Aldo Leopold chairsInstructor:  John Manthei

Date of the class: Saturday, May 1, 2021

Time of the class: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Additional online conversation/presentation: Tuesday, April 27, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Location: Pioneer Park - Outdoors near Workshop
(We will have overhead protection in case of rain, but please dress for the weather.)

Have you heard of a Leopold Bench? It is a chair designed by Aldo Leopold, a U.S. settler-colonial conservationist and author of A Sand County Almanac. Leopold began making his benches in the early 1940s from materials scrounged along the banks of the Wisconsin River. He placed them around the woods on his farm in central Wisconsin, which occupied unceded Ho-Chunk ancestral Lands, so folks could sit and observe and contemplate. The benches were meant to be outdoor furniture that would weather and blend in with the surroundings, eventually returning to earth.

Aldo Leopold ChairWith the help of Folk School instructors, you, too, can build one of these benches to put outside, in the woods, on the porch, or even in your home. They are simple and fun to make, and will last for years. They also can easily be lifted and turned to face different outlooks.

In this outdoor, hands-on workshop each person will make their own bench out of Alaska white spruce milled locally, in Goldstream Valley, which is unceded traditional territory of lower Tanana Dene Peoples.

Participants will use hand tools to measure angles, saw boards, plane and bevel edges, and drill holes. You can choose to make a single or a double chair to cozy up to a friend. This is a child-friendly project and adults are welcome to bring a young companion (one per adult) and work as a team building one chair.

This class will be held outdoors so please dress accordingly.

Important: Participants must wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines. Masks must fit securely, and cover both nose and mouth.

Aldo Leopold Chair Jemez Pueblo

Photo by Julianne Warren

Optional Zoom Presentation/Conversation with Julianne Warren, Susan Campbell, Siqiñiq Maupin, and John Manthei on Tuesday, April 27, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
This presentation will focus on Aldo Leopold’s legacy and its challenges today. Excerpts from some of Leopold’s essays and of others’ perspectives will be shared. Time for discussion and questions will be included. (When you register for Build A Leopold Bench, we will add you to the list for the Zoom presentation.)
Click here for details about the presentation.

Age range: Adults. Youth welcome (one per adult) with an adult co-learner. Adult/child teams should register together and will work together to build one chair.

Minimum number of students: 5

Maximum number of students: 10

Cost: $50

Materials fee:
Single bench (24″ wide): $40
Double bench (48″ wide): $45

Contact: John Manthei: or 907-455-4547

Pre-registration: This event is pre-registration only. Please register by 2 days before the event. Registration will be closed after this time. 



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Is the reason financial? We have scholarships available.