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Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeA young Aldo Leopold poses proudly with his bamboo fishing pole, stringer of fish and a dog.

Young Aldo Leopold

A young Aldo Leopold poses proudly with his bamboo fishing pole, stringer of fish and a dog. The family was on vacation in the Cheneaux Islands, near Mackinac. View the original source document: WHI 93910

Note: This is a grade-level appropriate biographical essay about a significant figure from Wisconsin's past.

Have you ever wondered about the world you live in? Why are there so many rabbits? What happens when a stream gets polluted? Where do birds go when they fly south? Aldo Leopold was curious about the world. He set out to take care of it and to teach others how to as well.

Aldo Leopold was born on January 11, 1887. He grew up near the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa. Aldo loved to spend his time outdoors hunting and fishing.

Aldo went to college to study forestry. After he graduated, Aldo joined the US Forest Service. He worked in national forests in the southwestern United States. His job was to help manage wildlife populations.

EnlargeAldo Leopold Shack

Aldo Leopold Shack, 1935

Fairfield, Wisconsin. The Aldo Leopold Shack was listed on the National Register in 1978. Source: WHS - Historic Preservation - Public History. View the property record: AHI 16662

Aldo discovered something important about nature. Many scientists thought that if you killed predators increase the number of animals. Aldo disagreed. He believed the process was more complex. He thought that predators such as wolves make herds of deer stronger. They do this by eating weak and sick animals. The animals that survive are stronger. Wildlife biologists now agree with him.

Aldo and his family moved to Madison in the early 1920s. He became a professor at UW-Madison.

Aldo's family had a cabin in Baraboo. They called it the Shack. He took careful notes about the plants and animals he saw there. He also observed how people affected the environment.

In 1949, his most famous book, A Sand County Almanac, was published. Aldo wrote that people needed moral rules telling them how to treat the environment.

EnlargeA young Aldo Leopold poses smiling wearing a jacket and bow tie while seated on a pier.

Aldo Leopold

A young Aldo Leopold poses smiling wearing a jacket and bow tie while seated on a pier. He is vacationing in the Cheneaux Islands. View the original source document: WHI 93913

This land ethic would help preserve nature for future generations.

Aldo Leopold died in 1948, just before his book was published. His ideas changed the way people looked at the world around them.