Aldo Leopold

On this date in 1887, internationally renowned wildlife ecologist Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa. Aldo was oldest of four in a family of Lutherans who rarely attended church. Leopold obtained his Master of Forestry from Yale University in 1909, worked in the Southwest, then transferred to Forest Products Laboratory, in Madison, Wis. He became professor of Game Management at the University of Wisconsin in 1933 and chair of its new Department of Wildlife Management in 1939. Leopold married a Roman Catholic, Estella Bergene, in 1912, and they had five children. His churchgoing was limited to being married in a church and attending his daughter Nina's wedding in a church. Beyond that, he believed "there was a mystical supreme power that guided the Universe, but to him this power was not a personal God. It was more akin to the laws of nature," according to biographer Curt Meine (Aldo Leopold: His Life and work, 1988). In the 1930s Aldo acquired a worn-out farm near Baraboo, Wis., dubbed "the Shack," as a weekend retreat. He applied his respect for living lightly on the land and for "harmony between people and the land" to restore it. It remains the only "chicken coop" listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While helping a neighbor put out a grass fire, Leopold suffered a heart attack. His influential book, The Sand County Almanac, composed of sketches of nature and philosophical essays, was published posthumously. Several collections of essays and books remain in print. D. 1948.

“He thought organized religion was all right for many people, but did not partake of it himself.”
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—Aldo Leopold, remark to his daughter Estella, cited in A Fierce Green Fire by Marybeth Lorbiecki (1996)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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