9th Annual Madison Reads Leopold
is March 1, 2014


As part of the Madison area’s celebration of Aldo Leopold Weekend, the UW–Arboretum will host its 9th annual free public reading from A Sand County Almanac and other Leopold works on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at the Visitor Center, starting at 9:30 a.m. Former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz will kick off the event by reading “January Thaw”; the concluding essay – “The Outlook” – is scheduled to be heard at 3:30 p.m.

Throughout the day, an eclectic mix of citizen and celebrity readers will give voice to selected essays detailing Leopold’s phenological observations as well as his conservation philosophy. Listeners can drop in and out to hear their favorite essays or stay the entire six hours. First published in 1948, A Sand County Almanac has prompted generations of people to take better notice – and care – of the natural environment.

Aldo Leopold was the first research director at the Arboretum and was closely involved in its design; his words are as timely, eloquent, and inspiring today as they were when he penned them. Now in its ninth year, the Madison event will include the well-known “calendar” essays, as well as other pieces chosen for their relevance to the Arboretum, the University, and the state of Wisconsin.

At 1 p.m., Emeritus Professor Douglas Hill of the UW School of Music will narrate his symphonic composition “Scenes from Sand County,” inspired by Leopold’s writings. At 1:30 p.m. the Arboretum’s interim director, Dr. Donna Paulnock, will read the address given by Leopold at the Arboretum’s dedication on June 17, 1934 – eighty years ago this coming summer.

Leopold’s essay “On a Monument to the Pigeon” is notably included this year – the centennial of the American passenger pigeon extinction. The last surviving member of the species died in a Cincinnati zoo in September of 1914, and Leopold mourned its loss. “Pigeon” will be read at 1:48 p.m. by Chuck Quirmbach, environment reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Other highlights will include readings by Madelyn Leopold, daughter of Luna Leopold and granddaughter of Aldo; Jed Meunier, great-grandson of Aldo Leopold; Ron Seely of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism; Mrs. Marie McCabe, widow of Leopold’s colleague Bob McCabe; WPR personality Norman Gilliland; a staff member from the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, where Leopold worked when the family first moved to Madison in the 1920s; plus students, educators, naturalists, and representatives of community organizations.

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 view and conservation-related organizations are invited to bring literature for display.

A full schedule of readers and essays is available here. All reading times are approximate. Listeners wishing to hear a particular reader should be at the Arboretum at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time.

Leopold Weekend in Wisconsin began in Lodi in 2000, when now-retired UW Professor of Rural Sociology Tom Heberlein organized the original “Lodi Reads Leopold” event at the public library there. Six years later, with the backing of the Aldo Leopold Foundation and by proclamation of Wisconsin’s governor, the observance went statewide. The first weekend in March was chosen as Leopold Weekend because “4th March, 1948” is the date Leopold appended to his foreword to the Almanac. It would be the last piece of writing he would contribute to the work; six weeks later he would be dead of an apparent heart attack suffered while fighting a brushfire on a neighbor’s property in Baraboo. This year more than 20 Wisconsin communities and many out-of-state venues will hold celebrations. Information about these events can be found at the Aldo Leopold Foundation website.

For general information about Madison Reads Leopold, please see Arboretum events or call 608-263-7888. To inquire about a particular reader or selection, contact Kathy Miner, the local coordinator, at 608-233-2425, or

The Arboretum will offer a special Leopold-themed public tour, Walking in Leopold’s Footsteps, on Sunday, March 2, at 1 p.m. In addition, the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery will hold an “Aldo Leopold Day” on the UW–Madison campus on Saturday, March 1.

To reach the visitor center, enter the Arboretum at 1207 Seminole Highway (just north of the Beltline Highway), and proceed east approximately 1 mile until you reach the main parking lot. Parking is free.

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.