Through his writing, Aldo Leopold left a legacy of conservation knowledge and philosophy to inspire future generations. In its third year, the Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest has challenged high school students to consider Aldo Leopold’s fondness for wildness and describe their favorite place in nature and what makes it wild. Students were encouraged to read the “Foreword” from A Sand County Almanac for greater understanding.
In partnership with the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and sponsors, Conserve School and CTI Meeting Technology, we are pleased to share with you the 2018 winning essays in a series of posts here on the Building a Land Ethic blog.
By Will Scheder
Grade 11, Somerset High School
In our world today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect to the wilderness. The land is covered in concrete, or plowed under for our own needs. Protections have been extended to people, ideas, and places, but not the thing we all need the most: the land.
When I look around, all I see is man. We have so thoroughly conquered the land that it is unrecognizable. It has changed dramatically since the days of Leopold, a mere sixty years ago. Today, the world is warming at alarming rates. Flora and fauna are dying faster than ever before. Skyscrapers tower above the concrete jungle upon which they rest, and the blacks and grays of man are more common than the greens and browns of the wilderness
That is why the North Shore of Lake Superior is so stunning. The Superior Hiking Trail weaving through its ridges is a true rarity. I have visited the North Shore many times for Boy Scouts, and it is a place where humans and the land interact and coexist harmoniously. When I am up there, I don’t view the wild as something that is mine or something that I own. Rather, it is something I work in tandem with. There is a land ethic when you are among those hills, on that trail. I am merely a part of the biotic community, not the master of it. You pick up your trash and use downed wood. The land is a friend up there, not something to be overcome.
When I am among the towering pines of Minnesota, I feel more truly calm than anywhere else. Up there, among all my friends, I can completely forget all the worry and stress that plague me. Joking with friends, laughing around a campfire, or hiking on the twisting trail, I enjoy every second I am on the North Shore.
In a world where it seems Leopold’s words fell on deaf ears, the North Shore sends a message of hope. It is a place where, at least for now, Aldo Leopold’s land ethic has been heard, and although it is sad that that is rare, it is hopeful as well. Despite all the noise of man, despite all we destroy, Aldo Leopold’s words have been heard somewhere. On the North Shore, you realize that, despite the concrete that expands ever outward enslaving the land, a small part of the land is not in chains. It is free. And that is something beautiful, something to celebrate. In this world of black and gray, the North Shore reminds me that green is still out there somewhere.
Will Scheder is beginning his senior year at Somerset High School. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing, hunting, and the outdoors in general.
Feature photo, top, Iona’ Beach on Lake Superior, courtesy of Justin Meissen / CC BY 2.0
Explore the rest of the winning essays!
Links will become available for the other winning essays as they are published to the blog.