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News from the Volunteer Program!

Written by Beth Heller
    Monday, 08 January 2018
News from the Volunteer Program!

We are delighted to announce that the Urban Ecology Center’s volunteer department achieved certification as a “Service Enterprise” organization through Points of Light! This national recognition of excellence comes after a rigorous process in Points of Light’s Service Enterprise training program. The program aims to help nonprofits who already engage volunteers well to learn ways to more effectively engage volunteers and extend the reach of their missions.

During the training we reflected on the talents of our volunteers and our volunteer department’s programs, processes and systems. We’ve identified creative approaches to improve volunteers’ experiences and expand the impact of the program. And we had a look into the volunteer programs of other nonprofits around the city – a helpful, fresh perspective!

Why is this important now? Our vision is that every urban child will have access to nature throughout their childhood and a mentor who demonstrates authentic care for the environment. Children with this experience not only learn to respect and understand the importance of nurturing our ecosystems, but they also develop critical thinking skills, healthy habits and a sense of belonging. Our volunteers are mentors and an important part of the process. To realize our vision, a larger and more strategic volunteer commitment will be needed. The Service Enterprise process has prepared us for that work.

We are ready! Meghan Jones, former Volunteer Program Manager, has arrived safely in Thailand with her family. We look forward to her visiting us again when she returns to Milwaukee, and wish her well in her new adventures! Because of Meghan’s leadership, our volunteer department is ready for this new chapter.

We are really excited to share that our Washington Park branch Volunteer Coordinator, Davita Flowers-Shanklin, will be our new Volunteer Program Manager starting on January 2nd, 2018! In her time at the Center, Davita has worked in three different departments — community programs, development and volunteer programs. Outside of the UEC, she also has had vast opportunities to lead and work with volunteers through her graduate fellowship program with the Environmental Leadership Program, Groundwork Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Environmental Consortium and Public Allies. Her energy and enthusiasm for volunteer engagement and environmental issues is contagious! Davita and her team completed the Service Enterprise training together and are ready for her to be in this new role. Please join me in congratulating her.

If you are a volunteer, or have been thinking about volunteering, 2018 is great time to connect or reconnect to the Urban Ecology Center. There are new and growing ways to engage. Come share in the excitement at an upcoming volunteer orientation. We need you!

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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