Students studying outside the library

Student-built shack provides hands-on environmental outreach

Aldo Leopold Shack dedicated at Goodall Environmental Studies Center

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The Aldo Leopold Shack, constructed as a senior Capstone and independent Interim project by three environmental studies majors — Rob Richardson and Rob Kennedy of Spartanburg and Steven Bearden of Summit, N.J. -- will be used primarily for educational and community outreach purposes.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College recently (Wednesday, Feb. 20) dedicated its new Aldo Leopold Shack at the Goodall Environmental Studies Center Garden in Glendale, S.C.

Dr. Drew Lanham, a doctor of ornithology and professor of Department Forestry and Natural Resources at Clemson University, will be the guest speaker at the dedication ceremony. Following the reception, the film “Green Fire” will be shown. The film explores the life and legacy of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold and the many ways his land ethic philosophy lives on in the work of people and organizations all over the country today. 

The Aldo Leopold Shack was constructed as a senior Capstone and independent Interim project by three environmental studies majors — Rob Richardson and Rob Kennedy of Spartanburg and Steven Bearden of Summit, N.J. -- under the guidance of John Lane, professor of English and environmental studies and director of the Goodall Center.

“We saw (the shack) as an opportunity to leave a mark on the college and environmental studies department that had given us so much over our four years here,” Kennedy says.

The building was constructed primarily for educational and community outreach purposes. Regular visitors to Glendale Shoals include the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Spartanburg, Clifdale Elementary School, and other schools in Spartanburg County School 3. Haley Briel, outreach coordinator for the Goodall Center, is hopeful that the new structure will provide additional opportunities for hands-on environmental learning and attract more local students. The shack will house shelves and displays for plants, maps, animal bones, and other items that will aid in interactive learning. 

The shack is named for “the father of conservation” Aldo Leopold, most noted for writing the book “A Sand County Almanac” and his work in the field of wildlife management and the development of modern wildlife ethics. In 1935, Leopold bought a run-down farm on the Wisconsin River and fixed up a dilapidated chicken coop, which would come to be living close to the land.

Richardson, Bearden and Kennedy spent five or more hours a day, hammer in hand, to stay on schedule despite weather delays. Much like the shack Leopold built himself, the students used as many recycled materials as permits would allow and they could access. The greatest tribute to Leopold’s vision is the exterior wood, taken from chicken coops at the home of one of the students.

“This project has been upwards of two years in the making, and to see the shack completed and look as good as it does is very gratifying,” says Richardson.

Even before the construction began, the students faced the challenge of attaining the proper building permits from the county, researching the floodplains of the shoals, and choosing the appropriate design for the outreach structure.

In the end, Kennedy is most proud of the camaraderie the best friends and roommates developed throughout the building process. “Through all the hours we have put into this over the last year, and especially the past month, there were certainly trying times and stressful moments,” he says. “Now we are all able to sit back, smile, and congratulate each other on finishing up strong with a result we are all proud of.”

Bearden adds, “I am proud to leave Wofford better than when I came in.”