Honoring the Ground We Stand On
Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946) was an artist, naturalist, early co-creator of the wildlife conservation movement, co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America, and he owned the estate where the Academy for the Love of Learning now stands. The Seton Legacy Project, overseen by Academy historian David Witt, curates Seton’s artwork and writings and explores the vital connections between Seton’s early 20th century vision of wild nature, contemporary environmental issues, and thoughtful stewardship.
The Seton Legacy Project includes a gallery, housed at the Academy, which exhibits permanent and rotating collections of Seton’s artwork and writings and is open to the public twice each month and by appointment. The Project also hosts evening conversations at the Academy, research, an annual Seton birthday gathering and nature-based and educational programming that help keep Seton’s transformation and philosophy alive in public discourse.
The Seton Legacy Project is a convergence of two visions: the Academy’s vision of learning as a practice for “waking up,” and Seton’s early 20th century vision of wild nature. This convergence is explored through ecological programming that includes lectures, exhibitions, community conversations, and the annual Seton Campfire Tales.
In 1898, Seton published Wild Animals I have Known, a book that became famous around the world and sparked a new genre of realistic wildlife fiction. It also ignited a shift in cultural views toward wildlife. In the book’s first short story, Seton tells the tale of hunting Lobo, a fierce wolf who preyed on cattle in northern New Mexican ranches. Though Seton ultimately killed the wolf, Lobo is portrayed as the hero of the story. Central to the Seton Legacy Project is the story of Seton’s personal transformation from hunter to conservationist, his work as a passionate advocate for wilderness protection, and his passion for encouraging people to experience nature. Seton stands as an example of the human capacity to transform, echoing and re-inspiring the Academy’s assumption that we can and do become better at being human beings.
The Seton Legacy Project continues to seek new ways to share Seton’s legacy and develop new programs and tours that are built on Seton’s “lifecraft” philosophy.