Leopold Education Project

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The Leopold Education Project (LEP) is an environmental education program based on the classic writings of the renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold. The LEP curriculum aligns with the essays in A Sand County Almanac as a springboard for observing the natural world, to instill a love and respect for the land and all that inhabit the land and to protect the earth's natural resources.

LEP has developed a proven curriculum (Lessons in a Land Ethic) that "fosters a positive relationship between our younger generations and the soil, water, plants and animals" - or what Leopold simply called - the land. His objective was to "teach the students to see the land, understand what he sees and enjoy what he understands".

The seed for LEP was planted in 1971 when Gary Laib, a conservation and biology teacher at Poynette High School in Wisconsin, integrated Leopold's A Sand County Almanac with his science classes. In 1980, he developed 100+ starter lessons to coincide with the essays from the ASCA. Seven years later, Laib was contacted by two conservation-conscious men from Woodstock, IL, who felt Leopold's writings would serve as an excellent tool for developing an improved land ethic.

In 1988, 10,000 copies of A Sand County Almanac were purchased and distributed to various organizations and individuals. The following year, LEP training workshops were conducted in Wisconsin. With support from the Leopold family, the workshop was made available for the 1990 Earth Day celebration.

To visit the National LEP Website please click here: Leopold Education Project

LEP Ramping up in Iowa

Efforts to grow the Leopold Education Project in Aldo Leopold’s home state of Iowa ramped up in several ways recently. First, in January, a new State Coordinator was named to spearhead the statewide effort. Chris Lee, of Burlington (not ironically, Leopold’s hometown), stepped up this winter as the new State Coordinator. Shortly before taking the volunteer position, Chris managed to secure a position as the Natural Resource Manager for Des Moines County Conservation after a three-year employment with none other than Pheasants Forever as a Farm Bill Biologist in Northeast Missouri.

“I’ve been involved in LEP since I started with PF,” said Lee. “To me, stepping up as State Coordinator once I got back home [to Iowa] made perfect sense.”

Not unexpectedly, Chris hit the ground running as State Coordinator. Within six weeks of taking the position, he helped host a Facilitator Training at the renowned Hole-N-The-Wall Lodge in Akron, Iowa. There, nine new facilitators were trained from across the state who then took their LEP curriculum back with them to deliver it to the conservationists of tomorrow. One teacher even had her students help plant a prairie this spring as a class project! With Pheasant Fest returning to Iowa this year, Chris is currently working with several of the facilitators to put together what he claims will be “the most impressive LEP display Pheasant Fest has ever seen!”

As any volunteer for any organization can attest, one of the hardest things to growing a program is raising funds and Chris understood that LEP in Iowa wouldn’t likely be an exception. So to get the ball rolling, he convinced his own Pheasants Forever chapter to offer a raffle prize for any other chapter that donated to Iowa LEP. The Aldo Leopold Chapter came through and offered a pair of Steiner Merlin 8x42 binoculars to accompany a complimentary copy of Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. Several chapters from throughout the state sent in donations and the drawing for the binoculars was held in August. The Ida County PF chapter came out victorious and will have the binoculars to use how they see fit at their banquet next spring. Hopefully they’ll be able to raise even more funds for LEP with them!

As LEP grows and expands, and as more and more chapters begin showing their support, watch for more LEP developments and initiatives from Iowa. To find out more about LEP in Iowa, contact Chris Lee at (319) 572-1564 or by email at [email protected].

Reaching More Youth – LEP in Iowa

Contact: Chris Lee, LEP State Coordinator, (319) 572-1564, [email protected]

“I like to play inside because that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” is an often-repeated quote from Richard Louv’s bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. The quote, made by a fourth-grader in San Diego is a common sentiment among youth of today. As outdoor enthusiasts, this is a troubling trend – one that we know we must strive to counteract if we want to see our conservation efforts live up to our organization’s surname-sake, “Forever.”

It’s likely that the majority of us have participated in (or at least sponsored) youth events in the past…and probably have more planned for the future. Youth hunts, outdoor days, scholarships, and all the other events our chapters undertake are all great events and undoubtedly have a lasting impact on many of the participants. But any one event can only reach so many students, and one event is just that – one event. It’s one opportunity to deliver a message that must compete with all the other messages and influences our youth are bombarded with everyday.

But what if, with a single event, we could deliver our message and teach conservation ethics to dozens, or even hundreds of youth and keep repeating that message throughout the year? We can; through Pheasants Forever’s Leopold Education Project (LEP).

The Leopold Education Project (LEP) is an innovative, interdisciplinary, critical thinking, conservation and environmental education curriculum based on the classic writings of the renowned conservationist, and Iowa native, Aldo Leopold. It teaches the public about humanity’s ties to the natural environment in the effort to conserve and protect the earth’s natural resources. LEP has the ability to reach more youth more often by “educating the educators” – the school teachers, naturalists, resource professionals, chapter leaders, and others that interact with youth on a near-daily basis throughout the year.

Here’s how it works: Educators attend a workshop that presents the extensive, multi-disciplinary LEP curriculum and features hands-on activities to train the educators on how to deliver the curriculum. It doesn’t matter what subject they teach, or even what their profession is, the LEP curriculum shows there is almost always a way to tie in outdoor education to their field of work. Once training is complete, which usually just takes one or two days, the educators then return home to deliver the curriculum to all the students they interact with in the course of a year. Those educators that want to take it a step further can go on to be trained as Facilitators, after which they can host their own educator workshops and teach more educators how to use the curriculum. More Facilitators lead to more Educators which lead to more students being reached which then become the land stewards of tomorrow…you get the idea.

Look at it this way, if one Educator Workshop trains 10 school teachers as LEP Educators, and each of those teachers had a class of 30 students in the next school year, that’s 300 students, which may compare to some of the bigger youth events throughout the state. But that’s 300 students that are receiving a conservation message almost daily throughout the school year, something a one-day event doesn’t do. Say those educators tied a conservation message to half of their course work in a normal 180-day school year, that’s 90 messages delivered to 300 students, meaning a conservation message was delivered 2,700 times in a single school year!

Iowa has always led the nation in quality education, so it should be no surprise that LEP is growing in momentum in this state. We have a new LEP State Coordinator, Chris Lee, from Aldo Leopold’s hometown of Burlington, Iowa. Already, one Facilitator workshop has been held where 10 Facilitators were trained from throughout the state and more events are in the works. In fact, one of those Facilitators recently had her students out planting a prairie as part of their course work! But, as you know, nothing is free. Workshops require facilities, materials, advertising…much the same as youth events do. So if Iowa is going to blaze the trail of conservation education the way it does in other education fields, its going to require support from the same folks that are so critical to conservation efforts in this state – the members and supporters of Pheasants and Quail Forever chapters. So make conservation education a priority for your chapter – consider donating as little as 1% of your annual banquet proceeds to Iowa LEP – and ensure that our conservation efforts continue for “Forever.” 100% of your donation will be used right here in Iowa to host LEP workshops and events. Ideally, workshops should be held soon to train educators before the school year gets into full swing so make this year’s donation soon. For more information, contact your Iowa LEP State Coordinator, Chris Lee, at (319) 572-1564; or by email at [email protected] .