Dyck Arboretum 35th Anniversary

A Kansas Land Ethic: Celebrating 35 Years of Dyck Arboretum of the Plains

The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains turns thirty-five years old this fall. On October 10, 1981, Harold and Elva Mae Dyck directed the first bur oak tree to be planted near what is now our parking lot. The Dycks had a vision that the Arboretum would encourage a greater understanding and appreciation of the simple beauty of Kansas wildflowers, grasses, trees, and shrubs. Simply put, they had a Kansas land ethic, and wanted to share it with others.


Harold and Evie started the Dyck Arboretum in 1981 and had a Kansas land ethic.

Arboretum staff and board members are planning a year-long series of events to celebrate the anniversary of that vision. A fitting focus for these events is found in the landmark American conservation book A Sand County Almanac. Written by wildlife biologist/ecologist, Aldo Leopold, in the 1940s, this book is a series of essays based on plant and wildlife observations throughout the year. Leopold wrote eloquently in these essays about the ecological restoration of land on his farm in Sauk Co., Wisconsin. In the concluding chapter, “A Land Ethic”, Leopold reflects how conservation is a state of harmony between people and the land.


Conservationist/writer Aldo Leopold’s essay “The Land Ethic” focuses on the connection between people and the land.

In the coming year, we will explore many interesting connections between Leopold’s writings and what we do in carrying out Harold and Evie’s legacy focused on connecting people to the prairie. Collaborative readings of A Sand County Almanac, viewings of the award-winning Leopold documentary Green Fire, prairie-related plant and wildlife field trips at Dyck Arboretum and nearby destinations in Kansas, classes to construct wildlife viewing Leopold benches and prairie-themed bird baths, prairie landscaping classes, a wildlife-themed Winter Lecture Series, and a land ethic spring symposium are all being planned to help us explore our Kansas land ethic.

The following events have been planned and more will be updated as they develop. We hope you will be participating with us in this rich celebration.

-Calender of Events-

  • October 10, 2016 – 5:00-7:00 p.m. We will kick off our year of activities by commemorating the first oak tree planting with a planting of another oak 35 years later. Refreshments, a short presentation by staff, and a symbolic tree planting from 5:00-6:00 will be followed by a showing of the award-winning Aldo Leopold 60-minute documentary Green Fire to kick off our year of activities.
  • October 24, 2016 – 6:00-8:00 p.m. Spiders at Dyck Arboretum! Learn from spider expert, Dustin Wilgers, why spiders are actually not so creepy after all. A presentation about the arachnids all around us followed by a night walk to find “glowing” spider eyes will be a fun way to expand your horizons about these fascinating creatures. ($2/person)
  • November 5, 2016 – 2:15-11:00 p.m. Cranes & Constellations at Quivira – Leopold wrote eloquently and mournfully in “Marshland Elegy” about annual migration of the sandhill crane, and at the time the perilous decline of this species. Click HERE for more information about this trip.
  • November 14, 2016 – Showing of award-winning Aldo Leopold full length 73-minute documentary Green Fire and discussion of a chapter from A Sand County Almanac.
  • January 11, 2017 – 6-9 p.m. Celebrate Aldo Leopold’s 130th birthday with a 6:00 p.m. Dutch Oven meal he might have cooked and a reading of a chapter or two from A Sand County Almanac followed by discussion. Karen and David LeVan will be discussing the essays “Good Oak” and “65290” about chickadees. RSVP for food by Monday, January 9.
  • January and February (7-9 p.m. on 1/11, 1/25, 2/8, and 2/22/17) – Four book club sessions to discuss readings from A Sand County Almanac. Let us know if you are interested in participating.
    • On January 11, Karen and David LeVan (Hesston College faculty members) will be discussing the essays “Good Oak” and “65290” about chickadees.
    • The January 25 session will be led by Lorna Harder (Dyck Arboretum Board Member) and will focus on “Marshland Elegy” and “Odyssey” in the Part II essays.
    • On February 8, Mark Kozubowski (a trained Leopold Education Project facilitator) will make us yearn for the summer months with a look at the July through September essays “Great Possessions”, “Prairie Birthday”, “The Green Pasture”, and “The Choral Copse”.
    • And on February 22 session will be led by Duane Friesen (emeritus ethics professor) and will focus on “The Land Ethic”.
  • Winter Lecture Series: January 31 (Ken Brunson, Fire Recovery in the Red Hills of Kansas), February 28 (Mark Nolen – Animal Sounds Around Us – Listening for Birds, Frogs, and Insects), and March 28 (Lenora Larson – Using Native Plants to Attract Butterflies). Supper ($5) at 6:00 p.m., lecture ($2) at 6:30. Call 620-327-8127 for supper reservations.
  • January 20, 2017 – 8:30-4:30 p.m. Earth Partnership for Schools one-day winter institute at Dyck Arboretum.
  • Birding at Dyck Arboretum with Dyck Arboretum board president and experienced birder, Lorna Harder.
  • March 18 Symposium: “Living the Land Ethic in Kansas”. Click HERE for more details.
  • March (Date TBD) – Participate in a prescribed prairie burn at Dyck Arboretum (call us to be on a contact list).
  • Spring and summer wildflower walks – (Dates TBD)
  • Bird Bath-Making Class – (Date TBD) Make concrete dishes with prairie plant imprints to add a decorative flare to your native landscape.
  • Leopold Bench-Making Class – (Date TBD) Make the simple and iconic “Leopold Bench” that Aldo constructed to watch nature.
  • Phenology Wheel Observations (thoughout the year) – A major theme of A Sand County Almanac essays was centered on phenology – the observance of cyclical and seasonal natural events. Participate in phenology by contributing to a “phenology wheel” at the Arboretum by recording the phenological events you observe here.

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