Biology- semester I valley City High School a sand County Almanac

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2015-16 Biology– Semester I – Valley City High School

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Discussion Questions
Overview: In 1935, pioneering wildlife manager Aldo Leopold purchased a worn-out farm on the Wisconsin River outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin. The farm and its renovated chicken coop served him and his family as a refuge from “too much modernity” as well as a laboratory for some of the earliest efforts at land restoration. The Leopold family spent numerous weekends at “the Shack,” hunting, planting pines, and exploring the land. Leopold came to Wisconsin after years with the Forest Service in the Southwest, where he began as a forester and later advocated for wildlife management and wilderness designation. The nation’s first designated wilderness, the Gila, was a result of his efforts. After his time with the Forest Service, he published the first textbook in wildlife management, and became chair of game management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison – the first for the institution and the nation. A Sand County Almanac was his signature work: Leopold weaved together many observations and insights gathered during a life lived close to the land. He learned the book would be published just a week before his death from a heart attack in 1948. Since its publication in 1949, A Sand County Almanac has sold over two million copies and has been translated into nine different languages.
Purpose of study guide: The study guide follows the sequence of the book. Completing this study guide will help you to better participate in class discussions. This study guide will also stress important points in the book that are asked about on the AR exam.
Instructions: Answer the following questions as you read. Define the “Vocabulary of Note” listed for various sections. Use separate sheets of paper, number your responses, and skip a line between responses. Turn in on or prior to 4:00 PM, January 4, 2017. (46 points) There are no bonus points associated with this project.
2016-17 Due Dates: The AR exam will be in conjunction with your Semester 1 exam. The AR test will be on or after January 4, 2017. (Exact date to be determined) The AR exam will consist of 18 questions each worth 3 points. (54 points) You will receive page credit from your English teacher if you pass (65%) the AR test. Your score will count toward this 2nd quarter project along with the completion of your study guide.


  1. Is the ability to see geese more important to you than television?

  1. Are you one who can live without wild things or one who cannot?

  1. Leopold talks about the need to “get the company back in step.” Who is the company?

  1. What does Leopold refer to when he talks about “community” in the essay? (When answering, think about who is part of your community? Your family, friends, neighbors? Does community include the trees in your yard or the birds at your feeder? How about the soil in your garden?)

January: pages 3-5
January Thaw

  1. Deduce

  2. mundane

  3. microtine

  4. amorous

  5. corpulent

  1. Discuss the difference in the “freedom from want and fear” felt by the different creatures encountered on the walk.

February: page 6-19
Good Oak

  1. andirons

  2. emigrant

  3. ardently

  4. cord of wood

  5. bastioned

  1. Leopold worries people no longer truly know where heat or food comes from. Think about what you had for breakfast. Where it actually came from?

  1. If you have you ever been to a farm, describe your experience.

  1. Do you heat your home with coal, natural gas, wood, corn, or electricity?

  1. How is the electricity for your home generated?

  1. Is it important to you to know where your food and heat come from? Why or why not?

  1. This essay not only connects the natural and cultural aspects of our land, it also describes one of the Leopold family’s physical activities, making wood. Have you ever cut, split, hauled firewood? Write about your experience including what tools you used.

March: Pages 19-25
The Geese Return

  1. oxbow

  2. surreptitious

  1. Provide an example where Leopold give human emotions/characteristics (anthropomorphize) to geese.

  1. Describe if you feel there anything potentially wrong with anthropomorphism?

April: Pages 25-36

  1. Salient

Come High Water

  1. Describe the reference of “boards” as books. What is Leopold saying?


  1. What is Draba?

Bur Oak

  1. According to Leopold, what is significant about a Bur Oak? Why?

  1. What did settlers do to the prairie that concerned the oak?

Sky Dance

  1. What is Leopold saying when he writes “The liver on the land, but not by the land.”

  1. Observing the woodcock dance caused the naturalist to alter his behavior. Describe the woodcock dance.

May: Pages 37-39
Back from the Argentine

  1. The upland plover is now called the upland sandpiper. What caused a reduction in numbers of the Upland Plover in early 1900’s?

  1. What are the “black and white buffalo” of Wisconsin?

June: Pages 40-43

  1. Whitethroats

  2. ignominious

The Alder Fork – A Fishing Idyl

  1. This is simply a great story about fishing a trout stream. Where do you think it is located?

Consider the following passage:

    1. How like fish we are: ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new thing some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook. Even so, I think there is some virtue in eagerness, whether its object prove true or false. How utterly dull would be a wholly prudent man, or trout, or world!

  1. Why do you or why don’t you agree?

July: Pages 44-54

  1. sovereignty

Great Possessions

  1. One acre equals how many square feet? (not found in the book)

  1. What is the size of a football field, including end zones, in a) square feet and b) acres?

  1. How large is Leopold’s farm?

  1. How big is your main yard in acres? Find out and record! Describe how you made measurements and calculated this area.

  1. In your opinion, what are humans’ great possessions?

Prairie Birthday

  1. What is in the country graveyard?

  1. What is a “right-of-way”?

  1. What is significant about railroad right-of-ways?

  1. We grieve only for what we know.” What is the ‘big picture’ Leopold is referring to?

August: Pages 54-56

  1. evanescent

  2. verdant

The Green Pasture

  1. Describe the “Green Pasture”.

September: Pages 56-58

  1. Copse

  2. contralto

  1. things hoped for have a higher value than things assured” What does Leopold mean? You may want to share a story in your life where you found this to be true.

The Choral Copse

  1. What kind of birds are quail? Describe them to the best of your ability.

  1. Do we have quail in North Dakota?

  1. What kind of quail might Leopold heard in Wisconsin?

October: Pages 58-70

  1. ‘look him up presently’

  2. anserine

  3. solarium

  4. premonitory

Smoky Gold

  1. What is a tamarack?

  1. Do we have them around Valley City or anywhere in North Dakota?

  1. Where is the closest place you could find some in good numbers?

  1. What is ‘bat-like’ flight?

  1. Who does Leopold describe as having a bat-like flight?

Too Early

  1. Ask Mr. Nielson (or research) what Orion is and what “the Zenith” is.

  1. What does Leopold mean in saying “It is time when Orion has passed west of the zenith about as far as one should lead a teal”?

Red Lanterns

  1. What are the “Red Lanterns”?

November: Pages 70-82

  1. ex post facto

  2. offing

  3. surcease

  4. transmuted

If I Were the Wind

  1. Leopold writes “When the flock is a blur in the far sky I hear the last honk, sounding taps for the summer.” What does Leopold mean in writing “sounding taps for the summer”?

Axe in Hand

  1. Leopold states that pines are his favorite trees. What is your favorite kind of tree? Why?

  1. How would you define a conservationist?

  1. Have you ever experienced either a preference or resentment toward a particular plant or animal? Explain.

A Mighty Fortress

  1. Leopold writes of tree disease in his woodlot and the ecology of dead trees. Explain the value, ecologically, of tree disease.

  1. What might a bird find in the bark of a tree?

December: Pages 83-98

  1. platitudinous

  2. congenial

  3. tyro

  4. valor

  5. delectation

  6. valor

Home Range

  1. Every farm is a textbook on animal ecology; woodsmanship is the translation of the book.” How acquainted do you feel you are with the world – your home range – in which you live? Describe your home range.

Pines Above the Snow

  1. What is “the candle”?

  1. What three species of pines are native to Wisconsin?

  1. When someone writes “native to”, what does that mean?

  1. Do we have pines in Valley City? If so, what kind(s)?


  1. What is the history of the phrase “Keep Calm”? How does it coincide with the writing of this book?

  1. Do we have chickadees here in Valley City? If so, when are they here?

  1. How long did 65290 live with his band?


  1. Elegy

  2. echelon

  3. clangor

  4. gamut

  5. gambol

  6. usufruct

  7. fastnesses

  8. inexorably

  9. propitiated

  10. freshet

  11. itinerant

  12. nostalgia

  13. diminution

  14. gratis

  15. motif

Marshland Elegy pages 101-108. Key Concept: “Impacts” – Leopold’s sobering message asks us to consider how we can protect and cherish something at the same time. He warns that beyond the impacts we make when we degrade land in multiple ways, the act of admiring nature can have impacts of its own.

  1. Leopold uses very evocative and descriptive language like “silence” giving way to “pandemonium” of “trumpets, rattles, croaks, and cries” to describe a new day on the crane marsh. Have you ever seen or heard cranes?

  1. Can you tell the difference between cranes, geese, herons, and swans?

  1. What do you thing about the process of appreciating nature being compared to appreciating art?

  1. Do you agree that if you know more about something it becomes even more beautiful?

  1. What good is an undrained marsh anyhow?” Well? Tell me what “good” is a natural, undrained marsh?

  1. But all conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.” What I think Leopold is saying is that if wilderness is open to visitors, then by definition, it is not wilderness. Should some places be off limits to humans in order to protect the “wilderness”?

  1. Leopold says that humans are only fellow-voyagers with other creatures in the odyssey of evolution; yet he also says we are the only species that can mourn the death of another species. What are your thoughts about the “specialness” of humans in relation to other creatures?

  1. What is the value to you of wildness? In your view, should land be left alone merely for the sake of wildness? Should humans be excluded?

The Sand Counties pages 108-111

  1. How would you summarize the reasons Leopold give for why farmers did not want to leave the Sand Counties in the 1930’s and 40’s?

  1. Describe the Sand Counties in your own words.

Odyssey pages 111-115

  1. Describe what story is being told here about X?

  1. What is significant about “dying higher than one feeds”?

On a Monument to the Pigeon pages 116-119

  1. Describe your feelings about Passenger Pigeons and their extinction?

  1. Do you feel that man is justified in eliminating one or more species for the benefit of our own?

Flambeau pages 119-124

  1. Have you ever canoed? If so, describe when, where, and how many times.

  1. Have you ever been on a wilderness trip? If so, what do you remember?

Deadening pages 124

  1. Complete the sentence: Girdling the _____ _____ to squeeze one last crop out of the barnyard has the same finality as _____ the _____ to keep _____.

Illinois and Iowa:

  1. parvenu

  2. puccoons

  3. gilt

  4. husbandry

  5. opulent

Illinois Bus Ride pages 124-127

  1. Summarize Leopold’s feelings on this bus ride through Illinois.

Red Legs Kicking pages 127-129

  1. Explain what you think Leopold means in his opening line “When I call to mind my earliest impressions, I wonder whether the process ordinarily referred to as growing up is not actually a process of growing down; whether experience, so much touted among adults as the thing children lack, is not actually a progressive dilution of the essentials by the trivialities of living.”

  1. Whose red legs are kicking? Describe the event in your own words.

Arizona and New Mexico:

  1. aristocracy

  2. buckboard

  3. vernacular

  4. tacit

  5. crenulated

  6. saucy

  7. emissaries

  8. acquiesced

On Top pages 130-137

  1. Describe your experience with lightning. Are you afraid of lightning?

  1. What does Leopold say about people who say they are not afraid of lightning?

Thinking Like a Mountain pages 137-141 Key Concept: Humility - Leopold’s own misdeeds lead him to be very concerned about the impacts of those with good intentions, but incomplete information. According to Leopold, blind pursuit of “success” or as he describes it “paradise” needs to be viewed cautiously.

  1. Leopold describes the power of seeing what die in the wolf’s eye?

  1. At the end of the essay Leopold seems to be asking if “safety,” will ultimately result in danger. Leopold says that “wildness” is a type of reminder that people cannot or perhaps even should not try to control everything. Describe your feelings on this topic?

  1. Should we allow wolves to increase in number in North Dakota? Why or why not?

Escudilla pages 141-145

  1. What animal is at the focus of Escudilla?

  1. What are your thoughts on having apex or keystone predators living closely with us?

  1. How do you respond to Leopold’s statement, “Too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run”?

Chihuahua and Sonora

  1. numenon

  2. espies

  3. contradistinction

  4. sinister

  5. anthracite

  6. despot

  7. The Pleiades

  8. debouching

  9. mast (as in crop of mast)

Guacamaja pages 146-149

  1. Describe what a Thick-billed Parrot looks like.

  1. In the life of the Thick-billed Parrot, what is the purpose of the woodpecker holes in tall pines?

The Green Lagoons pages 150-158

  1. Have you ever cooked with Mesquite? Describe.

  1. Who is the despot of the Delta?

  1. How did Leopold and his brother test the quality of a new well?

Song of the Gavilan pages 158-163

  1. What is the Rio Gavilan?

  1. What is the job of “professors” according to Leopold?

  1. What is research?

  1. What are “universities”?

  1. Can you recall a vivid experience in the wilderness? Does that wilderness still exist or has it been altered?

  1. In your view, what are the values of wilderness?

Oregon and Utah

  1. innocuous

  2. afflictions

  3. virtue

  4. “Tilting Windmills”

Cheat Takes Over pages 164-168

  1. List 5 Ecological stowaways.

  1. What is “Cheat”? What is the scientific name of Cheat?

  1. Leopold write “as inflammable as cotton wool”. What writing technique is he using here? Is “cotton wool” inflammable? What does he really mean?


  1. Antediluvian

  2. evanescence

  3. rendition

  4. derisive

Clandeboye pages 168-173

  1. Where is Clandeboye Marsh located? (you might have to do some research outside the book, but you might get close with clues from the reading)

  1. This essay is an important essay for North Dakotans. Many of our wetlands have been drained over the past 150 years. Why do you think people drain wetlands in North Dakota? How might draining wetlands contribute to flooding?

  1. What animal is highlighted in this essay (Clandeboye)?

Country pages 177-180

  1. exigencies

  2. opulence

  3. austerity

  4. ecclesiastical

  1. Leopold writes “You are seized with an impulse to land, to set food on bearberry carpets, to pluck a balsam bed, to pilfer beach plums or blueberries, or perhaps to poach a partridge from out those bosky quietudes that lie behind the dunes.” What poetic or literary device is being used here?

  1. Many might not consider parts of North Dakota “country” by Leopold’s definition. Explain how define “country” and how you might view or not view North Dakota as “country”.

A Man’s Leisure Time pages 181-188

  1. fallacy

  2. antithesis

  3. annex

  4. subservience

  1. “To prescribe a hobby would be dangerously akin to ________________ __ ______.” What does Leopold mean here?

  1. According to Leopold, what is the most glamorous hobby?

  1. ________________________ is the highest evolutionary attainment of social animals, and will grow no faster than other new functions.”

The Round River pages 188-202

  1. desiccated

  2. appellation

  3. proscribe

  4. flapper

  5. tenacity

  6. abetted

  7. tacit

  8. assuagement

  9. prodigious

  10. aesthetic

  11. stigma

  1. In ecology, we learn about many cycles: Water, carbon, and nitrogen. Explain the biotic continuum in terms of “a stream”.

  1. How do the words ‘knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’ differ?

  1. You cannot love game and hate _______________. You cannot conserve the waters and waste the _________; you cannot build the forest and mine the _______.”

  1. The last work in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘____ ____ __ ___”

  1. Where is the best Oak in the world found for cabinet making?

  1. American conservation is, I fear, still concerned for the most part with _______ _______.” Cite some examples of what Leopold is referring to.

FYI: Forest and Stream magazine existed from 1873-1930. In 1930 it merged with Field and Stream.

Natural History pages 202-210

  1. aboriginal

  2. quixotic

  3. subjugate

  4. fruition

  1. What was the industrial chemist’s passion?

  1. What was the expertise of the Ohio housewife?

  1. Leopold calls ecology the science of _________________.

Wildlife in American Culture pages 211-222

  1. “ontogeny repeats phylogeny”

  2. fancy

  3. abstractions

  4. atavistic

  5. first water

  6. flivver

  7. one-gallus

  8. husbandry

  9. discern

  1. According to Leopold, what are the values of “sportsmanship”?

  1. In regard to shooting a deer and leaving it lay in hopes of finding a larger deer or a legal deer, Leopold writes “Such deer hunting is not only without social value, but constitutes actual training for ethical depravity elsewhere.” What is Leopold saying?

  1. Leopold’s current model for duck hunting is spun as not being really fair to the ducks. Do you think we should or allow a “if it feels right, do it” mentality?

FYI: FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals. I wonder what “improper” means? Who sets that bar? (no need to answer unless you feel like chiming in!)

  1. Describe the ‘where-to-go’ service. is an example of this in use today. Is finding out where the fish are biting really fair to the fish? Provide your thoughts on whether or not these people who sell or give out information provide a ‘legitimate practice’ when it comes to hunting and fishing with fair chase as described above?

The Deer Swath pages 223-225

  1. accoutrement

  1. What was “The Deer Swath”?

  1. List the four categories of outdoors men.

  1. List the habits of the four groups you listed above.

  1. What does “reading sign” mean?

Goose Music pages 226-233

  1. blithely

  2. dividend

  3. impious

  1. What two sports are the oldest and most universal of all sports?


The Land Ethic pg. 237

  1. ethic

  2. propriety

  3. prow

  4. chattels

  5. ex cathedra

  6. pieties

  7. oratory

  8. assents

  9. accretions

  10. augment

  11. derange

  12. modus vivendi

  13. key log

  14. predilection

The Ethical Sequence pg. 238

  1. What are “ethics”?

  1. What is the Mosaic Decalogue?

The Community Concept pg. 239

  1. What do the boundaries of the Community include?

  1. Plant Succession steered the course of history” What does Leopold mean?

The Ecological Conscience pg. 243

  1. Define Conscience.

  1. According to Leopold in this essay, what is conservation?

  1. What typically governs land use ethics?

Substitutes for a Land Ethic pg. 246

  1. According to Leopold, what is the “answer” to government conservation?

The Land Pyramid pg. 251

  1. Do you agree with the following? Why or why not? “We can be ethical only in a relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.”

  1. Draw a “land pyramid” as Leopold describes it in this essay.

  1. According to Leopold, with what creatures does man share a “layer” of the pyramid?

  1. According to Leopold, what is the trend of evolution?

  1. Define fertility according to Leopold.

  1. List three basic ideas of Land as an energy circuit.

Land Health and the A-B Cleavage pg. 258

  1. Define “Cleavage”

  1. What is Leopold talking about here?

The Outlook pg. 261 Key Concept: Ethics. Ethics provide context for our individual actions relative to larger social values. Leopold understood that ultimately the health of land, and in turn human health, would be determined by people’s values. The section ends with Leopold’s challenge to individuals and communities to join in the “intellectual and emotional” evolution of a land ethic. Leopold suggests that a land ethic can never really be written; rather it evolves over time through society’s thinking and actions.

  1. The Outlook closes with an analogy of “remodeling the Alhambra with a steam shovel” and proposes the problem is one of “attitudes and implements.” If you do not know, do some research and find out more about the Alhambra, such as what is it and where is it?

  1. Leopold wrote, “The art of land doctoring is being practiced with vigor, but the science of land health is yet to be born.” (Wilderness) Can you think of examples of doctoring? How would fostering land health be different?

Wilderness pg. 264

  1. amelioration

  2. repose

  3. insidious

  4. gamut

  5. illimitable

  6. prate

The Remnants pg. 265

  1. Where are there still large expanses of virgin country? (in the 1940’s)

  1. Where are the wilderness areas today? For example, are there places “Where nameless men by nameless rivers wander and in strange valleys die strange deaths alone”?

Wilderness for Recreation pg. 269

  1. What are the two distinctly American wilderness recreation skills?

Wilderness for Science pg. 272

  1. What does quality tobacco growing soil depend on?

  1. Why is prairie flora more drought resistant than agronomic flora?

  1. Why is it important to have a “norm” wild area?

Wilderness for Wildlife pg. 276

  1. At the writing of this book, how many grizzlies are there in lands owned by the United States?

Defenders of Wilderness pg. 278

  1. The ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down, according to Leopold, to what? Explain.

Conservation Esthetic pg. 280

  1. hinterlands

  2. motivity

  3. disdain

  4. necromancy

  5. raison d’être

  6. connotations

  7. stags

  8. heath

  9. indemnities

  10. innocuous

  11. gregarious

  1. What does the Wilderness Society seek to keep from wilderness areas (aka The Hinterlands)? How about your local chamber of commerce?

  1. List the five components of Outdoor Recreation.

  1. What is Leopold’s definition of a trophy? What purpose does a trophy serve?

  1. “Very intensive management of game and fish lowers the unit value of the trophy by artificializing it.” What is Leopold talking about?

  1. Can you think of any other examples in your life, where the value of something (a trophy) has been reduced and doesn’t mean as much as it used to?

  1. Damage to plant life usually follows artificialized management of animals. Explain while providing a specific example.

  1. The jeep and the airplane, creatures of the ever mounting pressure from humanity, thus eliminate the opportunity for isolation in nature.” This was written in the 1940’s. List other inventions that have limited the opportunity for “isolation” since 1950.

  1. Do you feel any value in the wilderness you cannot see? Explain why or why not.

  1. Recreational development is a job, not of building roads into lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind”? What does the author mean by this statement?

Aldo Leopold Biography, page296
Answer the following with the appropriate answer or description:

  1. Birth and Death:

  1. Home:

  1. Education:

  1. Career:

  1. What do you feel is Leopold’s legacy?

  1. What is the most valuable insight or feeling you gained from this book?

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