Arboretum Hosts “Madison Reads Leopold: Voices of a Land Ethic” to Celebrate Aldo Leopold Weekend, March 2–3

Aldo Leopold writing outside on a bench at the shack with dog lying in the grass at his feet.

Aldo Leopold writing at the shack with his dog Gus (Photo: Aldo Leopold Collection/UW–Madison Digital Archives)

In honor of Aldo Leopold Weekend, the UW–Madison Arboretum will host a community reading of A Sand County Almanac and writings by other environmental thinkers on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at the Visitor Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Listeners are welcome to drop in for favorite selections or stay all afternoon. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available, including tea and snacks.

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 readings from contemporary environmental thinkers, including Robin Wall Kimmerer, J. Drew Lanham, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, and Camille T. Dungy, 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 still timely, eloquent, and inspiring.

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. Leopold Weekend in Wisconsin began in Lodi in 2000, and in 2006 it became a designated state observance. It is held the first weekend in March to recognize when Leopold finished the foreword to A Sand County Almanac, which he appended with the date “4th March, 1948.”  It was Leopold’s last writing for the work, since he died unexpectedly six weeks later.

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

Leopold nature walk on March 3: The Arboretum will also offer a nature walk for Aldo Leopold Weekend called “In Leopold’s Footsteps,” on Sunday, March 3, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Visit key sites and learn about Aldo Leopold’s early phenological research and experiments to restore Wisconsin ecosystems during his time at the Arboretum.

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 collection of trees and shrubs, 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.


Contact: Susan Day, Arboretum communications manager,