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Displaying items by tag: Impact
Monday, 02 May 2016 13:06

Our Piece of the Puzzle

Have you ever tried to put a puzzle together without looking at the picture on the box? You spend a lot of time trying to figure out if the blue piece is sky or water. Without the seeing the whole picture you don’t understand how that piece fits in.

I was reminded of this idea during a recent conversation with a well-meaning and inquisitive young man who was trying to understand what the Center was all about. “Why on earth are you in the city?” he asked. “I mean, what kind of nature can you find there?”

Wednesday, 02 March 2016 16:43

Expand Your Culinary Options: Ask a Farmer

When I was a freshman in college, my Saturday running path led me right past a farmer’s market. Each week I observed patrons in the market, coffee cups in hand, canvas bags hanging on their shoulders, conversing with friends, neighbors or farmers, seemingly having a pleasant time.

This was my first impression of the connection people could have to really fresh food. At that time in my gustatory path, I ate uninspired dorm food – cereal at least two meals a day, some over-steamed vegetables and iceberg lettuce salads.

When my dorm time ended I had to make culinary choices for the first time in my life.

Last summer the Urban Ecology Center held its first Engineering for Kids Summer Camp for third and fourth graders. The entire experience at this camp completely exceeded my expectations. The campers built a raft with their own hands out of recycled wood, inner tubes, ropes and milk jugs and on their last day of camp they embarked on a big adventure - gliding their raft down the Menomonee River.

I felt intimately connected to this project as it reminded me of my childhood. My friends and I used to build rafts with driftwood in the Alagón River Reservoir, Spain. It was a passion I could share with my campers.

Thank You! You really did make the impossible POSSUMble! Your support helps youth and adults explore, learn, grow, work and play outdoors. Together we’re making a positive change, neighborhood by neighborhood. See for Yourself how you supported the Urban Ecology Center during our 2015 Fall Fund Drive.

Sometimes making the impossible possible just takes a little confidence and ingenuity. Just ask the class of students with visual impairments who spent time exploring Riverside Park and the lakefront with Urban Ecology Center Educators Matt Flower and Regina Miller.

While learning about nature and the environment, all of the students who participate in the Urban Ecology Center's school programs are expected to participate in every way regardless of ability. It's the Center's mission to connect people to nature in part because of the fresh perspective getting outside can provide. In the case of these students, they knew deep down that "Mr. Flower and Ms. Regina" believed that they could do anything and should try everything.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 00:00

Welcome Home: Jordan's Impossible Made Possible

Skipping school, dodging the Riverside Park branch manager and free snacks leads to a home away from home…the perfect recipe for an “Impossible made Possible” at the Urban Ecology Center!

Jordan first came to the Urban Ecology Center in middle school on a Neighborhood Environmental Education Project fieldtrip. He remembers Mr. Flower coming and picking up his class in the busses and how cool it seemed to hang out in the woods. When he became a 9th grader at Riverside University High School, he realized that the Center’s Riverside Park branch was right across the field from his new school. He could come and visit afterschool!

Thursday, 29 October 2015 01:00

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.

“An oasis in a city to learn about nature and teach kids about nature.”

This is what one community forum participant said about our Menomonee Valley branch when asked how he would describe the Urban Ecology Center to a friend. Another said “It is a place to have fun and laugh.” And when asked about challenges we can help address in the neighborhood, we heard that we should continue to “increase safety along the bike path,” provide more “options for kids in the neighborhood,” and perhaps add programs to help address “balanced nutrition … Kids eat unhealthy foods.”

Monday, 26 October 2015 01:00

Do the Extra-ordinary!

Do you remember those little gift books you used to give as a kid? You’d spend hours, carefully creating hand-made “coupons” for someone special. The promise was to take an ordinary experience and add a little extra. One might say you’d do the dishes without complaining. Another would say you’d give your parents a hug or plan a movie night. They were fun to make and even more fun when redeemed ... well, except for the chores, but even those would change ordinary activities into extraordinary experiences as grownups would often join in to help.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 00:00

Outdoor Awesomeness

Being outside is awesome because there is something for everyone. This was perfectly illustrated on a camping adventure with the Menomonee Valley Young Scientists Club this past summer. We packed two buses full of tents, sleeping bags, food and ourselves and drove up to Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary for our first Young Scientists and parents camping trip. Camping was a new experience for many, so we planned to do the basics like preparing dinner over a fire, telling stories and exploring the woods at night. But perhaps the best parts of the whole trip were the things that had not been planned.

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