writing Its Next Chapters Campaign. Thank you to all who have contributed to this critical care for the Leopold Shack and Farm. We’ve reached 81% of our fundraising goal! Your continued support makes our work possible!

Campaign Update—May 23, 2023

applying an oil-based wood preservative to the exterior of the Shack

An oil-based wood preservative was applied to the Shack this week. This treatment minimizes decay and rot and was last completed almost twenty years ago. The preservative was applied to keep the Shack as close to how it appeared in 1948, and to protect the Shack for generations to come! Thank you, Thomas Skupniewitz!

Check back soon for an update on the upcoming interior wall washing process!

Campaign Update—May 5, 2023

  • The Leopold Pines were harvested in February and March. 8,000 board feet (approximately 70 trees) have been thinned on the Leopold Shack and Farm. Additional pines will be thinned in the next year.
  • Stewardship Fellow Max Sorenson writes: “To further honor these trees, and the ideals they represent, the Foundation will be producing Leopold benches made from this Leopold pine, offering a chance to share this special material far and wide.” in his blog article, Thinned “Pines above the Snow.”

    white and red pine trees

    A stack of milled red and white pine

  • On April 7, the land stewardship crew completed a 5 acre prescribed fire on the Shack prairie. The Leopold Shack and Farm is home to the second oldest prairie restoration in the world.
Prescribed fire on the Shack prairie

Prescribed fire on the Shack prairie in April 2023

Campaign Update—Jan.12, 2023

The all-new Virtual Shack Tour was released on January 11 (Aldo Leopold’s 136th birthday)! The Virtual Shack Tour offers an opportunity for those near or far to discover this humble piece of land in Baraboo, WI in a reimagined way. Featuring never-before-seen footage, historic photos, and family stories, this all-new virtual tour experience has it all!

You can watch the Virtual Tour here:

An inside look at the making of the Virtual Shack Tour!

Campaign Update—Sept. 23, 2022

Restoration and preservation efforts are underway at the Leopold Shack & Farm. The most recent updates include an installment of a French drain, the removal of oak wilt, and tree pruning.

You can read about it here!

The Land Stewardship crew install a French drain around the Shack.

Campaign Update—Aug 22, 2022

“Together we did it! I wish to thank all of you who made donations to meet the challenge and help raise $40,000 to to restore the Leopold Family Shack, a National Historic Landmark.

This means so much to me because Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac opened my eyes to the mysterious and enchanting natural world and convinced me to become a wildlife biologist, a satisfying, fulfilling and meaningful life. It is also my way of paying it forward to spread the land ethic and engage people of all ages, but especially today’s youth.

I see the Shack and its surrounding landscape as a symbol and beacon for the future of promoting the land ethic. The Leopold center with its visitor facilities and shack tours introduces thousands of people from all over the world to the meaning and importance of the land ethic.

Stewarding the Leopold Archives, including his original writings, sketches, photographs, artifacts, and class materials, and making this information available for researchers is so important to preserve the Leopold legacy.

I am particularly encouraged by the Leopold Foundation’s Future Leader’s Program to train and inspire the next generation of young people to pursue careers in the field of conservation.

Thank you for supporting this important work.”
—Nathan Johnson

Campaign Update—August 13, 2022

Here is a before and after view of this week’s Sand Barrens Restoration project deemed “Punch-through” by our land stewardship crew! The work included; removing non-desirable trees, invasive species, and woody brush that wouldn’t be traditionally found in Sand Barrens. An additional benefit is we can now see the Wisconsin River from the Shack.

Sand Barrens After

Sand Barrens Before

Campaign Update—June 30, 2022

Double Your Byline!

“I am convinced that if you open yourself to any of the myriad landscapes on the face of the earth, you will feel at home wherever you find yourself.”
—Nathan Johnson

Recently, we received amazing news from under the big sky of Montana—lifelong Leopold advocate Nathan Johnson pledged to match all of the incoming donations to this Shack upkeep campaign, up to $20,000!

We can’t thank Nate nearly enough for his inspired generosity.

Writing the Leopold Shack’s Next Chapters

At the humble site of the Leopold Shack and Farm in Baraboo, WI, elements of the land ethic and A Sand County Almanac were drafted in the actions of Aldo, Estella, and the whole Leopold family. Now, it is up to us to write the Shack’s next chapters together!

Over 2022 and 2023, the Aldo Leopold Foundation will execute a long list of restorative projects to protect and preserve the historical integrity of the Shack, the Leopold Pines, and the entire landscape of the Leopold Farm. We will also upgrade and modernize our ability to share with the world this icon of the land ethic, including a complete, searchable transcription of the family’s “Shack Journals,” and an exciting, immersive online Virtual Shack Tour.Donate

Below, check out the many different ways your gift will help us write the Leopold Shack’s next chapters!

Digitally Archiving the Leopold Shack Journals

The Leopold Family documented their weekly visits to the Shack between 1935 and 1948 in the Shack journals. The Shack journals consist of over 1,000 pages of intimate, handwritten entries on phenological events, ecological restoration experiments, land management, and cherished personal stories. The Shack journals contain many of Aldo Leopold’s observations that inspired the 22 beloved essays in A Sand County Almanac.

Here’s where you come in; there are so many more observations on natural history events that have yet to be discovered. The physical collection of notes from the Shack journals are scanned and available for the public at UW- Madison Digital Aldo Leopoold Archives, and are waiting to be transcribed for ease of reading and searching. There are many more of Aldo Leopold’s thoughts and observations yet to be discovered for research, educational opportunities, and future essays!

We are looking for volunteers to help transcribe. Volunteers can participate virtually and will be working with Senior Fellows to help add valuable context. If this sounds like you, please fill out this form. We will be starting the project this summer.

Watch as Education Fellow, Kei Kohmoto, introduces the Leopold Archive transcription project:

Projects on the Leopold Landscape

The Leopold family’s original purchase in 1935 was 58 acres and marked the beginning of their stewardship journey. One of their first acts of stewardship was stabilizing the soil by planting pine trees in the spring of 1936. The family put restorative efforts into the chicken coop which affectionally became known as the Shack and began restoring the Shack prairie. All of which, were influential in Aldo’s writings of A Sand County Almanac.

We are quickly approaching 100 years of the Shack as a place of inspiration. We are working with historic preservation specialists to replace the roof and address drainage problems to preserve the wooden wall boards. Any work we do on the Leopold Shack and Farm is to keep the building and landscape as close to how it was in 1948 and how Aldo would have remembered it. This is manageable with the building but it becomes much more challenging with the landscape.

It is an ecological and emotional decision but the Leopold pines planted on sandy soil need to be thinned for the health of the trees that remain. The process of identifying trees is very scientific and not taken lightly. In addition to the health of the trees, we are improving the second oldest prairie restoration in the world by removing invasive species and conducting prescribed burns. We invite you to come along and witness this exciting journey over the next two years of renewal of a historic landmark and surrounding environment!

Site Manager, Arik Duhr, discusses the project scope related to the Shack, pines, and prairie here:

Virtual Tour of the Shack

The Leopold Shack has always been a place to commune with nature and with each other. It has historically been a place of intellectual sharing and education outreach; the impact of the Shack has historically reached those outside of its physical boundaries. In many ways, the Leopold family’s profound impact has consistently grown beyond the Shack and Farm and you can be a part of this next step in their legacy.

We continually look for ways to reach audiences who may not have the opportunity to visit. Virtual programming is yet another way to reach those beyond the borders of the Shack. Creation of a virtual tour will allow us to share this historic place with scholars, professors who might share the experience in their classrooms, and other individuals. A virtual tour experience will allow for inspiration in a whole new and meaningful way.

Please watch as Virtual Programming Associate, Kyra Lyons, describes the importance and potential impact of a virtual Shack tour experience across the globe:

Bonus: A Special Message from Chuck Leavell

Watch as Chuck Leavell offers a message of support for the Writing Its Next Chapters Shack campaign:

Watch Our Programming

Watch the entire program below: Aldo Leopold Foundation staff McCale, Arik, Kei, Kyra, and Buddy, with a special message from Rolling Stones music director and certified “Tree Man” Chuck Leavell. The program walks through the many, exciting ways your gift helps to keep the Leopold Shack legacy vibrant for future generations.

Finally, did you miss our June 21st Lunch with Leopold Event? Watch it here!


Questions? Contact Deb Nieuwenhuis, Donor Stewardship Coordinator, at| 608.355.0279 ext. 270