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You DO Live Here

Written by Glenna Holstein
    Thursday, 29 October 2015
You DO Live Here

This time of year always gets me thinking about gratitude (I probably say that every November). This year, I want to share a story that perfectly captured for me why I’m so grateful to be a part of this work, and why I’m grateful for the support of so many people that make this work possible.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to teach a 3rd grade Neighborhood Environmental Education Project class at our Menomonee Valley branch. It was a glorious late spring day—sunny with just that faintest taste of summer coming around the corner.

To be honest, I can’t even remember what the intended topic was, I think it was “natural resources,” but the heart of the class was really just getting kids out experiencing and enjoying the park. We skipped rocks, we climbed trees, we tasted tart grape vines. It was great.

One of the kids was particularly taken with the grape vines. He jokingly pretended to be a grape-vine-obsessed-Mr. Hyde-like monster every time we came upon some. I love it when nature brings out kids’ silly sides!

This kid was so excited about all of the activities that as we were walking I said to him, “You know, if you came back for our Young Scientist Club, you could do this kind of thing all the time after school.” He said, (and I’m not making this up!) “Whoa...that would be like HEAVEN to me!” Later, as we were walking through the park he said, “Miss, I wish I lived here.” I laughed, and was delighted to tell him, “you DO live here!

This park is right in your neighborhood, and it’s yours! You can come whenever you want!”

I really believe that connecting kids and adults to the nature that’s right in their backyard can be fun, empowering and world-widening all at once,  and this kid was such a great reminder of that.

I am so proud and happy to be part of this work every day! And I am deeply grateful to the amazing community of people—staff, volunteers, contributing members and our whole “Urban Ecology Center family” who support the work of creating meaningful and empowering experiences in Milwaukee’s green spaces, and letting kids know that “heaven” can be right in their backyard!

Glenna Holstein

Glenna Holstein

Glenna grew up a mile up the river from the Riverside Park, so the Urban Ecology Center has always been important to her. Her studies and work have taken her all over the hemisphere, but her home has always been right here in Milwaukee. As Menomonee Valley Branch Manager, she is delighted to be part of the team that is working to connect a new community to the nature in their neighborhood. Her favorite things to do include hiking, exploring, cooking, singing, building forts, and trying to convince children that cockleburs are really baby porcupines!

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