The Academy for the Love of Learning’s Seton Legacy Project promotes and makes known the life work and philosophy of conservationist and educator Ernest Thompson Seton through research, art exhibitions, publications and film.

Seton made a permanent move from Connecticut to New Mexico in 1930, establishing the headquarters of his Woodcraft League among the piñon pine covered hills outside of Santa Fe. Following his death in 1946, his widow Julia continued the work on multiple fronts, including through her book, By a Thousand Fires.

She was joined in this pursuit by her and Ernest’s daughter, Dee Seton Barber, who in the 1990s, revived the Ernest Thompson Seton Institute, first founded in the 1930s as successor to the Woodcraft League. (Dee and Dale Barber’s daughter Julie Seton continues the work of the institute today.) {{ http://etsetoninstitute.org/}}


In 2003, a fortuitous meeting took place between Aaron Stern, founder and president of the Academy for the Love of Learning, and Dee. Aaron was looking for a permanent physical home for the Academy while Dee was hoping to find an institution to care for Seton Castle and its collections of her father’s art and literary heritage. The Academy purchased the property for its programs (see the Contact section), and established as one of them, the Seton Legacy Project.

Site Editor David L. Witt

I first discovered Seton during the summer of 1972 as assistant curator of the museum at the Boy Scouts of America Philmont Ranch outside Cimarron, New Mexico.

Now known as the National Scouting Museum—Seton Memorial Library, I read about Lobo and Woodcraft, and Aylmer Lake, the jewel of the Arctic Prairies. Later, I was (for a long time) curator of the University of New Mexico’s Harwood Museum of Art in Taos. Separately from this site, I write a radical natural history blog.

I unexpectedly got the chance to return to my Seton interests of decades earlier when the Academy’s founder and president, Aaron Stern, invited me to head what became the Seton Legacy Project.

Among our accomplishments was organizing a major Seton exhibition at the New Mexico History Museum in 2010 which was accompanied by my book, Ernest Thompson Seton, The Life and Legacy of an Artist and Conservationist (Gibb Smith Books). I have curated our Seton Gallery since 2011. In 2015, I led an expedition to Aylmer Lake, retracing Seton’s route of 1907.

Seton’s spirit lives on—as well as that of Lobo, the wolf who made all of this possible. (Lots more on him in the Blog section). I’m looking forward to your joining me in this exploration.

The Academy for the Love of Learning

The mission of the Academy is to awaken, enliven, nurture and sustain the natural love of learning in people of all ages. We seek to encourage and cultivate the powers of critical thought, imagination, curiosity, innate sense of purpose, wonder and inspiration, and an ongoing awakening of the heart.

To achieve our mission, the Academy exists as a non-profit educational organization developing and disseminating a transformative curriculum and methodology—our learning field inquiry approach to learning—through an integrated set of programs, conferences, organizational practices and research. The overarching intent of our work is to help stimulate and support the rebirth and renewal of learning and education in America. In the words of the American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, we are seeking to foster a perpetual “rebirth of wonder.”

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