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Receptionist Spotlight: Carol Brill

Written by Danny Pirtle
    Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Receptionist Spotlight: Carol Brill

 “Think globally, act locally.” Although she didn’t come up with this slogan herself, Carol Brill tries to live her life by this guiding motto. By getting involved with local organizations in her community, Carol recognizes that her work and actions will make a far-reaching impact.

This principle is what steered her to becoming a volunteer at the Urban Ecology Center where she can now be found operating the Riverside Park reception desk every Friday afternoon.

When you walk into Riverside Park on a Friday afternoon, you will be greeted by Carol. Whether she is answering the phone, signing people up for our membership program, helping members reserve and check out equipment, or so much more, Carol’s role as a volunteer receptionist is integral to the center’s operations. “I love working the reception desk on Friday afternoons,” she says. “There’s lots of action, lots of people coming in, lots of equipment going out – that’s what I like.”

Carol’s relationship with the Urban Ecology Center goes back to the ‘90’s, when the UEC was a trailer set up in Riverside Park. She recalls regularly bringing her sons, now ages 32 and 28, to the trailer for classes and activities. Having worked for the East Side Housing Action Committee (ESHAC) herself, Carol has always been passionate about neighborhood organizations that serve their surrounding communities. She saw that happening at the Urban Ecology Center. When she retired four years ago, Carol attended a volunteer orientation to see how she could get more involved with the center. She first volunteered with a summer biking camp, then helped out with invasive species removal with the land stewardship team before stepping into her current role as a receptionist.

As a receptionist, Carol regularly finds herself explaining what exactly the Urban Ecology Center is to new visitors. “People who don’t know us, I try to help them understand that we aren’t just a place to come get your bike and your kayak. We are an education and community center. People are always amazed at the variety of things UEC is involved with!” Carol’s passion for the mission of the Urban Ecology Center is palpable in her every interaction. Beyond her Friday afternoon reception shifts, Carol always finds herself talking about the center to others. “Anytime I meet anyone talking about Milwaukee, I ask if they know about UEC and the wonderful things that are going on.” Carol strongly believes that the best way to engage with community organizations is to become a volunteer.

Carol’s advice for future volunteers to the center is to try something new, maybe something you are uncomfortable doing. “For me, doing the land stewardship work was uncomfortable – I don’t exactly have a green thumb! So, I worried I wouldn’t exactly know the difference between the weeds and the good plants. But Joel and Caitlin [Riverside Park Land Stewardship staff] were so good at instructing and they made me feel fine about it. It was a challenge, but I learned something new!”

Choosing to get involved with the Urban Ecology Center is one way Carol is acting locally in order to have a global impact. “I love Milwaukee,” she says. “We have lots of challenges but I’ve been here almost my whole life and UEC is an example of one of the wonderful things that happens in Milwaukee. Something that’s by the river and involves everybody – you can be anybody to participate. That’s super!” We think Carol is pretty super, too.  

Danny Pirtle

Danny Pirtle

Danny grew up on the shore of Lake Michigan in Racine, Wisconsin. After spending time studying the natural world (and seeing a whole lot of birds) in Minnesota, California, Indiana, and Australia, he returned to his Midwestern roots as a Community Engagement Specialist at the Urban Ecology Center. His favorite bird is the Pigeon Guillemot and his favorite nature sound is the trill of the American Toad. When away from Riverside Park, he can be found walking with his puppy and his partner on the Oak Leaf Trail, or curled up with the latest Star Wars novel.

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