Friends of Goose Pond Virtual Classroom

Sponsored by Duke Energy

Our organization, the Friends of Goose Pond (FoGP), supports wildlife conservation and habitat restoration at the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, Indiana. We have sponsored scientific research at GPFWA and have offered recreational activities and programs for our members. We believe that one of the primary ways in which we can accomplish our support mission is by providing environmental education to the public, including both children and adults.

A key to developing ecofriendly literacy among those who come to the 9,098 acre Goose Pond FWA property is the nurturing of a land ethic among these visitors. And just what is a land ethic? It is simply the notion that our understanding of what constitutes a community should be enlarged to include the soils, waters, plants, and animals which surround us. These physical and biological entities, along with us, constitute what renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold referred to collectively as – the land. Leopold not only made us think in a new way about the term land, he also suggested a deeper connection between humans and their environment when he said: “That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.”

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) was a forester, philosopher, conservationist, educator, writer, and keen observer of the natural world. Leopold set forth his land ethic philosophy in a series of essays to be found in his, A Sand County Almanac. This small but powerful work is considered one of the most respected conservation books of all time. We at FoGP share Leopold’s view that developing a land ethic among our country’s citizenry is of great importance. As long as humans consider themselves as somehow apart from, and independent of, the natural world and its soils, waters, flora, and fauna there is little hope of conserving what remains of our precious natural world. Therefore, our Virtual Classroom seeks to promote Leopold’s Land Ethic.  At a 1968 meeting of the IUCN, Senegalese forester Baba Bioum had this to say: “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”

It is in this spirit that Friends of Goose Pond offers the Duke Energy Virtual Classroom. By providing classroom/field activities for teachers, students, and other interested individuals we hope to environmentally inform those who visit Goose Pond FWA. As their understanding of the ecology of this amazing property grows, we hope that the beginnings of a love and respect for wetlands, prairies, and forests will be fostered. In the end, this is what a land ethic is all about.

(For more about Aldo Leopold and his legacy visit: and

A Note to Teachers

Having access to at least one copy of A Sand County Almanac And Sketches Here and There is indispensable to the lessons. It is important to familiarize yourself with the essays used and the ecological messages they convey. Strategies for class use of Leopold’s book may include: having a single copy and reading an essay to the class yourself (followed by discussion for clarification), having one copy of the book per two students for individual reading, or having a copy of the book for each student. The book may be purchased for a nominal price at several online sites e.g. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Abe Books.

For an overview of A Sand County Almanac and its significance go to: Sand_County_Almanac

Lesson Contents

Lesson 1   Nutrient Recycling Within Ecosystems & the Leopold Essay: Odyssey >

Lesson 2   The Importance of Wetlands to Migratory Birds & The Leopold Essay: Back from the Argentine. >

Lesson 3   Conserving Wetlands and Their Sandhill Cranes & The Leopold Essay: Marshland Elegy. >

Lesson 4   Lessons in Biodiversity: The Writings of Aldo Leopold & The Leopold Essay: Thinking Like a Mountain. >

Many thanks to Amanda Figolah (Bloomington South H.S.) for her help in editing and assembling these lessons. –  George Sly

Links to Leopold Related Materials and Wetland and Prairie Lessons

The Aldo Leopold Foundation

About A Sand County Almanac and sketches here and there

 The Leopold Education Project

Wetlands Live: A Distance Learning Adventure. Prince William County VA Public Schools

Ducks Unlimited Green Wing Activities

Indiana Project WET (Water Education for Teachers)

Shorebird Resources for Educators

Illinois Natural History Survey: Prairie Research Institute

Discovery Education: The American Prairie

Birding and Studying Birds Lesson Plans – Klamath Bird Observatory

The Biology Corner: Ecology Lesson Plans