Things Natural, Wild, and Free: The Life of Aldo Leopold

Marybeth Lorbiecki 



Adventure — as a child Aldo Leopold was always looking for it as he wandered over the bluffs along the Mississippi with his dog, Spud. This led Leopold to become a forester, wildlife scientist, author, and one of the most important conservationists in history. Award-winning author Marybeth Lorbiecki brings Leopold to life in this vivid new biography with historical photographs

Reader Activities

Your Neck of the Woods

Even before official game conservation laws were in place, Aldo's father Carl taught him the importance of responsible hunting practices. Hunters killed far more than they could use, even killing eagles and other sacred animals. In the hundred years prior to Aldo's birth, American Bison numbers plummeted from 60 million to barely above 500 due to hunting and killing bison for fun. 

Leopold and his team enforced the rules and regulations for where, when, and how many animals one could hunt. Do some research on the hunting regulations in your area. What do you think would happen if these rules were not abided by? Write a short essay on your findings and predictions. 

An issue of The Pine Cone newspaper lays out their guidelines for protecting and aiding wild game animals. 

Conservation in Forests vs. Cities

During his time with the United States Forest Service, Leopold noticed several species of animals were becoming more and more scarce. Back then, the biggest threats to wildlife were reckless hunting and predators. Today, we are their biggest threats. 

Create a venn diagram of animals that live in forests (left circle), cities (right circle), or both (in the middle, between both circles). Choose one animal in each category. Write a paragraph about each animal and why it can live where it does, focusing on its diet, interaction with humans, and any adaptations that make its environment a perfect fit.

Raccoons are a perfect example of an animal well-adapted to both the wild and urbanized areas. 

Raccoons are a perfect example of an animal well-adapted to both the wild and urbanized areas. 


People and the Land

On page 81, Aldo Leopold poses questions that guide his work: "How could people live on the land without spoiling it? And do we have a moral duty to care for it, and the wildlife living with us on the land? If so, what is it?" Take a walk around your neighborhood, what do you see - nature vs. people?  Write down all that you see and put them into two categories: (1) Nature and (2) People.  For example, trees and parks would go under "Nature" and houses and cars would go under "people".  Research what kind of native species were and are local to your community.  What are some small steps that you can do you care for your local wildlife?  Create an action plan or summary of what you can do to help! 

Supplemental Videos and Materials 

Britain has a network of National Nature Reserves, but what is their function and why should anybody care? Phil travels to an example in North Yorkshire - the Lower Derwent Valley - to find out. Warning: may contain traces of owls. --- If you like this episode, or any other, why not hit that subscribe button?
I made this video for the National History Day Competition. The theme was Innovation in History: Impact and Change. I focused on Aldo Leopold's effect on the conservation movement. I received 2nd honorable mention (4th Place) at the Wisconsin State Event. I also received the archival research award for my bibliography.