The Leopold Education Project (LEP) is an interdisciplinary environmental education curriculum that nurtures ecological literacy and a deep respect for nature. Although mainly created for middle school and high school students, it can also be adapted for use with all ages. It aims to disseminate a land ethic, enhance appreciation for nature, deepen scientific knowledge of ecological processes, and foster critical thinking through interactive activities. Through a blend of arts and sciences, the curriculum equips learners with observational, stewardship, and reflective skills.
The Leopold Education Project was originally developed by Council 16, an association of eight Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts. They based their curriculum on the essays found in A Sand County Almanac, as well as activities created by a Wisconsin biology teacher in the late 1980s. Later, the national conservation group, Pheasants Forever, was introduced to the curriculum and saw the potential to share it more widely. In 1994, they adopted LEP as their national educational program and used their ties with chapter groups across the country to organize a network of state coordinators and facilitators who could bring the curriculum to teachers nationwide.
Over the years, a wide array of additional materials was developed and added to the original curriculum. In 2013, Pheasants Forever transferred ownership and distribution of the LEP resources to the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Today, we are fortunate to have a talented and passionate network of volunteer coordinators who lead workshops on LEP materials for educators all over the country.
To instill in learners, through direct experience, an appreciation and respect of the natural world so they may develop a positive relationship with the land.
To advance learners’ scientific understanding of the land community’s natural processes so that they may make informed decisions about conservation and land use issues.
To advance learners’ critical thinking skills through hands-on/minds-on activities.
The Leopold Education Project (LEP) curriculum guide contains 20 interdisciplinary lessons in Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, based on the classic essays in A Sand County Almanac. The lessons, targeted mainly toward middle and high school students, include engaging activities and background information for instructors. However, many lessons may be adapted for use with all ages, as suggested discussion questions help guide individual and group reflection. Students will spend time outdoors honing their skills in reading the landscape through observation and hands-on participation. The curriculum guide is designed for use in both formal classroom environments and as part of non-formal outdoor education experiences.
Optional Exploration Cards are available for purchase as a supplement to the LEP curriculum.
A team of LEP State Coordinators has aligned the lessons in the curriculum with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as well as suggested connections with other environmental education curricula. These correlations are listed in a downloadable PDF rather than in the print curriculum, so that we may periodically update them.
We’re lucky to have a talented and passionate network of volunteer coordinators who lead workshops on Leopold Education Project materials for educators all over the United States. Browse our directory to find your nearest coordinator.