As a Senior Fellow with foundation, I continue to write, speak, teach, and engage in other outreach activities that grew from publishing my biography of Aldo Leopold in 1988. Although I’ve moved on to a wide range of projects since as a conservation biologist, writer, and historian, I am never far removed from my professional roots as a Leopold scholar. I serve as an adviser and resource to the foundation, providing its staff with historical background, assisting with current programs, and contributing to discussions of future needs and challenges. I’ve also had many opportunities to represent the foundation in our partnerships with other organizations.
My academic background studying Leopold and conservation history proved very useful in sorting through the complexities of contemporary conservation challenges. At DePaul University in Chicago, I majored in English and history. I was then attracted by the interdisciplinary graduate programs in what is now the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning my master’s and PhD from the institute. Currently, I’m an adjunct faculty member at UW-Madison, a senior fellow with the Center for Humans and Nature, and a research associate with the International Crane Foundation. I am also a founder and active member of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance in Sauk County, WI.
I’ve authored and edited several books, including the biography Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work (reissued in a new edition in 2010), and Correction Lines: Essays on Ecology and Conservation (2013). I also recently edited for the Library of America the definitive collection of Leopold’s writings, Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac & Other Essays on Ecology and Conservation (2013). My work as an onscreen guide in the Emmy Award-winning documentary film, Green Fire (2011), was particularly rewarding.
Lately, my favorite quote is from “The Land Ethic,” in which Leopold states that, “Nothing so important as an ethic is ever written… It evolves in the minds of a thinking community.” I appreciate this statement because, with it, Leopold avoids proclaiming a land ethic and instead invites everyone to participate in building it.