Arboretum Celebrates Aldo Leopold Weekend with Madison Reads Leopold and Other Events, March 1–3


Madison Reads Leopold is a community event celebrating the enduring written works of the great conservationist. In honor of Aldo Leopold Weekend, the UW–Arboretum will host the 14th-annual public reading of A Sand County Almanac and other Leopold writings on Saturday, March 2, 2019, at the Visitor Center from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The first weekend in March was designated as Aldo Leopold Weekend in 2006.

Starting at 9:30 a.m., former Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz will kick off the event with a reading of “January Thaw.” Throughout the day, an eclectic mix of public figures and community readers will give voice to Leopold’s keen observations and eloquent conservation philosophy. The readings will include the well-known January–December “calendar” essays, as well as other pieces chosen for their relevance to the Arboretum, UW–Madison, and the state. Listeners are welcome to drop in for favorite essays or stay all day.

Readers include Madison Poet Laureate Oscar Mireles; radio personalities Jim Fleming and Chuck Quirmbach; Madelyn Leopold, daughter of Luna Leopold and granddaughter of Aldo; Mark Miller, Wisconsin state senator; a 5th grader from Randall School; 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, writers, representatives of community organizations, and “plain citizens.”

Arboretum director Karen Oberhauser will lead off the afternoon readings with excerpts from the speech Aldo Leopold gave at the Arboretum’s dedication ceremony 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.

At approximately 2 p.m., arts and education consultant Jon Becker will narrate Leopold-related selections from Earth Day Portrait. Created by jazz pianist and composer John Harmon, Earth Day Portrait is a symphonic setting for texts by John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson.

First published in 1949, A Sand County Almanac has prompted generations of people to take better notice—and care—of the natural environment. 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of the environmental classic.

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 display.

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

Also for Leopold Weekend:

  • Friday, March 1, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.: Green Fire Brown Bag. Watch and discuss the Aldo Leopold documentary film over lunch. BYO food and beverage. Free, no registration required.
  • Sunday, March 3, 1–2:30 p.m.: In Leopold’s Footsteps. Learn about Leopold’s phenological work and role at the Arboretum. Free naturalist-led walk.
  • Sunday, March 3, 1:30–3:30 p.m.: Celebrating Aldo Leopold. As a boy, Leopold read, explored the land, kept notes, and drew sketches. During this family nature program we will investigate the Arboretum and create journals for observations and drawings. Designed for families with children ages 3–11.

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.

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 in Madison are home to protected prairies, woodlands, wetlands, savannas, springs, shoreline, a notable horticultural collection, and Wisconsin native plant gardens. The Arboretum also offers more than 17 miles of walking trails and 4 miles of biking road as well as hundreds of learning and volunteer opportunities. 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