Madison Reads Leopold text with line drawing of two sandhill cranes

Madison Reads Leopold is a community read-aloud celebrating the life and legacy of Aldo Leopold. MRL has been a celebratory gathering for more than fifteen years.

In 2024, Madison Reads Leopold: Voices of a Land Ethic will take place on March 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Arboretum Visitor Center. Join us for a community reading of selections from A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold and writings by other environmental thinkers, including Robin Wall Kimmerer, J. Drew Lanham, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, and Camille T. Dungy. Listeners may come and go throughout the event.

Throughout the afternoon, community members will give voice to Leopold’s keen observations and eloquent conservation philosophy. The readings will include the well-known “calendar” essays as well as other pieces chosen for their relevance to the Arboretum, UW–Madison, and the State of Wisconsin. Readings from contemporary environmental thinkers will be incorporated to amplify perspectives, values, and experiences of ethical relationships with the land.

After a welcome at 1 p.m., the afternoon will kick off with selections from Aldo Leopold’s speech at the Arboretum’s dedication ceremony nearly 90 years ago on June 17, 1934. Leopold was the Arboretum’s first research director and closely involved in its design; his words are as timely, eloquent, and inspiring today as when he penned them.

First published 75 years ago, in 1949, A Sand County Almanac has prompted generations of people to take better notice – and care – of the natural environment. Madison Reads Leopold is a community celebration organized for Aldo Leopold Week.

“What a wonderful event to be part of every year to honor Leopold, and to start to know our ecological community. Thank you for this tradition!” — Reader

Reading Schedule

Times are approximate, please arrive 10 minutes early for any particular reading. Schedule is subject to change.

1 p.m. – Welcome – Maddie Smith, community education coordinator, UW Arboretum

1:07 p.m. – The Arboretum and the University (1934 dedication address) – Susan Carpenter, Wisconsin Native Plant Garden curator, UW Arboretum

1:17 p.m. – Foreword to A Sand County Almanac Kathy Miner, naturalist, UW Arboretum

1:23 p.m. – January Thaw – Charlotte Meyer, Department of English, Edgewood College

1:28 p.m. – The Geese Return – Christian Schmidt, community member

1:34 p.m. – Draba – Eric Liljequist, elementary school teacher (retired), Aldo Leopold School

1:36 p.m. – Sky Dance – Jim Berkelman, professor, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, UW–Madison

1:41 p.m. – Prairie Birthday – Mia Keady, Leopold Fellow, UW Arboretum, and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

1:47 p.m. – Letter to a Wildflower Digger – Jim Fitzgibbon, naturalist, UW Arboretum

1:52 p.m. – Smoky Gold – Levi Wood, naturalist, UW Arboretum

1:59 p.m. – 65290 – Stu Levitan, historian

2:10 p.m. – Ecopoetry

2:12 p.m. – “The Blue” by Camille T. Dungy – Megan Link, community member

2:15 p.m. – “What Is It?” by Mary Oliver – Karen Oberhauser, community member

2:18 p.m. – “Remember” by Joy Harjo – Nansi Jo Colley, professor emerita, UW–Madison


2:31 p.m. – Welcome back

2:33 p.m. – Marshland Elegy – Bill Barker, community member

2:44 p.m. – Goose Music – Madelyn Leopold, community member

2:55 p.m. – from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

2:56 p.m. – Preface – Darcy Kind, conservation biologist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

3:00 p.m. – Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide I – Nick Utphall, Pastor, Advent Lutheran of Madison Christian Community

3:10 p.m. – Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide II – Rebecca Wallace, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service

3:16 p.m. – Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide III – Aishwarya Veerabahu, Research Fellow, UW Arboretum, and Department of Botany

3:24 p.m. – from The Home Place by J. Drew Lanham

3:26 p.m. – Thinking (part 1) – Josh Goldman, associate director, UW Arboretum

3:34 p.m. – Thinking (part 2) – James P. Roberts, Sterling North Society

3:44 p.m. – Final Readings from A Sand County Almanac

3:46 p.m. – Thinking Like a Mountain – Deb Weitzel, City of Middleton Sustainability Committee

3:51 p.m. – The Outlook – Jonathan Rosenblum, community member

3:56 p.m. – Closing remarks