Arboretum paths: “Meet” Aldo Leopold this Saturday!

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017

By Pat Drackett, Director, The Crosby Arboretum
MSU Extension Service

A special program celebrating the life of Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) will be held at the Arboretum on Saturday, February 25. Conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, nature writer, and outdoor enthusiast, his book, A Sand County Almanac, is one of the most respected books about the environment ever published.
Leopold was born in Iowa and was a professor at the University of Wisconsin. He taught topics including biodiversity, ecology, and the science of wildlife management.
It is fitting that a program about the life of this avid outdoorsman is being held at the Crosby Arboretum, as it was established as a living memorial to a man who also held a deep respect for nature and the outdoors, L.O. Crosby, Jr. After Mr. Crosby died in 1978, his family envisioned the establishment a public garden that would contain every possible tree native to Mississippi, and provide opportunities for people to learn more about their environment.
Many regard Aldo Leopold as the most influential conservation thinker of the twentieth century. But because there are so many choices of books available on the topics of ecology and biodiversity, A Sand County Almanac is most likely not on our radar screens as firmly now as it was in the 1970’s, when it reached a height of popularity.
Leopold’s writing is considered as impactful, insightful, and inspirational to this past century as that of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote Walden, first published in 1854 and inspired by his two year stay at Walden Pond on land near Concord, Massachusetts belonging to his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Two programs will be offered this Saturday, led by MSU Extension Forestry Specialist Dr. Glenn Hughes and Coastal Ecology Specialist Dr. Eric Sparks. Dr. Hughes gave a recent well-attended winter botany walk, and Dr. Sparks coordinates the Mississippi Master Naturalist program.
Dr. Hughes has visited The Leopold Center in Wisconsin, and has seen Aldo Leopold’s famous “shack”, a National Historic Landmark. The shack is a rebuilt chicken coop near the Wisconsin River where the Leopold family stayed on weekends. Today it functions as a living classroom. The shack is surrounded by the land that inspired A Sand County Almanac.
From the people who visit the Arboretum, and particularly from those living in Pearl River County, I hear many stories illustrating their deep connections to their land and respect for its values, a similar “land ethic” to that expressed by Aldo Leopold.
The MSU Extension Service has many publications to guide landowners in the wise management of their property, available on the Extension website (
I remember being surprised to learn that of the 19 million acres (66 percent of the state’s total acreage) of forestland in Mississippi, about two-thirds are privately owned. One informative publication is “Managing the Family Forest in Mississippi” (Publication 2470).
The publication is a collaboration of the U.S. Forest Service, Mississippi Forestry Commission, the MSU Extension Service, and the Departments of Forestry and Plant Pathology and Entomology at Mississippi State University. You may download the publication on the Extension website or ask for one at the Arboretum, as we currently have copies.
The publication’s website description states “…forest management not only means management for timber production, but also includes aesthetic values, wildlife protection, water quality, and the pure enjoyment of owning timberland. It is important that you manage your land for those values that are most important to you.”
Join us on Saturday, February 25, to celebrate Aldo Leopold! From 9:30 a.m. to Noon, readings will take place from the Sand County Almanac. Weather permitting, outdoor activities may be held. A second program from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. will feature the documentary film, “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time” and selected readings. The program will include a “special guest.”
For each program, the fee is $5 for non-members. Call the Arboretum office at 601-799-2311 to reserve your seat. For more information on the site, see Our spring program calendar is in progress and will be posted shortly.
The Arboretum is located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road and is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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