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Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Danny Pirtle
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Have you met Daisy? Daisy is one of the Urban Ecology Center’s ambassador box turtles. Specifically, Daisy is an ornate box turtle. She lives at Menomonee Valley and helps support our mission of introducing children and families to one of the amazing species of creatures with whom we share our natural habitats. While inside her tank, Daisy often buries herself into the substrate and can be hard to find. However, whenever our educators bring her out to share with students in their classes, Daisy is engaging and active, walking around the group and investigating each of the people that have come to learn about her.
Written by Tim Vargo
Tuesday, 19 November 2019
A few years ago I received a copy of John Gurda’s Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods as a birthday present.  I innocently and leisurely cracked it open and it was almost as if a spirit left the pages and drew me in because I literally could not put the book down and frankly, I became obsessed with local history.  Obsession phase one involved me pouring through all 466 pages of the book taking copious notes.  Phase two involved a meticulous analysis of the landscape wherever I went.  I sought out historic buildings and streets, looked for evidence of streetcars or buildings long gone, and tried to envision the pigs that once roamed the east bank of the Menomonee River in Pigsville. …
Written by Julee Mitchell
Thursday, 14 November 2019
Thanksgiving is the busiest time of year for travel in the United States. Last year, over 50 million Americans traveled on average 50 miles to reach their Thanksgiving destination, and nearly 90% was by automobile. But, people aren’t the only ones logging in the miles. American food travels an average of 1,500 to 2,500 miles from farm to table, according to the Worldwatch Institute.
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Saturday, 02 November 2019
We are excited to share this special piece by Urban Ecology Center (UEC) Board Director Dennis Grzezinski. Dennis has been volunteering at the UEC almost since its inception and has had a huge role in getting us to where we are today. We are proud of his accomplishments and thrilled that he continues to be such a strong UEC advocate. Dennis was our pick for Volunteer of the Month in November 2019. We often ask our volunteers to list the experiences they've had at UEC and he wrote the article below that is part autobiography, part UEC history, and completely heartwarming. Thank you, Dennis, for everything you do!
Written by Mike Larson
Tuesday, 29 October 2019
Of all my childhood experiences, waking up before sunrise to go fishing with my grandfather still holds a vivid place in my memory. My grandparents would pick me up from my house and take me up to Chetek, WI to go fishing for a week-long trip. We would stay at a humble fishing resort and I would share a pull out bed with my cousins who lay sleeping soundly while I quietly rose and put on warm clothes to go out alone on the boat with my grandpa. I always wanted to fish for northern pike or some other monstrous fish, and my grandpa would humor me and let me just keep casting over and over until I grew bored,…
Written by Ashley Alred
Wednesday, 23 October 2019
Cool September mornings on the prairie are ripe with beauty and activity: grasses towering, swaying overhead in the light autumn breeze, goldenrod with its tiny intricate blossoms, and asters popping in vibrant hues of purple, white, and blue. Insects busily soak up the last fruits of fall before winter’s frost. Meanwhile, boisterous high school sophomores rush up and down the paths winding through the prairie, combing the grasses and flowers with giant sweep nets in search of insects. This peaceful prairie teeming with diverse plant and insect life—nestled in the heart of urban Milwaukee—has become an outdoor classroom for teenagers embarking on an important school project.
Written by Tory Bahe
Thursday, 17 October 2019
I stopped to talk to Carol, the Tuesday afternoon receptionist at Riverside Park, on my way in from teaching. Carol is so lovely; I’ve really enjoyed getting know her over the years via a mutual love of reading and traveling, and I always look forward to our Tuesday chats. Today she offered to lend me a great book she’d just finished and I told her about the snake I’d found on a hike this afternoon. After I returned to my office, the phone started ringing.
Written by Davita Flowers-Shanklin
Wednesday, 09 October 2019
We are so excited for fall in the Volunteer Department, not just because we get a lot of awesome fall volunteers, but because fall means it is almost time for the Volunteer Appreciation Party! We spend the fall reflecting on the past year as an organization, and we especially love to think about how truly amazing our Volunteers are. As many of you know, the Urban Ecology Center was started by a group of volunteers and because of this, volunteers are integrated into every part of what we do. We have volunteers helping by leading programs, be with school groups or with research and community scientists. Volunteers help on our land by picking up trash, planting native species, mulching trails,…
Written by Erin Ganzke
Monday, 30 September 2019
Autumn is here and so is the craving for new fall decorations! My grandmother and I share a love for crafting and taking on as many DIY (do-it-yourself) projects as we can. We especially enjoy projects involving the changing seasons and nature because we are always trying to bring nature inside to bring life into our homes and to our projects. In today’s world, it is easy to get wrapped up in the purchasing of new autumn decorations at the store every year because you have an autumn fever, but keep in mind that a materialistic mindset does not support a sustainable lifestyle.
Written by Lynn Anders
Thursday, 12 September 2019
Autumn is knocking, summer vacations are in the rearview mirror and we are preparing for the school year ahead and our Neighborhood Environmental Education Project (NEEP) for schools. While students are thinking about homework and teachers are creating lesson plans, we are in full-gear preparing for tons of outdoor experiences, nature play and educational fun! Excitement for new connections NEEP is a partnership program. We partner with schools within a 2-mile radius of our branches to provide multiple field trips per year. Students have multiple trips, sometimes for multiple years, to learn in and connect to the land in the green spaces we use as “outdoor classrooms.” In addition, our Educators work closely with teachers to ensure that our programming…
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