April 22nd, 2021 - Dan Shilling

7:00-8:30 PM - “Aldo Leopold Listens to the Southwest”


Please join us as we welcome Dan Shilling - PHD, Author, Lecturer and Historian for his presentation, "Aldo Leopold Listens to the Southwest".


Forester Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) is considered one of the founding voices of environmental ethics, although the discipline did not exist when his book, A Sand County Almanac, was published posthumously in 1949. His collection of essays popularized the idea of a “land ethic,” and, like Henry David Thoreau, Leopold eventually became required reading across the curriculum: conservation, philosophy, history, literature.


At the time of his death, Leopold was teaching some of the first courses in ecology at the University of Wisconsin and conducting his own land experiments at the celebrated Shack. The teaching and research led to the “land ethic” - the concept that introduced a philosophical lens to the human-nature relationship.

In 1909, as a new ranger in the recently established Apache National Forest, Aldo Leopold shot a wolf in northeastern Arizona.


At the time, he sensed something was wrong, but it would take 35 years for him to express his unease and put forth a new ecological insight in “Thinking Like a Mountain,” one of the most famous essays in environmental literature.

Venue Change - Due to Covid-19 this will be a virtual Zoom presentation. Upon registration, you will be sent a link to the event as it gets closer to the date.

Site of the wolf shooting

Mexico 1938

Young Leopold as a Ranger in Arizona


What spurred him toward that monumental statement?


Rather than focus on Leopold’s Midwestern years, this presentation maintains that the seeds of Leopold’s revolutionary thought can be found in his years in Arizona and New Mexico (1909-1924). In particular, the talk explores how indigenous attitudes toward nature helped shape Leopold’s nearly 40-year intellectual journey.


Dan Shilling's captivating and enlightening presentation offers a razor sharp historical insight into Aldo Leopold the man and the things that shaped him, ultimately forming his environmental ethics.



Dan Shilling is a native Pennsylvanian where he taught high school. Dan moved to Arizona in 1980 and earned his PhD from Arizona State University. He joined the Arizona Humanities Council as a program officer in 1984, and was named executive director in 1989, a position he stepped down from in 2003.


At AHC he developed several award-winning projects on environmental history and community building. After leaving AHC, he directed a three-year, federally funded project on place-based tourism. That research earned Dan the Arizona Office of Tourism “Person of the Year Award” and resulted in the book, Civic Tourism: The Poetry and Politics of Place.


Since 2009 he has co-directed three NEH Summer Institutes on environmental ethics for university professors. Dan’s most recent publication, co-edited with Melissa Nelson, is Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Learning from Indigenous Methods for Environmental Sustainability (Cambridge 2018).


Dan has served on more than 50 boards and commissions; to acknowledge his service ASU presented him its most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Dan now lives in Phoenix.


The "Shack"

Nina Leopold Bradley (1917-2011), daughter of Aldo and Estella

with Dan Shilling


Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission

8 N. Elmhurst Road

Prospect Heights, IL. 60070

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