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Beth Heller

Beth Heller

Senior Director of Education and Strategic Planning, Beth received her Masters in Business Administration from UW-Milwaukee in 2005, where she received the Outstanding Business Plan award for a plan to launch a branch of the Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park. She graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in 1994 with a B.A. degree in Biology and Education. Beth began working at the Urban Ecology Center in 2000 to combine her love of the city with her appreciation of nature. Beth loves to sail, bike, sing and hike.

Thursday, 16 November 2017 12:10

Giving the Gift of Experience

“See you at the top, Aunt Beth!” shouted my niece, Kate who was 12 at the time. We were at Lapham Peak facing what is affectionately called “Asthma Hill”. My niece and her friend had mastered the art of skiing uphill leaving me lagging behind, catching my breath. They paused and asked me to lead only once, at the “Roller Coaster” section of the trail: a steep, undulating, fast and slightly icy technical stretch. I must say, I was delighted to be able to give a few pointers, even if it was just once that day.

Friday, 22 September 2017 12:01

Celebrating 10 Years at Washington Park!

This year the Urban Ecology Center is celebrating 10 years of programming in Washington Park. What an amazing 10 years it has been!

We opened our Washington Park branch in 2007. This was our first attempt to expand our mission outside of Riverside Park. We rented one third of our current home in the Milwaukee County Park’s Washington Park Pavilion with the help of many neighbors, donors and friends.

Monday, 26 June 2017 12:08

Summer Lights

Milwaukee’s summer months are filled with light! Throughout the city there are fireworks, stage lights, tiki torches and people coming together to enjoy the weather. But if you are looking to spend time away from the massive crowds and hard streets, you don’t need to look very far: nature offers its own set of lights!

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 15:54

Learning about Learning

An ornithologist and ecologist are hiking along the Milwaukee River. No, this is not a start to a bad joke – it is a story about how we think.

As they turn a corner, the ornithologist gasps as she sees a tree alive with the movement of over 20 birds! Stopping, she focuses her binoculars and directs her attention to the characteristics that will help her identify them. It is challenging and fun. She is having a great time and decides she needs to walk here more often and plans to tell all of her friends about this wonderful place to look for birds!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016 09:00

It’s Easy to Start Your Year off Well!

Keeping New Year’s resolutions can be hard. Especially if one of your resolutions is to be active outdoors the middle of a season that usually keeps us indoors. I’ve learned that finding a group of people with similar interests can help get me going. So, if you’re aiming to start your year with more exercise, less stress and more meaningful time with family, we can connect you with others to help you along. Soon the resolution will become a part of your usual routine.

Monday, 24 October 2016 10:41

Green Career Pipeline: Voices of Our Future

Malachi Crenshaw, a 10th grader at Rufus King High School, finished teaching his first solo Water Safety Course when I met him at the Washington Park branch. I asked him if he had been nervous about being the only instructor and he said “I was more curious. I’m pretty comfortable with public speaking and I know the content, so I mostly was interested to see how those would come together.” This is exactly the kind of experience we hope to provide to our High School Outdoor Leaders – hands-on work.

The High School Outdoor Leader program is one step in our “green career pipeline.”

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 13:07

Experiencing Nature Without Sight

Mary (not her real name) was excited. She could smell the earthiness and hear the wind rustling the trees that told her that today’s lesson was going to be outdoors. She bounced slightly from foot to foot as her favorite Urban Ecology Center educator, Ms. Regina, described the day’s activities.

“Can I run now?” Mary asked her teacher from school.

“Yes, go for it!” her teacher replied. Smiling, Mary ran across the field, exhilarated by the fresh air and the ground pounding beneath her feet.

Thursday, 30 June 2016 12:23

CRIKT and You

It is the season of showy butterflies, buzzing cicadas, crackling grass hopper wings and CRIKT research. Nope, that is not a typo. CRIKT stands for “Citizens Researching Invertebrate Kritters Together” and this research team at the Urban Ecology Center is leading the nation in its approach to field ecological research. “Invertebrate Kritters” refers to the vast array of animals found in the insect, spider and mite categories. Because invertebrates impact people in a variety of ways: pollinating crops, decimating crops and invoking some of our greatest fears or senses of awe, they have been studied quite a bit over the years. So what sets CRIKT apart? It is WHO is involved and WHERE they work.

Have you ever been a tourist in your own town? Taking a stay-cation or planning day trips can be a great way to gain an even deeper appreciation for the jewels we have. My suggestion? Spend some time in Milwaukee County’s vast park system. You can start at our Riverside or Washington Park branches by going on a guided tour.

My husband and I recently completed a year-long local “tourist” adventure of learning, exploration and fun.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015 00:00

The Intersection of Ecology and Art

“I realized I truly wanted to study ecology – a seed that was planted during my time at [the Urban Ecology Center] but took a few years to sprout.”

This is the opening line of an email from a former High School Outdoor Leader, Robby Friedlen, to Riverside Park Branch Manager, Jamie Ferschinger. He was eager to share the reason behind his decision to shift his research studies to “the intersection of ecology – through the lens of permaculture – and the arts.” As a High School Outdoor Leader in 2009, Robby spent a portion of his summer working with internationally known artist Roy Staab.

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