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Happy Birthday, Aldo!

Leopold with his bird dog, Gus.

January (the 11th to be exact) would have been Aldo Leopold’s 125th birthday.  What is remarkable is that people still notice and publicize his birthday 64 years after he died.  It speaks to the legacy that Leopold left with his land ethic and stewardship message and his still well-read book A Sand County ALMANAC (published in 1949 a year after his death).

Leopold’s message of restoration of the land and concern for the health of wildlife echoes the mission of Pheasants Forever.  Leopold was a hunter and enjoyed hunting pheasants.  He was an astute observer of the natural world and worked to live a peaceful co-existence with nature while understanding the need for balance.  He raised his five children to also appreciate the natural world and time spent outdoors was special to all of them.  I think he would have liked our No Child Left Indoors® initiative and I know he would have approved of the Leopold Education Project and the work PF does with educators, our chapters and others to teach about the importance of habitat and restoration of land.

If you have not read A Sand County ALMANAC, I really encourage you to do so (available in paperback from Pheasants Forever).  If you don’t know about the Leopold Education Project, PF’s award-winning conservation education program, and the materials we have, go to www.lep.org for more information.  Leopold’s messages are even more important today and can be used in schools, book clubs, churches (great Earth Day material), community centers, PF chapter events and university classes.

Get ‘em Outdoors is written by Cheryl Riley, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Education and Outreach. Email her at CRiley@pheasantsforever.org

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4 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Aldo!”

  1. Mark Strand says:

    The thing that strikes me about A Sand County Almanac is that it slows you down, and makes you wish you knew more about plants and all the animals that are dependent upon them. I have a hard-cover illustrated edition from my dad, and “Companion to A Sand County Almanac,” edited by J. Baird Callicott, and spend some time in them from time to time. So well worth reading, more today than ever…

  2. Cheryl Riley says:

    Great comment, Mark. It’s interesting how his message speaks as much to today’s issues than in the 40s.

  3. Vince Gresham says:

    Leopold’s greatest contribution was not the IDEA that people should expand their definition of community, it was his strategy for making it happen. It seems clear that he understood that the best way to make the reader appreciate wildlife enough to want to include it in their definition of community was to give them the experience, as much as words possible can, of interacting with wildlife. Despite the fact that people try to summarize A Sand County Almanac by describing the land ethic, its call to action is actually very subtle. Its power is in its description of the positives. The plants and animals in A Sand County Almanac are well-developed characters that compel you to care about them. For those of us who are trying to expand our communities’ appreciation of the outdoors, we can look to Leopold’s words in A Sand County Almanac for a beautiful example of how to talk about the outdoors in a positive and inviting way.

  4. John Idstrom says:

    You nailed it Vince. Great comment. What he said.


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