Displaying items by tag: Community Programs
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 16:07

Plant Anatomy & Physiology Course

When I first started learning about plants, I had a lot of questions. How does a tree gets water from deep in the ground all the way up to leaves 160 feet in the air? How are plants able to survive cold winters like this one? How do seeds know when to germinate in the spring? Why are most plants green anyway? Why not blue or pink or black? Do plants communicate with one another? How do plants defend themselves from attack by insects? Whew! That's a lot of stuff to learn! The more I dug into this (no pun intended), the more I discovered how amazing, adaptable, and beautiful plants can be.

Monday, 15 January 2018 12:45

Making Memories at Winterfest

Many times, members have shared with me their fond memories of ice skating on the Washington Park Lagoon while growing up. Having accessible skating in their neighborhoods was a huge part of many people’s childhoods. It was an important part of my childhood, too! I walked to a local park to go ice skating. Providing that service to the Washington Park neighborhood is something that we take great pride in as an organization.

Even during the winter, there is so much life in our parks! In fact, the Urban Candlelight Hike at Three Bridges Park is one of the most lively events throughout the year.

On February 3, the Hank Aaron State Trail will be illuminated with hundreds of candles for an event that is unique in our city. The Urban Candlelight Hike is a wonderful opportunity to embrace the experience of the cold and darkness of winter. 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 08:56

Winterfest 2018


Winterfest 2018

Saturday, January 27

Winterfest for Afternoon Nappers 10:30am- Noon

Don´t let your little ones miss the Winterfest fun just because they nap in the afternoon! Come to the morning version of Winterfest exclusively for children ages 5 and under accompanied by an adult. Enjoy a craft, hike and puppet show. Please register all children. Space is limited.

Register Today


 MG 6799

 Arts and Crafts during the Winterfest Afternoon Nappers 2017. Photo: Ben Martorell

Winterfest Noon - 4pm

Join us as we celebrate winter with fun outdoor and indoor activities at our annual Winterfest on Saturday January 27th in Washington Park. The event is for everyone and is free

    Ice Skating


    Arts & Crafts

    Door County Sled Dogs

    Free Food

    and More!


    Winterfest 2015 018 Chris von Briesen

    Fun Sledding time! Photo: Chris Von Briesen



    Door County Sled Dogs. Photo: Ann Graf


    Sponsors and Community Partners

    Komatsu logo


    wpp logo small

Wednesday, 06 September 2017 20:11

Costa Rica 2018

With the largest percentage of protected areas of any country and plans to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, the New Economics Foundation rated Costa Rica as the greenest country in the world. We’ll explore the amazing natural areas and biodiversity that bring visitors from around the world, while also looking into social and economic forces that contribute to some of the best examples of sustainability on a national level.

caiman tortuguero park Global Water Forum
Traveling the canals of Tortuguero National Park. Can you spot the caiman in this shot? Photo: Global Water Forum

sunbittern Tapanti Park Kathy Sam
See sunbitterns like this in Tapanti National Park. Photo: Kathy & Sam


January 31 – February 11, 2018 (12 days, 11 nights)


  • Tortuguero National Park, a unique area where the primary avenues of exploring are the many naturally-formed canals through primary rainforest. This area was preserved primarily to protect sea turtles and jaguars.
  • Orosi, one of the few colonial cities that have preserved Spanish architecture from the 16- and 1700’s.
  • Tapanti National Park, home of Baird’s tapir, jaguarondi, kinkajou, monkeys and 400+ species of birds.
  • Opportunities to go whitewater rafting and snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean – but if that is too adventurous – relaxing in volcanic hot springs!


$2625.00 plus airfare (double occupancy)

If you are interested in this trip, have questions, or would like more information, please contact Tim Vargo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (414) 964-8505 or attend a free information session with Carlos Chavarría, Director of Costa Rica Rainforest Experience and former Director of Tirimbina Rain Forest on Monday, October 30th at 6pm at the Riverside Park branch.

Carlos Chavarría will give a preview of the Urban Ecology Center's trip to Costa Rica. We’ll explore the amazing natural areas and biodiversity that bring visitors from around the world, while also looking into social and economic forces that contribute to some of the best examples of sustainability on a national level.

Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi WJ
The Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi (built in 1743) in the Orosi Valley of Costa Rica. Photo: W & J


The Urban Ecology Center Eco-travel program offers a unique way to explore local and international destinations while exploring issues around sustainability. Your participation supports the Urban Ecology Center’s mission.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 17:22

Summer Camp Isn’t Just for Kids!

Summer camp season is in full swing here at the Center, and our branches are echoing with the sounds of happy children having adventures! If you’re feeling a little jealous of all the fun our campers are having, then we have the perfect event for you – our Grown-Up Summer Camp, brought to you by our friends at New Belgium Brewing and hosted at our Riverside Park branch.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017 16:38

A Fondness for Fishing

One of my very first memories, from when I was three or four years old, was of me fishing with my dad. He had taken me camping up in the Chequamegon-Nicolet national forest. I remember only bits and pieces of riding in the truck, sleeping in a tent, and sitting around a campfire. But being out on a lake in the boat, that I remember quite vividly.

Thursday, 01 June 2017 12:10

2017 Summer Paddling Preview

Warm weather has arrived, and that means it's canoe and kayak season! If you missed this blog post when it was originally published in 2015, we think you'll find it's just right for inspiring visions of sunny days out on the water. Read on, and be sure to take a look at our full list of summer paddling programs after the post!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017 14:40

Paddle Sports Porter Service

Want to enjoy an afternoon paddle without having to stage cars and haul equipment? Our Paddle Sports Porter Service provides flexible launch and pickup options, complete gear outfitting, and the assistance of our knowledgeable staff – everything you need to have a fun, convenient excursion on the Milwaukee River!

downtown canoeingEnjoy a fun new view of downtown Milwaukee!

How Does it Work?

Available to contributing members of the Center who have taken our free Watercraft Lending Orientation (formerly known as the Water Safety Course), the Paddle Sports Porter Service lets you create a customized Friday or Saturday outing by selecting from our available options.

  1. First, register and reserve your desired watercraft from the available dates.
  2. Once you've registered, contact us at (414) 964-8505 to schedule your launch and return times.

    Launch Options:
    Pick up your boat and equipment at the Milwaukee Rowing Club Boathouse (1990 E North Commerce St). Schedule a launch time during one of the following blocks of time on the day of your reservation:
    • 10:00–11:30 AM
    • 1:00–2:30 PM

    Return Options:
    Paddle a bit or paddle a bunch – it's up to you! Tailor your outing by choosing a return time from the following four options:
    • 10:00–11:30 AM at the Rowing Club Boathouse
    • 1:00–2:30 PM at the Rowing Club Boathouse
    • 4:00–4:30 PM at the Rowing Club Boathouse
    • 3–3:30 PM from the public dock on the Menomonee River under N. Emmber Lane at Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful and returned to the Boathouse.
    Learn more about which option is best for you!
  3. Arrive on the day of your reservation at your scheduled launch time and the Urban Ecology Center staff will get you geared up and assist you in launching your boat.
  4. Enjoy paddling the Milwaukee River!

What does it cost?

The Canoe and Kayak Shuttle Service is available to Urban Ecology Center members and costs $15 dollars per boat.

Not a member but want to use the service? Join or renew today!

What's included?

  • Canoe or kayak
  • Paddles
  • PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices)
  • Dock rope
  • Dry bag
  • A ride back to the Boathouse if that option is selected
  • The assistance of an Urban Ecology Center staff person to help you launch your boat and answer any questions you might have about the route.

Photo by Chris Winters
Let us handle the gear and work of launching your boat! Photo: Chris Winters

How long is the paddle?

To paddle at a leisurely pace from the Rowing Club Boathouse to the harbor and back to the Boathouse is about 5 miles, and will take most people about 2.5–3 hours paddling non-stop. Be sure to build in extra time if you plan to stop to eat along the way at one of the many riverside restaurants, or to take a mid-paddle break and stretch your legs at Pere-Marquette Park.

Paddling time from the Boathouse to the pick-up location on the Menomonee River is about 3 miles and takes roughly 1.5–2 hours. Again, be sure to account for extra time in your trip if you plan to make any stops along the way.

What happens if I miss my return/pickup time?

The Urban Ecology Center staff running the shuttle will provide you with a phone number to call if you need assistance on the day of your paddle. Anytime during your paddle you can call to switch your desired return option. If you miss the last return time, we will still pick you up, but you will be assessed a $25 special pick-up fee.

What if there's inclement weather on the day of my reservation?

If there is moderate to heavy precipitation, high winds, or temperatures lower than 60 degrees on the day of your shuttle reservation, an Urban Ecology Center staff person will call you to cancel the shuttle for the day. You will receive a full refund if the shuttle is cancelled due to weather.

Collaborating with Menomonee Valley Partners, our branch is the hub of natural restoration and community. Some highlights include partnering with 19 schools, over 50 afterschool programs and 18 Summer Camps.

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Upcoming Events

Event Listings

Early Morning Birdwalks (Menomonee Valley)

Menomonee Valley

Tuesday, January 16th

8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

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ROOT - Riverside Park

Riverside Park

Tuesday, January 16th

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

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