Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nature Geek Vacation Destinations - Aldo Leopold Shack

If you are ever near Baraboo, WI make sure to stop and visit the Aldo Leopold Center and more importantly the Aldo Leopold Shack

The Shack
Leopold is widely regarded as the father of wildlife management and is one of the pioneering figures of environmental conservation.  In 1935 while working as a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Aldo Leopold purchased a tract of worn out farmland near the Wisconsin River.  For the next 14 years, this piece of land would become Leopold's personal experimental station where he and his family sought to repair the damage done by deforestation, wildfire, and poor farming practices.  Included on property was a run-down chicken coop that Leopold repaired and expanded to use as a cottage during weekend and summer stays at the property - this building became known as "the Shack". 

The land around the Shack looks very different than it did during Aldo Leopold's lifetime
Many of the ideas that Leopold formulated on this site were condensed into his only commercially published book "A Sand County Almanac".  This book is required reading for students of natural resources across the country and should be on everyone's reading list.  Unfortunately, Leopold died of before the book was published; he suffered a heart attack while helping a neighbor fight a grass fire.  The conservation ideas that Leopold championed during his lifetime have inspired generations to conserve and improve natural resources around the world. 

As someone who works to educate others about the natural world and conservation, Aldo Leopold is one of my personal heroes.  It was exciting to visit the site described in "A Sand County Almanac" and see the legacy of Leopold's work.  A special thrill was to sit in a "Leopold bench" in front of the Shack.  Leopold benches are so-named because there are several photographs of Aldo Leopold sitting in benches of this design that he constructed at the site out of scrap lumber.  I have built several of these benches in the past for schools and plan to build more in the future.

Being a nature geek at the Aldo Leopold Shack - near Baraboo, WI

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