By Marilyn Chryst
It was a cold winter night in 1999; there were snow flurries in the air. Yet 8 people showed up at the wood shop of Shaw Arboretum (now Shaw Nature Reserve) for a meeting of the newly formed St. Louis Chapter of Wild Ones. We were there to build Aldo Leopold benches. These benches, the brainchild of environmentalist Aldo Leopold, are sturdy yet use very little material. Download Tom Chryst’s instructions.
Several of us had pre-cut the wood and bought the bolts ahead of time. The “kits” were ready when everyone arrived. Tom Chryst and Scott Woodbury helped guide folks with the assembly. At the end of the evening, 8 of us had built 8 benches. Small plaques were later put on the backs, each with a quote and the fact that Wild Ones had made them. In the crew that night were Scott Woodbury, Pat Grace, Ana Grace, Tom and Marilyn Chryst.
Originally, the benches were placed on the Wildflower Trail going down toward the river. But over the years, they’ve been moved around. At Prairie Day 2014 (15½ years later!), I found one of them sitting across from the tepee. It’s great to know these benches are still being used at Shaw Nature Reserve.