Arboretum Celebrates Aldo Leopold Weekend with Madison Reads Leopold and Other Events, March 6–8


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 15th-annual public reading of A Sand County Almanac and other Leopold writings on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at the Visitor Center from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

After a welcome at 9:30 a.m., Dave Cieslewicz will read “January Thaw.” Throughout the day, an eclectic mix of public figures and community members 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 selections or stay all day.

Other readers include Mark Miller, Wisconsin state senator; radio personalities Jim Fleming and Chuck Quirmbach; Madelyn Leopold, daughter of Luna Leopold and granddaughter of Aldo; a 5th grader from Lakeview Elementary; 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 2:05 p.m., rare home movie footage will be shown of Aldo Leopold and sons Starker and Luna on a 1927 fly-fishing trip.

First published 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 free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available in the visitor center lobby, including bagels donated by Bagels Forever. 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. Note: the Freeze for Food Run will pass through the Arboretum, with runners using Arboretum/McCaffrey Drive between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Please allow a little extra time for travel and drive with caution.

The Arboretum is also presenting several other free events celebrating Aldo Leopold and Leopold Weekend:

  • Sunday, March 1, 1–2:30 p.m.: In Leopold’s Footsteps. Learn about Leopold’s phenological work and role at the Arboretum. Naturalist-led walk.
  • Friday, March 7, 7–9 p.m.: Green Fire Movie Night. Watch the Aldo Leopold documentary film, the Aldo Leopold documentary Green Fire, followed by a group discussion and reflection.
  • Sunday, March 8, 1:30–3:30 p.m.: Living Like Leopold. Explore Leopold’s values about caring for the land and its inhabitants. Learn how restoration ecology is shaped by his land ethic. Designed for families with children ages 3–11.

Leopold Weekend in Wisconsin began in Lodi in 2000, and in 2006 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