We know there are bats in Riverside Park. Hike a trail at dusk and you may see a Big Brown Bat fly overhead or even hear a few chirps if a bat is closing in on its prey. Because of their nocturnal aerial habits, bats make very difficult study subjects. But recent technological advances are allowing us more detailed glimpses into the habits and distribution of Wisconsin’s bats, including those in Riverside Park.
I biked in to work in an absolutely fabulous mood. No particular reason, just enjoying life. So I'm riding along lost in my thoughts, meditating in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way on a friend who is depressed.
If he could just find his passion, I thought, or a new passion then maybe it would bring purpose to his life. There seems to be a definite connection between purpose and passion. Perhaps the meaning of life is to find one's purpose and that one finds purpose through exploring one's passions ... Hmmm. Suddenly another "P" word came to mind, presence.
In December 2003, 14 intrepid travelers embarked on a long-remembered journey. Their destination was Costa Rica, a land of majestic natural beauty, smiling faces and the occasional near hurricane-force winds. At the risk of sounding cliché, words can’t describe the incredible breadth of Costa Rica’s biodiversity, the warmth of the Tico (local) people, or its striking topography. Our group truly embodied the motto of Costa Rica - Pura Vida/Pure Life! - and lived life to the hilt throughout the 10 day tour.
There is so much to share but let's start with the following journal excerpt, culled from pages submitted by trip participant Pat Mueller, which offers a glimpse of one of the more memorable experiences:
"Who would have thought just a decade ago, when we were still in our double-wide trailer, that our "Milwaukee Idea" of solving a social problem in a park with kids' education and the magical connection to nature would have the kind of national impact we are experiencing today? I certainly never did, but I am humbled and proud to represent Milwaukee and our simple yet profound idea. And isn't it cool that this idea evolved here in a Midwest industrial town? This is not Portland, Oregon, Boulder, Colorado, San Francisco, Boston or New York. Somehow this adds credibility to our story."
I started working at the Center on the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2007. There were a lot of things that impressed me during my first week, but one that sticks out in my mind were the bikes that were parked outside of the building that cold November day. Apparently, despite the below freezing temperatures and threat of snow, some of the staff had chosen to bike to work instead of driving their cars.
Eight year old Sammy has just found a soft-shelled turtle along the Milwaukee River. It is visible only because it was startled when the group of summer campers came just close enough to this very well-camouflaged Riverside Park resident for it to make a run for the more protective waters.
Sammy calls to his new friend, John, saying “Look at this turtle. What a weird nose!” The two excitedly watch as the turtle looks back for a moment then dives into the river. They giggle a little as the carapace disappears under the surface of the water.
Do you love the outdoors and want to share that same passion with your children? The Urban Ecology Center’s Summer Camps may be just what you’re looking for!
Campers will enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, games and songs. In just one week they will get the chance to go hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, fishing and swimming at the beach! Older campers will also get the chance to kayak, bike and go on an overnight camping trip. Your children are bound to find something they’ll love!
It was a muddy day in the woods. The snow that had piled up all winter was melting, making it a perfect day to study the tracks that animals had left behind in the mud. One particularly excited 2nd grader, Kayana, was anxious to find any track she could. As she ran off the trail in search of more signs that animals had made, I asked her to come back to the group. Clearly disappointed that I had stopped her investigation, she yelled back “But I’m in the woods- I’m s’posed to explore!”
“Urban Ecology Center, this is Dan” came a voice over the radio on Beth’s desk.
“Dan, this is Beth. Ken and I are meeting right now, how can I help you?"
“Sorry to bother you, but I’m in the bus awaiting the kids from Golda Meir. I’m teaching about the water cycle and I can’t remember exactly how many pennies I need for the third grade Water, Water Everywhere bus ride activity? Can you look it up for me?”
“No worries, hold on a second.” Sitting at her computer, Beth immediately got on our server, looked in the school program folder and quickly found the activity.
"Uh uh. We ain’t going. We wanna go to gym!” What a way to start a class. We thought they’d be happy to see us. After all we were about to take them away from school to play and learn in the snow (and even slip in a little sledding). Who wouldn’t want to do that? This class, apparently. In fact, when we showed up at their room and asked if they were going on a field trip, they tried to convince us we were in the wrong room! Things did not start well, but we were confident that we could corral these seventh grade stallions.