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By now you have probably heard about the Riverside Park Beaver. He’s been chewing down Milwaukee River Greenway trees since the summer of 2014, has been featured on local news segments, has been written about in social media and blog articles, and even became the star of our recent Earth Month grant-matching campaign. But, how much do you really know about this busy beaver? You might be surprised to learn that this species is much more complex than one might think.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 00:00

Looking Back On Our Earth Day of Service

Many thanks to all who dug in and made our recent Earth Day of Service event such a smashing success! After celebrating for the entirety of April, we capped off Earth Month on Saturday, April 25th with a city-wide day of giving back to the planet. We are overwhelmed with gratitude at the dedication and care that hundreds of community members demonstrated on this day. Enjoy this recap of our Earth Day of Service events!

This year, on my 43rd birthday, my husband gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Along with a beautiful map of Milwaukee County Parks, he agreed to visit all of the parks with me before my 44th birthday. That’s 142 parks in one year! How awesome is that?

The green scape of Milwaukee County is part of what I love about living here. At the point of writing this, we are only 8% into the year-long adventure. I could easily write a page about each park, the awe and magic of nature we’ve experienced, their natural attributes and the way people interact with them.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 00:00

The Importance of Paying Attention

Being an ecologist, in many ways, is about paying attention. In springtime, the Center is particularly good at this: the staff have their eyes and ears on high alert for that first jubilant trill of a Red-winged Blackbird or the first striped flash of a chipmunk that will let us know the wait for spring is over.

But the everyday observations are just as important as the “firsts.” That’s how we learn to understand the natural world and notice changes or needs arising in our own ecosystem.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 00:00

“Seeing” Nature

I was asked recently, “What is your philosophy of education?” This is a question I’ve explored many times throughout my years as an educator. Depending on the crowd, my answer brought warm smiles or a furrowed brow as some consider my philosophy a bit “dreamy” in this data-driven, standards-based era of education.

To me, a meaningful education is a journey of discovery, exploring the mystery and the magic of the world around us and within us. I had the joy of witnessing this outward and inward journey recently while observing two of our talented environmental educators in action.

Thursday, 30 April 2015 00:00

A Hawk, a Chipmunk and So Much More

“Look! Up there, high in the tree, perched on that branch,” an environmental educator directed his class of students to where a Cooper’s Hawk sat in a tree in Riverside Park.

Just moments before they spotted the hawk, a chipmunk had darted across the path in front of them. Out hunting for signs of spring, the class was thrilled at the sighting because chipmunks are hibernators and only awaken from their deep slumber when the weather warms just enough – a true sign of spring!

... and this year we (or rather, you) get to do it all; digging in dirt, helping with trail or rain garden maintenance, eating great food and discovering new things about the earth!

We've had a terrific Earth Month so far celebrating all the wonderful and important resources of our planet. Our Earth Month culminates with a city-wide, all-hands on deck Earth Day of Service, a time to give back, pitch in, and show the world a little love on Saturday, April 25. Come join us!

I have a confession. A part of me enjoyed when the Riverside Park beaver was a secret. I liked sneaking through the park examining tree trunks along the river for signs of beaver chewing. I enjoyed watching the progress of the chew on the large cottonwood that first revealed signs of the beaver. I enjoyed sharing the location of the tree with nature-loving volunteers and I entertained myself by photographing two of those volunteers with the last name "Beaver" kneeling next to the tree pretending to gnaw at the bark.

Friday, 06 March 2015 00:00

Not Just A Rock

The morning sunlight shimmered on the rippling surface of the river. It was a beautiful day in late fall as second graders hiked along the Menomonee Valley trails. The excitement of the kids grew as the trail got more and more covered by the trees. I realized that the border between them and the natural world had started to break down when I heard a few “wows” for a Blue Heron that flew by and a salmon going up the river to spawn. You could sense the connection one student had as she held an improvised walking stick.

Monday, 03 November 2014 00:00

From Fear to Understanding

I love fall! We begin a new school year with excited students, perfect sunny days and beautiful changing leaves. Fall is also when I get to teach a class that brings kids into the water to look for macroinvertebrates. It’s one of my favorite classes to teach.

The program begins with the students tucking in their shirts and climbing into waders to explore the Milwaukee River. We hand them kick nets and bins to hold the benthic invertebrates they find. As we head to the river, there is nervous excitement. It is fun to watch the first groups get their bearings in the water.

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Volunteer Papermaking

Riverside Park

Monday, December 11th

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

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Nature Rangers: Monday Series

Riverside Park

Monday, December 11th

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

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