“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
― Aldo Leopold
If you really enjoy Nature and want to learn new ways to appreciate and conserve wildlife, don’t miss the Leopold Education Project (LEP) Nature Conservation events hosted by the Pickerington Public Library the first Saturday of each month in 2012. It kicked off in January, but everyone is welcome to attend all or any of the remaining sessions. During the programs, participants share readings from Aldo Leopold’s book, “A Sand County Almanac,” and join in entertaining and informative Nature activities, indoors and out, including a ‘make-and-take’ project.
The program series, developed by local Nature enthusiast Jacqueline Boggs, a Project Wet, Project Learning Tree and LEP facilitator, is based on the works of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, and offered in partnership with the Leopold Education Project, “an interdisciplinary conservation curriculum … [designed to] instill a love, respect and admiration for the land – called a ‘Land Ethic’ – leading to environmentally responsible citizenship.” (excerpted from the program flyer)
Aldo Leopold was born, and learned his lifelong love of Nature in Iowa in 1887. Growing up during the early days of the conservation movement in the United States, he had the opportunity and skill to be a pioneer in the fields of ecology and wildlife management. Leopold was a driving force in the establishment of the first official wilderness area in the U.S., the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, published the first wildlife management textbook and was the first chair of the University of Wisconsin Game Management department, the first of its kind in the world.
Leopold writings were widely published in magazines and professional journals throughout his career, and shortly after his unexpected death in 1948 from a heart attack while fighting a wildfire in a neighbor’s yard, his most popular work, “A Sand County Almanac” was published. This collection of natural history essays established Leopold’s reputation as an important figure in conservation and ecology in the United States.
You can learn more about Leopold’s work and all that has followed from it at the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s website.
“A Sand County Almanac” is a series of essays and Nature musings by an interesting and charming Nature observer. The early chapters are organized by months, giving Leopold an opportunity to describe seasonal changes at his farm home in Wisconsin. This “year-in-review” is followed by stories and clever insights from Leopold’s travels around North America.
Each Pickerington LEP event participant receives a copy of “A Sand County Almanac” which is much more than worth the price of admission – which is free! During the Saturday, January 7 program participants read the first chapter, “January Thaw,” which seemed ironically appropriate since we haven’t even had a freeze yet this year in Ohio! Among other of Leopold’s observations, this section told of the mice who lost their under-the-snow tunnels and how this impacted them and the other animals who shared their habitats, from the animals’ perspectives.
The first session was led by Susan Setterlin, Ohio LEP Region 1 Coordinator and former Columbus Zoo educator. Susan told us the story of Aldus Leopold’s life, led the reading and then shared an engaging animal tracking activity set up in the library’s meeting room. (I hope they didn’t mind the mud on the carpet!) We learned to interpret tracks of local wildlife and what to look for if we ever get snow this winter.
The next program in the series takes place on Saturday, February 4, 1-3 pm. I have read ahead a little bit in the Almanac and the February chapter describes the cutting down of a large, dying tree for firewood, from a locally historic perspective. Leopold takes us back through time while presenting the development of the conservation movement as it would have been experienced by the slowly, steadily growing tree. This is a recurring technique in the book – what environmental changes mean to the plants and animals being discussed. Very interesting!
The Pickerigton Public Library is located at 201 Opportunity Way in Pickerington, OH 43147. The library is set in a large, open area surrounded by trees that includes a high school and its grounds and ball fields. I didn’t have time to explore, but it looks like a fun place to look for Nature lessons, too!