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It’s Easy to Start Your Year off Well!

Written by Beth Heller
    Wednesday, 28 December 2016
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.

We have many ways you can get going this year. Some are DIY: free, self-organizing opportunities facilitated by the Urban Ecology Center.

Two DIY opportunities for this winter are:

Join other families and create a Natural Families Nature Club. These clubs connect families who want to participate in outdoor activities together. Think of them as nature play dates with new friends.

Natural Families Nature Clubs were created by the Children and Nature Network (C&NN). Cofounded by Richard Louv* and Cheryl Charles, C&NN is an international network that aims to get children outside. The Urban Ecology Center shares this goal, so we’re helping people to organize their clubs. Come to an orientation the first weekend of January and receive a start-up kit .

Join our Snow and Go Facebook group and get ready to play in the snow! One of the best aspects of living in a cold climate is snow. But snowfall conditions are hard to predict. When the weather is right for skiing, snowshoeing or other outdoor activities, look at posts from community members and staff for opportunities to get outside together and play! We have equipment for members to borrow or you can bring your own. Break free from mid-winter cabin fever, join Snow and Go!

We also have opportunities I like to call DIWU or Do It With US! Guided activities are available throughout the winter at community gatherings and workshops.

Our annual Winterfest in Washington Park is a fun way for all ages to get outside, try winter outdoor equipment and celebrate. This is a great way to start a new habit of winter athletics, such as skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, or sledding (weather permitting).

If Winterfest tickled your curiosity be sure to join any of our many cross-country skiing and snowshoeing classes. In Riverside Park, our small class sizes intentionally promote customized instruction. Washington Park and Menomonee Valley provide hands-on, group instruction for beginners. All of our instructors focus on safety, skill-building and fun. Our programs are a great resource for beginner and intermediate level skiers, snowshoers and ice skaters. Scholarships are available for programs and memberships based on need.

Speaking of membership … for a very small investment you can become a member of the UEC and enjoy our equipment lending. Through the equipment lending benefit, members can borrow outdoor equipment throughout the year free of charge. This way, rather than purchasing equipment that you might use only a couple times during the year, you can invest in a good cause, save money, reduce storage needs at home and have ongoing access to winter sports (and other) equipment. This is a popular program, so reservations are recommended. Just call any of our three branches.

Getting outside in nature is not only a great form of exercise, but it also reduces stress and promotes heath. Whether you are going on your own, with family and friends or with us, we can help you get outside in all conditions and within any budget.

Start your year off well! Don’t let winter hold you captive at home. Keep your resolutions, combat cabin fever and enjoy our beautiful Wisconsin winter. We look forward to seeing you here!

*Richard Louv is the writer of the best seller, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. You will find a story about the Urban Ecology Center in the second edition.

Photo Credit: Chris vonBriesen
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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