Born in 1887, Aldo Leopold was a pioneer in the social movement that worked to address various environmental issues over time. From a young age, he had a fascination with the natural world, spending his time sketching and documenting his world. After just two years in the U.S. Forest Service, Leopold became the supervisor for the Carson National Forest in New Mexico; he used this position to successfully rally for Gila National Forest to be designated an official wilderness area.
Over the next ten years, Leopold worked in Madison, Wisconsin, using his time to study ecology and, ultimately, to publish a primer on wildlife management called Game Management, the first book of its kind. Throughout his adult life, he and his family would engage in conservationist practices on their own lands, documenting their experiences and chronicling the ecological changes that fascinated Leopold. He assembled these observations into another manuscript, entitled A Sand County Almanac; he would never see it published and read by more than 2 million people, as he died just a week after learning the text would be published at all.
Today, Leopold’s teachings can be found in all corners of the environmentalist movement. His concept of the “land ethic” took the core principles of our society – the responsibility to care for one’s own property, the need for the resources in the natural world to continue to exist, and the respect for others – and applied them to the natural world. Individuals, he argued, should not just espouse the sanctity of the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” but should actively work to protect said land. Today, the Aldo Leopold Foundation ensures his work and his teachings are not lost to the generations; the goal of “awakening an ecological conscience” in people the world over is one they, and countless adherents to Leopold’s teachings, strive for each and every day.