Announcing the 2016 Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest

“Why is it important to know where your food and energy come from, and how can you (or how have you) made changes in your family or school life that reflect this understanding?”

This is the question that students in grades 9-12 will be asked to respond to as part of the 2016 Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest. This exciting pilot program is a special project that I have been fortunate to work on over the last year with a team of passionate people connected with us here at the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo and friends at the nearby Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona. It has been a great way for our organizations to partner together to experiment with offering a statewide program for high school students. Using Leopold’s ideas as a catalyst and modeled after a similar grassroots effort in New Mexico, the goal of this program is to build on Leopold’s legacy by inspiring the next generation of students here in Wisconsin to participate in the evolution of the land ethic through the written word.

The writing prompt is based on the February chapter of A Sand County Almanac. In his “Good Oak” essay, Leopold himself grapples with this very same question of the true sources of warmth and sustenance, while also building appreciation for the oak logs he and his family harvested that are now keeping himself (and his dog) warm during the cold late winter days. As many students across Wisconsin bundle up to face the recent arctic temperatures, the timing couldn’t be better!

2016 Wisconsing Aldo Leopold Writing Contest

To Participate:

Eligibility: Any student enrolled in grades 9th-12th in public, private, and home schools in Wisconsin can submit an essay. Students must submit original work. One entry per person.

Essay length: 500 words or less

Format: All essays must be typed in 12 point font, double spaced, and submitted electronically. If you run into trouble submitting your essay online, please contact The writer’s name may not appear anywhere on the manuscript itself to allow for blind judging.

Deadline: Submissions must be sent by 11:59pm on March 11th, 2016. Entries submitted after the deadline will not be considered.  You can submit completed essays and find resources for teachers and students at the writing contest website.


Three winners from 9th-10th grade $300 each
Three winners from 11th-12th grade $500 each

Writing contest winners will also receive copies of A Sand County Almanac, memberships to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, The International Crane Foundation, and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Our ability to provide such generous awards to the contest winners and having the resources to launch the 2016 Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest would not have been possible without the support of The Boldt Company, Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation, The Natural Resource Foundation of Wisconsin, Conserve School, and CTI Meeting Technology. Thank you!

The writing contest winners will be notified in May 2016 and be invited to attend an award ceremony held at the Leopold Center in Baraboo on Saturday, May 21st, 2016, during our popular spring Open House/Family Day event.

Winning essays will be featured on here on the blog and considered for printing in The Leopold Outlook, the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s member magazine.

After months of planning, I am excited to see how this program is received in communities and schools across the state of Wisconsin. If the success of the New Mexico program is any indication, the planning committee and volunteer judges are in for a lot of reading come March. I am personally looking forward to it!

If you have questions about the program, or if you are interested in helping out by becoming a volunteer judge, send an inquiry to or call 608-355-0279 ext 28.