It is the season of showy butterflies, buzzing cicadas, crackling grass hopper wings and CRIKT research. Nope, that is not a typo. CRIKT stands for “Citizens Researching Invertebrate Kritters Together” and this research team at the Urban Ecology Center is leading the nation in its approach to field ecological research. “Invertebrate Kritters” refers to the vast array of animals found in the insect, spider and mite categories. Because invertebrates impact people in a variety of ways: pollinating crops, decimating crops and invoking some of our greatest fears or senses of awe, they have been studied quite a bit over the years. So what sets CRIKT apart? It is WHO is involved and WHERE they work.
Looking to get some last minute service hours in before graduation? Want to give back to the community while having a great time? The Urban Ecology Center at Washington Park is the place for you! We are excited to have special opportunities for students who need to fulfill their service hours for graduation.
We are always excited to find new ways to connect high school students to the natural world. It is important to us that students have a place to go that is fun, safe and helps them gain skills that can lead to future success.
The thing I enjoy most about working at the Urban Ecology Center is the occasional unforgettable experience I get to share with volunteers. They don’t happen every day, but sometimes Mother Nature waves her wand at a precise second and a really special moment is created. I’ve seen volunteers cry in reverence to close natural experiences and I’ve experienced the pure magic of nature more times than should probably be allowed. But last week a trio of beat cops shared with me a moment that was surely conjured by the powerful mother herself.
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!
“Do you like animals? There’s a room filled with Wisconsin Animals and a S-L-I-D-E” our Saturday morning receptionist Sybil Rockwell said smiling.
“A what?!” said a visiting child. He begins to sound out the letters “S-L-I-D-E, sl-ide, slide”. “There’s a slide here!?” said the child excitedly.
"Your right!" answered Sybil, “Let’s go find it!”
This is just one example of the many unique interaction that our volunteer receptionists provide our visitors.
The front desk receptionists are a dedicated crew of volunteers that return week after week for a 2-3 hour shift. They play an important role for our operations and work towards our mission of ecological understanding and growing community.
... 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!
Our research program has two unique features: an urban habitat focus and the inclusion of volunteer citizen scientists.
The urban wilderness research and monitoring we do provides baseline data that allow us to track how our habitat improvements affect wildlife over time. We’re measuring the changes so others can replicate the results in other cities.
We are one of the leaders of an international movement to facilitate community-led research and monitoring. Our Citizen Science program focuses as much on the process of engaging community volunteers as it does on the research process itself. What this means is that everyone can contribute in a meaningful way to scientific research.
It's no secret, we couldn't get by without a little help from our friends. The friends I'm referring to are quite special, they are our volunteers! From helping out our Environmental Education classes, to restoring native habitats with our land stewardship team, to answering phones at all three of our branches, we rely on the dedication and enthusiasm our volunteers bring to the Urban Ecology Center.
To show how grateful we are for our volunteers' hard work, our staff comes together once a year to celebrate the accomplishments of our Centers and acknowledge the contributions our volunteers have made with a Volunteer Appreciation Party. And oh, what a party it was this year!
This story is one of gratitude, one I hope all our volunteers will have the chance to read. I share this story with you today because I feel so thankful for all that our volunteers do for the Center. If you are a volunteer, please feel free to share it with other volunteers!