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Ken Leinbach

Ken Leinbach

Ken is a nationally recognized educator and leader in community-based environmental education. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Urban Ecology Center. With his contagious energy, Ken speaks on a number of topics including: urban education, community organizing, environmental issues, finding abundance, the power of story, sustainable design, the need for "near-by" nature, leadership, fundraising, and green living. Ken holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Antioch College in Ohio, a Masters degree in Environmental Education from Prescott College in Arizona and received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Milwaukee Instituted of Art and Design.

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 11:48

All for One and One for All

We talk a lot about the impact of the work you help us do, as we should, because it’s impressive. Together we’re improving academic performance in our students. Community pride abounds. Crime is diminished. Land is healed. Jobs are created and a whole lot of learning happens. Kids, who would be inside watching a screen are outside in nature laughing, learning, and playing.

I am incredibly thankful for all we have done together, and while I can talk all day of our accomplishments, this article is a little different.

I am excited to announce that print copies of our new book — Urban Ecology: A Natural Way to Transform Kids, Parks, Cities and the World — will be available for sale this fall at the Urban Ecology Center! Soon you will be able to get your very own signed copy to both support the Center and spread the word.

The e-book launched in April on Amazon and quickly rose to best seller status in the Children’s Study and the Urban Planning & Development categories … wild eh? But as great as that was, I have to admit that having a hard copy in hand will be very satisfying.

Our impact isn’t always known right away. Sometimes it surprises us years later. An individual experience at our Center expands into a huge community change.

That experience, well it’s just magical!

Monday, 15 May 2017 15:42

An International Impact

As we created Urban Ecology Center branches, we were barely thinking outside of the bounds of our neighborhoods. Our goals were all about “acting local” - protecting and enhancing Milwaukee’s natural areas and its surrounding waters. “Thinking global” was attainable, but “acting global” seemed a bit out of reach. The thought of our work having anything to do with places as far flung as Guatemala, Mexico, Israel, the Congo or Tanzania was not even possible to conceive of back in those earlier days.

Monday, 27 February 2017 13:30

So ... How Do You Write a Book?

Below is the story of how Ken wrote Urban Ecology: a Natural Way to Transform Kids, Parks, Cities, and the World. Click here for a short synopsis of the book.

The way I wrote a book was not traditional, but I doubt that is much of a surprise to most.

Wait, did you catch that? I just wrote a book!

It's called Urban Ecology: a Natural Way to Transform Kids, Parks, Cities, and the World.

This adventure started two years ago when Peter and Jean Storer offered us support for the purpose of writing a book. Without any request  from us, they felt that the Urban Ecology Center story needed to be told. What followed was a little bit of luck and some awesome opportunities.

A chance conversation with an old college friend introduced me to Difference Press out of Washington DC.

Thursday, 10 November 2016 10:28

Force for Good

Lately I’ve been thinking about how the Urban Ecology Center is like Star Wars. Wait, I know this sounds like a stretch, but stay with me. One of the underlying themes of Star Wars is that when diverse people come together for the greater good they can create world altering change. Tapping into the diversity of natural and community life here in Milwaukee, the Urban Ecology Center is creating “world altering” change, neighborhood by neighborhood. And we get the excitement of working locally now, not “a long time ago” and “far, far away.”

Friday, 02 September 2016 12:41

So Much Life!

Can a few words ever capture all that the Urban Ecology Center is? Take this real-life experience on the Milwaukee River, for example:

Full moon. Summer night. A beaver’s tail slapped. The river glistened in the light. Baby ducklings twittered, their silhouettes lined up behind their mother. Bats skimmed the water and two bull frogs competed with a gaa-rumph mating call.

How do you sum up all that? Or how about this memory:

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 13:30

Introducing a Walk of 3 Billion Years

Studying nature is a great way to feel young…comparatively speaking, that is. There are trees that are hundreds of years old as well as turtle and bird species that can easily outlive the humans who care for them. The entire human race is like a newborn when compared to billion-year-old rocks. It’s mind blowing!

Thanks to a generous gift from the Franke family, we’ve created a way to explore this concept of time through nature. We’re proud to introduce a new treasure, a 3 Billion Year Walk through the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.

Monday, 02 May 2016 13:06

Our Piece of the Puzzle

Have you ever tried to put a puzzle together without looking at the picture on the box? You spend a lot of time trying to figure out if the blue piece is sky or water. Without the seeing the whole picture you don’t understand how that piece fits in.

I was reminded of this idea during a recent conversation with a well-meaning and inquisitive young man who was trying to understand what the Center was all about. “Why on earth are you in the city?” he asked. “I mean, what kind of nature can you find there?”

It was the best “wild ice” for skating that I have found in years. A vast expanse of smooth-as-glass clear ice made not by a Zamboni, but by Mother Nature herself. And perhaps the biggest surprise of all? This “secret gem” wasn’t some hidden lake up state, but it was right here, in the shadow of the US Bank building downtown. I’ve been here over 20 years now and I still keep finding the unexpected. This is why I LOVE living in Milwaukee.

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