Displaying items by tag: community science
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 14:33

Green Birding Challenge 2018


GBC 2018 web logo


Click here to register

Get outside, find all the birds you can and help others discover the birds, animals and insects around them. Gather your flock and join the Green Birding Challenge!

Help us raise funds for our Community Science program and provide students and the community opportunities to learn about birds and other members of the natural world. This unique fundraiser is our way of celebrating World Migratory Bird Day. Fossil fuel free bird counts are perfect for beginner to advanced level birders. 

In addition to promoting fossil fuel free birding, The Green Birding Challenge inspires friendly competition and encourages everyone to get outside to explore the wonders of resident and migratory birds in Milwaukee.

Green Birding Challenge participants try to spot the most birds (without using fossil fuels) to win!

Green Birding Challenge participants try to spot the most birds (without using fossil fuels) to win!

How to Participate

Gather a group and choose from the following three categories:

  • Soaring Eagle Challenge For serious/advanced birders
    Teams of two, three or four* compete for prizes in a 5-hour (full length) competitive challenge as either a mobile "migratory" team (walking, biking) or a "resident" stationary team (Big Sit).
  • Rockin’ Robin Challenge For less competitive advanced to beginning birders
     Teams of two, three or four* compete for prizes in a shorter, 3-hour challenge.
  • Fledgling Fun Challenge For families or novices who want to get outside, have fun and learn about birds
     Teams of two or more (10 person maximum) participate in a non-competitive, 2-hour mini-challenge with guided opportunities to learn about birds and participate in bird-themed quests for prizes.

*A fourth team member is allowed for Soaring Eagle or Rockin’ Robin if they are a beginner level birder.

Click here for descriptions and rules of the different challenge types

Choose your challenge and gather your flock whether you’re an experienced birder or just enjoy spending time outdoors with friends, the Green Birding Challenge has something for you!

BirdingChallenge 41

Green Birding Challenge participants from all ages


Click here for more info and to register


Special thank you to our sponsors whose generous support has helped make this event possible!



Weyco Group

CG Schmidt


Photo credit: Matt Unrau

Thursday, 01 February 2018 10:29

Our Water: Milwaukee's Mirror

WaterSeries web


A community science freshwater series. 

The Community Science Freshwater Series, Our Water, Milwaukee’s Mirror, gathers science experts, community leaders and local history tellers to share their experiences and perspectives on water issues in Milwaukee. Through these insightful presentations, guided conversations, and hands-on activities, we hope to engage our community members by exploring the fascinating and sometimes troubling history of water in Milwaukee, as well as explore the present pressing issues and hopeful opportunities to protect this common resource for future generations.

Most of the events are free of charge (donations are appreciated).


March - September 2018

IMG 3306

Milwaukee River

Schedule of Events

Click each title below for details about the different events.

The Sound of Water (March)

The Sound of Water - An Exploration of Music and Water will kick off the 2018 UEC Water Series and give participants a one of a kind experience to explore the ways sound and water interact. During this evening, participants will be able to move around the Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center at their own pace and enjoy beautiful music sessions all while learning more about the ever illusive, present and underappreciated resource of our water.

Musicians from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and science educators, will combine to provide a unique learning experience about the sounds of water. Additionally, participants who attend this event will receive a special discount code to see the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra perform “Become Ocean” on April 7th/April 8th.

$5 Members / $10 Non-Members

March 21st from 7-9pm in Riverside Park

Register Here

The Worth of Water - A Great Lakes Story (April)

The Worth of Water: A Great Lakes Story - Documentary Discussion (6pm-8pm at Riverside Park)

Last year, Alyssa Armbruster and Julia Robson set off on a 332-mile trek from the shores of Milwaukee to Lake Superior. Join us for a special preview of their upcoming documentary and discussion of their extraordinary journey to raise awareness for an essential element of life: water.

April 11th from 6-8pm in Riverside Park

Free for everyone

Lead in Our Drinking Water (May)

Thousands of homes in Milwaukee are impacted by lead exposure in the service lateral pipes. Our own State Senator LaTonya Johnson will give us her perspective on the lead crisis and steps we all can be taking to make Milwaukee a safe, just, and vibrant community by addressing lead exposure to our drinking water

May TBD in Washington Park


Tim Vargo, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

El Lago Michigan - Un ecosistema que perdió su equilibrio (May)

The Great Lakes, the largest body of freshwater on earth, is one of the most precious natural resources that we have on the planet. However, our reliance on the water and at times misuse or neglect of, has opened up a new wave of struggles for the many species of animals that call the Great Lake region home.

Dr. Carmen Aguilar from the School of Freshwater Sciences at UW-Milwaukee will present on her path to science and her passionate pursuit for understanding the body of water that we sometimes take for granted - Lake Michigan. This lecture will be presented in the spanish language.

Los Grandes Lagos, el sistema de agua dulce más grande del mundo, es uno de los recursos naturales más preciosa que tenemos en el planeta. Sin embargo, nuestra dependencia del agua y, a veces, el mal uso o descuido de, ha abierto una nueva ola de luchas para las especies nativas que llaman hogar a la región de los Grandes Lagos. La Dra. Carmen Aguilar de la Escuela de Ciencias de Agua Dulce de UW-Milwaukee presentará en su camino a la ciencia y su apasionada búsqueda por el entendimiento de la complicidad de este ecosistema que a veces damos por sentado: el Lago Michigan. Esta lectura será en español.

May TBD 6-7:30pm in Menomonee Valley


Dr. Carmen Aguilar

School of Freshwater Sciences

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

A Community Science Journey into the Lives of Macro-Invertebrates (May)

Join us for an evening of exploring macroscopic creatures that inhabit our water and provide the base of the food chain. Which creatures indicate good water quality for our rivers? Which are more tolerant to pollution? And what are some steps we can take to continue learning and protecting these important beings that live throughout our rivers? We will be accompanied by scientists who study these macro-invertebrates from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who will guide us along a journey of freshwater discovery.

May TBD 5pm in Riverside Park


Dr. Jerry Kaster

School of Freshwater Sciences

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

History of Water in Milwaukee Exhibit (June)

June 4th – 8th in Washington Park


Terry Evans, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Documentary Screening, “Milwaukee: A City Built on Water” (June)

The movie screening features historian John Gurda by exploring how the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan spurred Milwaukee's growth. Viewers will be taken on a chronological journey of Milwaukee’s hydrological systems: from settlers using rivers and Lake Michigan to transport grain, lumber, leather and beer to how the lower Milwaukee River was eventually reduced to an open sewer by 1900, with Lake Michigan suffering similar indignities.

June 7th at 5pm in Washington Park

Milwaukee, Water, Justice – STITCH and UEC Open Mic (June)

The STITCH Summer Open Mic Series began in 2009 and has been a space for youth and young adults and welcoming all generations and creative expressions. STITCH uses rotating venues throughout the summer, creating a movement of people who STITCH together our city and our communities through storytelling and self-expression.

This year the Urban Ecology Center is proud to host an open mic night with STITCH for a themed night on Water and Justice. Come listen, share, learn of the stories our friends, family and community have on water.

June TBD in Menomonee Valley


Alida Cardos-Whaley

Local to International: Water Challenges around the World (July)

The month of July will feature local Milwaukee professionals/scientists who actively engage in international water research and engineering work.

Please stay tuned to more information about the event.

Native Voices on Our Water (August)

In August, the Urban Ecology Center will feature Native American speakers in our community science freshwater event series. Come learn about the stories of peoples whose ancestors have called the Great Lakes home for centuries and their tireless work to celebrate, protect, and preserve these special waters.

Please stay tuned for more information about the speakers.

Stories of the Great Lakes (September)

Stories of the Great Lakes – A Conversation with Dan Egan

As the Community Science Water Series comes to a close, we invite the Milwaukee community to join in a conversation with one of Milwaukee’s most respected reporters on the Great Lakes, Dan Egan.

Dan is a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who has covered the Great Lakes since 2003. His latest achievement has been authoring the book The Death and Life of the Great Lakes. Participants will hear directly from Dan’s experiences writing the renowned book and give perspectives and insight surrounding the challenges and opportunities facing the Great Lakes.

September TBD in Riverside Park


Dan Egan, Environmental Reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Lake Michigan


Thanks to our Sponsors


FFLM logo UHuqdKUZ

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 10:17

Once you’ve read Fabre, you’re never alone

I’m not a professional scientist. But animal stories, biographies of scientists and works of natural history have always been my favorite reading material. Since childhood I’ve been nourished by the prose of ones who observe, measure and count; imagine and experiment. I still have natural history books I acquired as a child. One of them is Animal Behavior from the Life Nature Library series. It was published in 1965; presented as an introduction to what the editors of the time called the “infant science” of ethology. 

If you’re familiar with the term lifelong learning, the idea is that the desire to learn about the world remains strong with people who aren’t enrolled in a course at an institution of higher learning. Here at the Center we’ve previously offered college-level courses in Tropical Ecology and Plant Systematics, and now we’re excited to announce a course in Conservation Biology.

Thursday, 27 July 2017 10:15

A New Inhabitant In Riverside Park

Occasionally the Research and Community Science team has a find so cool that we can’t stop ourselves from sharing it. Back in 2006 I started a mammal monitoring project at Riverside Park to document the park’s population, and recently we recorded the most glorious find I have ever experienced at the UEC!

The Research and Community Science Program contributes important data to the study of urban wildlife. See below for our Annual Reviews of this work. If you'd like to help band birds, tag butterflies, track bats or conduct your own research project, please contact Tim Vargo, Manager of Research and Community Science, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




RACSAR 2015 Final web cover smaller


RACSAR 2014 Final 09162015


cit sci annual review


Annual Review 2012


Research and Citizen Science Annual Review 2011

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 15:42

Community Science

The Urban Ecology Center's Community Science Program serves as a meaningful bridge between academic research and the community-at-large. The program creates collaborative spaces for research between professional and community scientists and creates a more engaged, knowledgeable and ecologically literate community. The Center maintains a network of urban field stations in which all research is accessible to and advised by both community and professional researchers.

Community members conduct cutting-edge research, from studying the physiology and phenology of migrating birds to discovering the winter quarters of threatened snakes. Community Scientists monitor and research bats, bugs, plants, snakes, turtles, mice, people and a host of other critters!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 10:49

Community Science

I’ve always thought it a little strange that one of the most important identifiers we carry—our names—are usually given to us by someone else. Of course we can always choose to go by nicknames, middle names or change names completely.

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 16:43

Michigan: The Sunset Side 2017

Join the Urban Ecology Center for an Eco-travel adventure focused on exploring the sunset side of one of our greatest freshwater resources Lake Michigan!

Eco Travel MichiganSunset at Sable Lighthouse in Ludington State Park. Photo: Dan Chrenka

View the sunrise from the deck of the Lake Express ferry as we travel to Muskegon, Michigan to tour the diverse ecosystems, industries, and communities of the state's northwest Lower Peninsula before returning to Wisconsin aboard the National Historic Landmark ferry, the S.S. Badger.

Sights on our jounrey will include:

  • The industrial port city of Muskegon
  • Ludington State Park's renowned coastal ecosystems
  • Huron-Manistee National Forest and the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly habitat
  • The motor vehicle-free Main Streets and Gilded Age living of Mackinac Island
  • The steep sandy slopes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.


Sleeping Bear Dunes
Discover the surreal, wind-swept topography of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Photo: Bailiwick Studios


When: Saturday, August 19th through Friday, August 25th, 2017

Cost:  $1,800 per person ($2,325 for single occupancy room)


  • 7 day trip exploring the sunset side of Lake Michigan
  • 3 ferries on Lake Michigan (technically one is also on Lake Huron)
  • 6 nights of hotel accommodations (double occupancy)
  • 7 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (or Per Diem allowance)
  • Entrance fees to State Park, National Forest, National Lakeshore, and museums
  • Urban Ecology Center transportation throughout
  • Charming Urban Ecology Center guides who will worry about planning all the details—from guided excursions to getting you to historic Main Streets with time to explore on your own
  • Support for the Urban Ecology Center’s mission

Does not include: Alcohol and optional activities, such as during free time to explore Ludington State Park and Mackinac Island (e.g., carriage rides, bike rentals, high tea, additional tours).

A $500 mostly refundable deposit reserves a spot on the trip.

To learn more or to sign up, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


karner blue 2
Visit the habitat of the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) in Huron-Manistee National Forest.


Mackinac Island
Explore the preserved Victorian architecture of Mackinac Island. Photo: Brandon Bartoszek


Traverse City wine countryTour Michigan's oldest winery, the Grand Chateau Traverse during our visit to Traverse City.


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.

Page 1 of 2

Upcoming Events

Event Listings

Private Cross-Country Ski Lessons for Beginners

Riverside Park

Sunday, February 25th

9:00 AM - 7:00 PM

More Details...

Intermediate Cross-country Skiing Expedition to Brown Deer Park

Riverside Park

Sunday, February 25th

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

More Details...

Find event


Email Sign-Up

Which Emails would you like to receive?

Connect Now

facebook instagram twitter linkedin snapchat

Get Involved

Become a member today!

Copyright © 2016 The Urban Ecology Center. Website by Savvy Panda.