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Displaying items by tag: Nature

If you asked someone to draw a flower, what would it look like? It would probably resemble a daisy, or maybe a tulip, right? What it wouldn’t look like is the strangely fleshy, three-pointed flower of Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense).

In that same drawing, the flower would probably be shown standing proudly erect, basking in the sunlight like the “day’s eye,” which incidentally is the origin of the word daisy. You probably wouldn’t draw a flower hidden under large leaves, slumping messily into the soil.

But wild ginger is not your typical flower. It doesn’t even have petals!

Have you ever been a tourist in your own town? Taking a stay-cation or planning day trips can be a great way to gain an even deeper appreciation for the jewels we have. My suggestion? Spend some time in Milwaukee County’s vast park system. You can start at our Riverside or Washington Park branches by going on a guided tour.

My husband and I recently completed a year-long local “tourist” adventure of learning, exploration and fun.

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?”

A potent odor in Three Bridges Park recently led us to a dead skunk lying next to the Menomonee River. It rested, amazingly intact, on a sewerage outflow pipe lightly covered in snow. Whether he was the victim of hypothermia, winter starvation or a ravenous hawk remained a mystery, but whatever the skunk’s demise, it was clear that two weeks after he had perished, his scent still lingered.

Our habitat restoration efforts and research projects really go hand-in-hand. As we restore the land, we discover more and more mammals, birds, insects and amphibians using our parks. Our studies also help to determine the number of native plant species we’ve added that have “taken root” and are continuing to grow. Here are just a few highlights you can find.

Last fall at Riverside Park, the research and community science department was hosting the Wisconsin DNR’s bat biologists for an evening of bat mist netting, when a gregarious little screech owl paid us a visit. As DNR biologist Paul White held the large group of participants enraptured with a live bat, a persistent whinny in the distance distracted those of us at the back of the group.

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.

Thursday, 31 December 2015 00:00

First Time Ever Experiences

The Urban Ecology Center is a place of “firsts” for many in our community. Some of our younger students see Lake Michigan for the very first time while walking on the sandy beach during one of our Summer Camps. Families have had their very first time ice skating on a cold day in Washington Park. Last winter we had visitors from Nepal who enjoyed their first sled ride down the hill in Riverside Park. A big perk that comes from working at the Urban Ecology Center is being part of those “firsts” – those times of wonder in the outdoors.

Friday, 26 June 2015 00:00

See For Yourself - Healing the Land

Protection and restoration of the land is an essential part of what we do. Through hands-on work, our Land Stewardship team and volunteers grow healthy native habitats in which animals and plants can thrive. These areas are also important to our environmental education programs. Plus they are a great place to explore the natural world! See for yourself how we are caring for the land.

Thursday, 25 June 2015 00:00

Lake Michigan Lessons

One of my favorite places to take school groups is Lake Michigan. It is such a valuable resource right in the backyard of our city. We use it in many ways to teach lessons to students. One lesson is that our drinking water comes from Lake Michigan. Another is the rock cycle, during which we collect different rocks at the “skipping stone beach.” Recently, my co-teacher Tory and I used the beach to teach 4th graders about glaciers and glacial landforms.

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