Our facility will be closed on Monday, Jan. 15th in observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Our building will reopen to the public at 9am on Tuesday, Jan. 16th.

As always, our grounds and trails featuring self-guided tours are free and open daily from dawn until dusk.
Please exercise caution to remain safe on trails, sidewalks, and driveways, as conditions may be icy.

Our facility is open on weekdays from 9am to 4pm and on weekends from 10am to 2pm.

As always, our grounds and trails featuring self-guided tours are free and open daily from dawn until dusk.

Community Ethics & Nature

Caring for ALL People and Their Relationship to Nature

In recent years, we have put great efforts towards inclusion, diversity, equity and access; we would also like to acknowledge that we have a long way to go, in our organization, in our field, and in our society. This page is meant to serve as a working document of our efforts at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and hold us accountable for all of the work we have yet to do. We invite you to use this page as a resource of our access initiatives and, if you have any additional resources or suggestions of ways we can be equitable to ALL of our community, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you.

Please contact our Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives, Brenna Holzhauer at brenna@aldoleopoldnaturecenter.org with comments, questions and suggestions.


We acknowledge the First Nations that came before us, specifically the Ho-Chunk Nation, on whose ancestral land the Aldo Leopold Nature Center sits. The Ho-Chunk have traditional lands across the upper Midwest; our local Madison area is called Teejop (day-JOPE) which refers to its four lakes (Mendota, Monona, Waubesa and Kegonsa). This area, known for its many Native American mounds, has a rich human history extending back several thousand years. The Ho-Chunk remain active in our community, continuing to sustain their culture and beliefs, despite government seizure or forced removal from most of these lands. We are grateful to all who have long stewarded this land, and we recognize that we have much to learn. As we work to educate ourselves and others of the cultural and historical significance of our land, we invite you to check out the many resources on the Wisconsin First Nations website.

We believe that diverse communities are healthier — in nature and in society. We also know that we operate within societal systems that are too often unjust and flawed, and we all have work to do towards celebrating diversity and making our community more equitable for everyone. We wish to acknowledge this painful reality and share our support for people of color and others who do not feel safe, especially those who continue to struggle against racism, discrimination and inequality. We see you. We see our community hurting.

We are used to turning to nature for solace and comfort. But we also recognize that nature and other public spaces may not feel safe and healthy for all members of our community. We work everyday to support EVERY person’s right to reap the benefits of time outdoors without fear, and we are committed to this now more than ever.

We believe that when we are thoughtful about being inclusive in how we engage and educate, we can help students to know that NATURE IS FOR EVERYONE and should be a safe place to learn and explore. In recent years, we have been putting great efforts towards inclusion, diversity, equity and access; we also acknowledge that we have a long way to go, in our organization, in our field, and in our society. We are grateful for individuals, families and partners who have been working with us to move in the right direction, and we pledge to continue to prioritize this important work.

In solidarity,

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center Staff and Board

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Initiatives

In an effort to be more accessible and inclusive towards all of our community, we:

  • Created lottery registration systems to help make summer camps and nature preschool enrollment more equitable and inclusive, including weighted questions to help us identify and prioritize students who may have been historically underserved and underrepresented
  • Underwent process to make many of our programs eligible for Wisconsin Shares, which supports working families by subsidizing childcare costs
  • Acquired a 15-passenger van and developed a new inclusive K-5 OAKS After-School program, which includes sliding-scale tuition, tuition assistance, and transportation to ALNC for busy families
  • Added a new Inclusion & Impact Manager to our staff to help us better serve diverse families and expand and improve our IDEA initiatives
  • Working with Natural Resources Foundation’s Diversity in Conservation Internship Program, which provides meaningful experiences for undergraduates interested in careers in natural resource conservation, specifically targeted to applicants from underrepresented groups or disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Expanded our tuition assistance for all of our environmental education programs, including summer camps, vacation days, Wonder Bugs and homeschool programs
  • Opened the Aldo Leopold Nature Preschool with a welcoming child-led philosophy, monthly tuition rates based on a sliding scale with additional full- or partial-tuition assistance opportunities
  • Brought Wonder Bugs On the Road through a partnership with MMSD’s Play & Learn program, offering the program for no cost at community centers throughout Madison and removing transportation, language and financial barriers to participation
  • Built a partnership with Open Doors for Refugees to engage local immigrant families in ALNC programming, family nights and more
  • Created a partnership with ReachDane, including family events and tuition assistance for ALNC Summer Camps
  • Eliminated public admission fees to our indoor play spaces and opened our signature events – Maple Syrup Fest and Fall Fest – to the public at no cost
  • Changed our restroom signage and design to be more inclusive and accessible and updated our forms, signage and digital media with gender-inclusive language and opportunity to collect and share the preferred pronouns of our students, members, visitors and staff
  • Started a staff-led social justice book club and continue to encourage professional development participation to build time and opportunity for growth within our organization
  • Surveyed physical accessibility of facility and grounds and continue to make upgrades where needed, including two new ADA and gender-neutral family restrooms, ramp and trail improvements to provide better accessibility between our facility and grounds, and installation of a wheelchair-accessible pond dock

We continue to:

  • Further expand our tuition assistance program, so that whenever assistance is needed, funds are available
  • Subsidize school field trip costs and help cover the cost of bus transportation
  • Work with MSCR to create summer learning opportunities for academically-challenged students and training for their staff
  • Translate our education program materials and marketing materials into Spanish
  • Portray the diverse community that we serve in our staffing structure and marketing materials
  • Provide professional development and networking opportunities for our staff to improve education and communication
  • Build and strengthen new and existing partnerships and outreach to connect with new audiences and increase impact
  • Review and update our organizational policies, practices and procedures (e.g. hiring practices, language used by teaching staff)
  • Update language and signage across our organization to ensure we are welcoming to all of our community
  • Grow our Community Access Fund, which supports these and other initiatives towards allowing ALL children and their families to experience the wonders of the natural world
  • Create community ownership through connections, membership development, and networking
  • Prioritize community access and ensure organization-wide awareness of, commitment to and accountability for these initiatives




There are many organizations doing great work towards inclusion, diversity, equity and access in education and the outdoors, and the resources available are growing by the day. As we continue learning and educating ourselves, we have compiled a few of our favorites that are guiding our work.

  • ACA Summer Camp for All
    Tips and discussion from the American Camp Association for serving the needs of trans campers and staff
  • Conscious Discipline
    Resources and professional development in trauma-informed, evidence-based, social emotional learning
  • Cream City Conservation
    Milwaukee-based organization helping environmental and community-based organizations address diversity and land stewardship needs to increase engagement of traditionally underrepresented populations
  • Diversify Outdoors
    Writings and resources for promoting diversity in outdoor spaces where people of color, LGBTQIA and other diverse identities have historically been underrepresented
    A national network of educators, students and local GLSEN Chapters working to give every student the right to a safe, supportive and LGBTQ-inclusive K-12 education
  • Green for All
    A national program at the intersection of the environmental, economic, and racial justice movements
  • Intersectional Environmentalist
    A climate justice community and resource hub centering BIPOC and historically under-amplified voices in the environmental space
  • The Joy Trip Project
    A newsgathering and reporting organization that covers outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, and the Adventure Gap, which focuses on the fact that minority populations are much less likely to seek recreation, adventure and solace in our wilderness spaces
    *a project of ALNC board member, James Edward Mills
  • NAAEE Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
    equity resources and professional development
    For building a more inclusive environmental movement, promoting ecological integrity, economic prosperity, and social equity
  • Outdoor Afro
    The nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature
  • Sierra Club Environmental Justice
    Discussion and resources on the linkages between environmental quality and social justice, aiming to promote dialogue, increased understanding, and appropriate action
  • TSER (Trans Student Educational Resources)
    Youth-led organization dedicated to transforming the educational environment for trans and gender nonconforming students through advocacy and empowerment
  • WAEE Eco-Justice Resources
    A compilation of resources to support individual and organizational efforts in increasing Eco-Justice impacts in the field of Environmental Education
    *a project of ALNC’s Nature Net
  • Welcoming Schools
    Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s LGBTQ+ and gender inclusive professional development training, lesson plans, booklists and resources specifically designed for educators and youth-serving professionals
  • Wisconsin First Nations
    A rich collection of educational videos, teacher professional development resources, lesson plans for all grades and learning tools for your classroom and library
  • YMCA Camps – Effectively Engaging Trans Campers and Participants
    Policy and guidelines from a summer camp committed to ensuring access, inclusion, and engagement for all

Aldo Leopold Nature Center