Ames reads leopold
Ames Reads Leopold – Celebrating an Iowa Native Son’s Land Ethic
Aldo Leopold is widely acknowledged as one of the earliest advocates of wildlife conservation in America. Although Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac was first published in 1949, his words continue to be as poignant today as then. Since 2017, the Outdoor Alliance has coordinated Ames’ Reads Leopold and his contributions to conservation.
The Ames’ event is a community collaboration spanning the ages: adults, children, high school and college students, all reading excerpts from Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and other books. Cosponsors and partners include the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Ames Public Library, Ames Public Library Friends Foundation, Friends of Ada Hayden Heritage Park, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Audubon Society, Outdoor Alliance of Story County, Story County Conservation, and KHOI FM, Story County's local radio station.
Iowa State University is also well represented at Ames Reads Leopold: the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association (SASA), Creative Writing & Environment, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Natural Resources, Ecology and Management, and the Office of Sustainability/ Live Green! Initiative.
The Ames Reads Leopold has been held on a spring afternoon at the Ames Public Library. Details about the March 2021 celebration are still being planned. If you are interested in coming or participating in this event, contact us.
History of Ames Reads Leopold
Since 2008, Aldo Leopold’s legacy has been celebrated in Ames, Iowa through a variety of community events. Erv Klaas, retired wildlife biologist, took the initiative to get this event rolling. Erv had participated in a Land Ethic Leader program sponsored by The Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Afterwards, Erv decided to promote a Leopold event in Ames. Leopold-themed events happen at different times of the year, but are more common during the official Aldo Leopold Weekend in Wisconsin on the first weekend in March, and Aldo Leopold Week in Iowa during the first full week of March.
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The event usually has been held on a spring afternoon at the Ames Public Library. The program commonly includes community members reading excerpts from Leopold’s essays in A Sand County Almanac and other books. Some years have included special guests like Steve Brower from the Leopold Landscape Alliance, and musician Tim Southwick Johnson, “Sand County Songs.”
The 2019 program included a portion of the "Re-Imagining Leopold" Exhibit, featuring works by Kevin Lair and selections of writing edited by Kathranne Knight; each were part of the original exhibit at Iowa State University Museums. The screening of the full-length documentary film, Green Fire, about Aldo Leopold’s extraordinary career and his enduring influence has also been included. One year, Ames High School students gave away prairie plants. Some years, readings by other authors such as Michelle Nihjhuis’s essay “Can Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic Tackle Our Toughest Problems?”, have been included in the program. However the focus is always on reading Leopold’s words out loud as a way to introduce his concepts to the community with an emphasis on the essays from A Sand County Almanac.
A Sand County Almanac continues to be read and studied 70 years after its publication. The book has gained relevance as the environmental movement has grown and as concerns about population growth, soil erosion, pollution and other environmental challenges, including global warming, now affect the whole planet. The book is also recognized as a fine example of American nature writing.
Aldo Leopold’s influence is worldwide; his A Sand County Almanac has been translated into 13 languages. The Ames Reads Leopold is a part of the worldwide community honoring Aldo Leopold and his contributions to wildlife conservation. Our hope is that you will come and enjoy this annual spring event too. Details about the March 2021 celebration are still being planned. If you are interested in coming or participating in this event, contact us.