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More Skis, More Options, More Fun in the Snow!

Written by Mike Larson
    Wednesday, 13 January 2016
More Skis, More Options, More Fun in the Snow!

Whenever I talk about my job at the Urban Ecology Center, I always mention three things:

  1.  The amazing work we do helping kids and adults get outside to enjoy nature and learn about science in an urban environment.
  2.  The awesome community of staff members and volunteers that I'm privileged to work with.
  3.  Our equipment lending benefit.

Hands down (in my biased opinion) the equipment lending benefit is the most unique and unbelievably good deal you can get in the city of Milwaukee. For $45 a year, you and your family can borrow any of our outdoor adventure equipment including cross country skis, snowshoes, sleds, ice skates, camping gear, bikes, canoes, kayaks, etc. for up the three days for free.

I love seeing the look on people's faces when I explain it to them, as if they can't quite comprehend why we would be doing such a thing for such a low price. It's simple really: our goal is to get people outside, and give them access to experiences they didn't think were possible in the middle of the city.

This winter, I'm excited to tell you, is going to be our best ever! By far the single most popular type of equipment we lend is our cross country skis. So much so that on the first snowy day of the year, we often have to turn away dozens of people because we've already loaned out all of our equipment. For this reason, we have decided to double the number of skis we have available! That's right, between our three branches there are now over 140 high quality pairs of skis, boots and poles available for you to borrow. Gather your family and friends, encourage them to become a contributing member of the Center, and enjoy a unique excursion in Riverside Park, Washington Park, Three Bridges Park, or beyond!

cross-country ski photo
Heading out with the family on cross-country skis. Photo: Kim Forbeck

Also new this year: we are piloting a brand new reservation system that will allow you to call in and reserve skis and snowshoes from us for the first time ever! This way you can plan your winter wonderland adventure weeks in advance and know that we'll have all of the equipment in the sizes you need available. In the past our skis and snowshoes were only available on a first-come, first-served basis. Now you can simply call ahead with the weight, height and boot size of everybody in your party and we'll send you a confirmation email letting you know that your equipment is reserved.

This is our first season using a brand new software system and we are a largely volunteer run organization, so please be patient as we work out the kinks in our reservation protocols. I'm confident it will be smooth sailing (or skiing?) in no time!

volunteer ski waxers
Thanks to some amzing volunteers from the United Way our new skis waxed and ready for winter!

Mike Larson

Mike Larson

Mike is a happily married man living with his family in Bay View. As a young child he spent days playing along the banks of the Rock River, fostering a love for nature which eventually led him to study biology and pursue a career with the Urban Ecology Center. He enjoys telling people everything he can about the Center through his role as the Visitor Services Manager. He hopes that the work he does can help make it possible for his two sons and other kids in Milwaukee to grow up with similar experiences to those he had as a child.

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