The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Presentations highlight Leopold banquet

Amongst Aldo Leopold’s many achievements, the 1949 publication of his book, A Sand County Almanac, may be his greatest.

Or it could be that he developed the first comprehensive management plan for the Grand Canyon in 1924, or possibly the announcement that Leopold would be named UW-Madison’s first ever professor of wildlife management in 1933.

Throughout the course of his life, Leopold was a scientist, ecologist, conservationist, professor and author. His excursions in Wisconsin included buying 80 acres of barren land while putting his conservationist theories to work in the field. The home he lived in is now recognized as an official landmark in the city of Madison.

UW-Eau Claire has recognized Leopold for the last few years and held their seventh annual Aldo Leopold Banquet Feb. 28 at the Eau Claire Rod and Gun club.

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Assistant Director of Programs for the Environmental Adventure Center Dan Langlois said the banquet is an event to recognize Leopold’s work and promote conservatism and land ethic to the next generation.

“Its a sort of a passing of the torch,” Langlois said. “Whenever you can expose students to Leopold and professors that know the land ethic is valuable when you go out into your profession.”

Throughout his lifetime, Leopold was known for his involvement of the outdoors. Senior history education major Joe Rupslauskas is one of those students who also appreciates the outdoors and presented his research of “Trigger Itch: Aldo Leopold and the Evolution of a Sportsman Ethic” at the banquet.

Rupslauskas said he thinks in the area of being an outdoorsman and conservatism, we can learn a great deal with Leopold’s findings, as well as learn from how he overcame his difficulties throughout his life.

“He learned from past experiences and then he was able to become someone who was able to make a serious impact,” he said. “There is an idea that each of us can look around in our lives and see various ways that we can get active in this and make a difference like he did.”

He also said his presentation focused on advancement with Leopold’s ideals that were generally received favorably.

“I talked more about this idea of change and evolution over time,” Rupslauskas said. “Given the state of politics in this state in regards to the sand frac mining. Those are big issues right now we could be more informed about.”

The banquet also featured other researched works by Eau Claire English professor Debra Barker and Concerned Chippewa Citizens representative Patricia Popple, along with a presentation by Kenny Salwey.

Salwey is known as “The Last River Rat.” He has written two published books and starred in the Emmy-award-winning film, “Mississippi: Tales of the Last River Rat.”

Semi-illiterate, Salwey said he has read all of Leopold’s works with the help of a Miriam-Webster dictionary, and has taken to heart what are in the depths of his writing.

He said he spoke from the heart when he talked about certain topics that Leopold was a pioneer for at the banquet.

“What I talked about at the banquet was the land,” Salwey said. “The land, Aldo Leopold once said, does not belong to us. We belong to the land. We cannot own the snowflakes, the rays of sun, the raindrops, the moonbeams that come down on it or the wind that blows across it.”

He said he has been living in shacks and near-poverty for as long as he can remember and now lives six miles north of Alma, Wis. near the river.

In regards to the ideal of land ethics presented throughout the banquet amongst other presentations, Salwey’s approach may be simpler, but he said that he has lived this life on the land, being a part of it, and feels he knows much.

The goal of the banquet was to discuss the “passing of the torch” to the next generation and Salwey said he thinks he has done just that.

“I have lived the circle of life on the land,” Salwey said. “When we purchase the land, we purchase a privilege. We become stewards of the land and then we turn it over to somebody else, hopefully in better shape than what we found it.”

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Presentations highlight Leopold banquet