Although The Aldo Leopold Foundation is currently closed to visitors through March, start planning now to make your pilgrimage to the Shack, we’re working hard to get it ready for you and others. Can’t wait to see you!

Land Ethic Leaders

In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold set forth his most enduring idea: the “land ethic,” a moral responsibility of humans to care for people and the land, and strengthen the connections between them. This idea is extremely relevant in today’s society, but it can be difficult to define, discuss, and implement.

To begin this monumental task, we need leaders who are deeply committed to rolling up their sleeves and building a land ethic at the grassroots level in communities everywhere.

This kind of leadership requires an understanding of both the hard and the hopeful things in how we work to build a land ethic with others. Many times when we talk about people’s relationship to the Earth, we are debating issues rather than having a conversation about values. During the program, you will learn a facilitation method that invites a group of people to have reflective conversation in community about the challenges to developing an environmental ethic, and the points of connection that offer common ground for the way forward.

What is Land Ethic Leaders?

The two-day Land Ethic Leaders program equips participants to connect wider audiences to Leopold’s land ethic, and helps them deepen their own understanding of this idea through dialog about the meaning and value of conservation.

Our “Observe, Participate, Reflect,” framework is based in Leopold’s own method of building a land ethic with his family and students. That is, participants explore their land ethic by observing the outdoors, participating in an environmental service project, discussing important conservation issues, and reflecting both on their learning in the training and what they feel called to do next.

Attendees come away with new relationships, tools, ideas, and facilitation skills for developing and articulating their own land ethic; bringing their values and ideas into action; and inspiring others back home to do the same.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone interested in building community and connection around conservation issues is welcome. Participants include natural resources professionals, conservation leaders, students, environmental educators, and engaged citizens.

“The foundation has [cultivated] a diversity of messengers for Aldo Leopold’s words and ideas. As a result, the work is unifying and inclusive, regardless of your circumstances or geography.”
— 2015 participant

What are the Benefits?

By taking part in discussions about the big questions we all share in our quest to live our values, we’ll collectively explore the challenges and opportunities to developing and building an environmental ethic. Discussions are designed to help you come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of your own views as well as those that differ, a critical skill for engaging your community back home.

Attendees all have a chance to co-lead discussions. In planning and leading yours, you will build on listening and facilitation skills, which are crucial components to leadership of any kind.

group-reflection-hike-at-leopold-centerThe “Observe, Participate, Reflect” model provides a framework to help you think about your approach to any challenge in a new and open way. The program will recharge you by building clarity, commitment, and community around environmental values to help carry you forward in your work.

It also gives you a set of tools to help spark dialogue about the land ethic in your community, including our EMMY® award-winning Green Fire documentary about Aldo Leopold and much more.

Schedule and Meals

A detailed agenda will be sent to participants prior to the program, but the rough agenda for all Land Ethic Leaders programs is as follows:

Day one: 8:30 am to 6:30 pm. Includes lunch and optional group dinner at the end of the day.
Day two: 8 am to 5 pm. Includes breakfast and lunch.

Note: You must attend the full two-day training. Partial attendance (e.g., one day only) is not possible.


Travel and lodging are on your own. We have arrangements with a very affordable hotel in Baraboo, and there are also great camping options nearby.

NEW! A limited number of rooms are available in our new Future Leaders Center on a first-come, first-served basis. The Center is a shared housing and multi-function space for our fellows and special guests located next door to the Leopold Center. If you are interested in on-site lodging, please contact Lauren Graves.

Registration Fees

The cost for the two-day workshop is $200. This includes most of your meals and program materials, including a copy of the Green Fire film licensed for public screening (previously a $350 value).