Madison Reads Leopold Celebrates the Conservationist on Saturday, March 4


Madison Reads Leopold is a community event celebrating the works of the great conservationist during Aldo Leopold Weekend. The UW–Arboretum will host the 12th-annual free public reading from A Sand County Almanac and other Leopold writings on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at the Visitor Center starting at 9:30 a.m. “Citizen Dave” Cieslewicz will kick off the event with “January Thaw.” The last essay reading is scheduled to end around 3:45 p.m.

Throughout the day, an eclectic mix of citizen and celebrity readers will give voice to Leopold’s eloquent phenological observations and conservation philosophy. Listeners can drop in and out to hear favorite essays or stay for the entire event. Readers include Wisconsin Public Radio personalities Jim Fleming and Chuck Quirmbach; Madelyn Leopold, daughter of Luna Leopold and granddaughter of Aldo; Ron Seely of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism; Mrs. Marie McCabe, widow of Leopold’s colleague Bob McCabe; a staff member from the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, where Leopold worked when the family first moved to Madison in 1924; plus students, educators, naturalists, representatives of community organizations, and “plain citizens.” First published in 1948, A Sand County Almanac has prompted generations of people to take better notice – and care – of the natural environment.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., composer Douglas Hill will narrate his symphonic composition Scenes from Sand County. Incorporating excerpts from “If I Were the Wind,” “January Thaw,” and “Marshland Elegy,” the work depicts the seasonal progression of Wisconsin’s natural landscape, interweaving Leopold’s poetic prose with the music.

Aldo 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. The Madison event will include the well-known “calendar” essays, as well as other pieces chosen for their relevance to the Arboretum, UW–Madison, and the state.

Madison Reads Leopold is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available in the visitor center lobby. Brown-bagging is permitted but food must remain in the Visitor Center. Leopold archive materials and artifacts from the UW’s extensive collection will be on view and conservation-related organizations are invited to bring literature for display.

A full schedule of readers and essays is available on the Arboretum website. Reading times are approximate; listeners wishing to hear a particular reader should arrive at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time.

The Arboretum will also offer the public tour “Walking in Leopold’s Footsteps” on Sunday, March 5, at 1 p.m. The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery’s Saturday Science family program will be about Aldo Leopold on Saturday, March 4, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Leopold Weekend in Wisconsin began in Lodi in 2000, and six years later it became a designated state observance. The first weekend in March was chosen because Leopold appended the date “4th March, 1948” to his Almanac foreword. It would be his last writing for the work, since he died unexpectedly six weeks later. For more information about Leopold Weekend and events around the state, visit the Aldo Leopold Foundation website:

Considered the birthplace of ecological restoration, the UW–Madison Arboretum is a teaching and research facility that conserves and restores land, advances science, offers public outreach, and benefits from community involvement. The 1,200-acre grounds are home to protected prairies, woodlands, wetlands, savannas, springs, shoreline, a notable horticultural collection, and Wisconsin native plant gardens. It also offers 20 miles of walking trails and 4 miles of biking road as well as hundreds of learning and volunteer opportunities. The Arboretum is located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway. The main entrance is at 1207 Seminole Highway. The Visitor Center is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Arboretum admission is free.

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Contact: Susan Day, Arboretum communications coordinator, (608) 265-3355 or; or Kathy Miner, Madison Reads Leopold event coordinator, (608) 233-2425 or