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Displaying items by tag: Volunteer

Our research program has two unique features: an urban habitat focus and the inclusion of volunteer community 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 Community 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!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 00:00

A Story of Gratitude

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!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00

Become a Super Fixer at Riverside Park

Do you like DIY projects? Are you a seasoned mechanic or carpenter looking for a new challenge? Are you lacking skills but big on enthusiasm? Whether expert or novice, we have a new opportunity for you! 

This fall, we are starting a regularly scheduled volunteer opportunity at our Riverside Park branch called Fixin’ Facilities. It is a great way to hone your skills or learn new ones as you work with others and help the Center.

Thursday, 03 July 2014 00:00

From Visitor to Ambassador

One of the best things about being an organization focused on mentoring is that we get to experience both sides of mentoring, and we get to watch “mentees” become “mentors.” I’ve had three great experiences recently watching the transition from “visitor” to “ambassador” and I thought I’d share them:

Everyone, no matter their age, can teach, help and learn at the Urban Ecology Center! See for yourself how older adults through teens are mentoring Summer Campers and students who will in turn be the environmental leaders of tomorrow.

Research shows two things make a person environmentally aware – constant contact with nature early in life and a mentor who demonstrates positive behavior toward the environment. With this research in mind, we train interns to be mentors to high schoolers, who in turn become mentors to our Summer Campers.

Come in today to see how your whole family can learn, work and grow at our Center. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014 15:00

Oh What Changes We Have Seen!

Once upon a time there was a ‘double wide’ parked under a tree in a corner of Riverside Park near the high school.  It was an ‘office’ and classroom meeting space.  What was it called? “Riverside Urban Ecology Center” and it housed a staff of 1 and ½, both part time.   A board made up of highly dedicated community people had been working toward the goal of establishing such a center and called on the science staff at the high school to be among the first consultants.

When I was first hired as an Environmental Educator seven years ago the Washington Park branch was just getting started. I had spent the last four years teaching in a variety of environmental education centers where my outdoor classroom had been a forest.

My new outdoor classroom was not a forest but a city park that had a lagoon with a very distinct “stinky end,” some nicely spaced trees and grass. All I could see were the challenges in not having decomposing logs to roll over, undergrowth to play camouflage or a gully of rocks; in short, all the things I was used to having when teaching a class.

I came to the Center two and a half years ago as a summer camp intern. As my role has changed from environmental educator to volunteer coordinator and community health evaluation coordinator, I have found myself reflecting on a question that has repeatedly come up in the various roles I’ve held: What is environmentalism?

It didn’t take long in my role as an educator to notice that how I engaged with nature wasn’t universal. Activities I loved as a child, like catching bugs or sitting quietly in the woods or playing in snow, while appreciated by some, could be terrifying, disgusting or down right boring to some of my students.

Saturday, 26 October 2013 08:21

What’s Happening at Washington Park

With the big events that have been happening in Riverside Park and in the Menomonee Valley, it’s easy to lose track of the fantastic things happening at Washington Park. To catch everyone up, I thought it best to check in with some of the folks who are helping to make it all happen.

Tim Vargo, bird magnet and Manager of Research and Community Science, had this to say about a wonderful tradition he leads every Wednesday morning:

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Private Cross-Country Ski Lessons for Beginners

Riverside Park

Sunday, February 25th

9:00 AM - 7:00 PM

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Intermediate Cross-country Skiing Expedition to Brown Deer Park

Riverside Park

Sunday, February 25th

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

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