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Green Career Pipeline: Voices of Our Future

Written by Beth Heller
    Monday, 24 October 2016
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.”

This “pipeline” aims to introduce youth to the possibilities of working in the environmental field. The process begins with our school program. Malachi first came to the Urban Ecology Center in 3rd grade with Golda Meir Elementary school on a field trip. He collected water samples from the Milwaukee River to determine how the quality of the water relates to pollution and the freshwater ecosystem. This was the first time he became interested in the environment.

After their school trip, students are invited to return after school or on the weekend. We encourage students to bring family members or come on their own as part of the Young Scientist Club. One of the things Malachi loves to do is bring his little brother to Washington Park to go fishing. His brother is currently a 3rd grader at Golda Meir. Perhaps he will become an Outdoor Leader like his older brother seven years from now.

In the next step in the “pipeline”, high school sophomores or juniors, can apply for the Outdoor Leadership program. This program is designed to provide two years of job training. Outdoor Leaders are placed in paid positions throughout the Center, helping with community programs, visitor services, land stewardship, volunteer engagement and marketing efforts. By the end of the two year experience, the students are ready to bring an ecological lens to their future jobs, college and life.

In college, students can continue along the path with internships for credit and paid summer intern programs. This pathway prepares them for future employment at organizations with an environmental focus, or even the Urban Ecology Center!

You are invited to visit Malachi at our Washington Park branch , where you will be able see for yourself how talented he is at connecting people to our mission. Or visit any of our branches to meet his colleagues. Each of our outdoor leaders has their own unique story about their connection to the Center. Each has their own approach to working with us and in defining their ambitions for the future. You can meeting them in person or visit our blog, where we will be writing about each Outdoor Leader over the next few months. These are the voices of our future. When you hear their stories you will know that our future is bright.


Please consider a gift to support this important work. With your help, we can continue to bring so much life to our community.

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.

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