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Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Ken Leinbach
Friday, 27 December 2013
I knew the call would come eventually, I was just hoping it would take a little longer to happen. When it did come, however, I was incredibly thankful that it left an opening and was not final. “Ken, we’ve decided that we need to sell the property and have some interested buyers who have offered some very attractive numbers to us,” she said, “however, we’d love it if there was a way for the Center to have it. We cannot give it away but we might be able to give you time. How long do you think you would need to make a run for it?”
Written by Jamie Ferschinger
Thursday, 26 December 2013
Of all of the things the Native Americans have contributed to society, I think one of the most important is the tribe. Based on kinship, orally communicated customs and rituals and commonly shared values and beliefs, people within the tribes are attuned to others in the group and often work toward shared goals (e.g. food, shelter, healthcare, raising children, etc). They are also each others’ support network. It’s a social construct that has worked for thousands of years.
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Elise Wirkus is one determined young lady! “I want to make progressive environmental change more approachable to people. I want to be the person people think of when they decide to recycle or to compost, or even something as big as choosing a more complicated, but more environmentally sound business plan.” Now a junior at UW-Madison, Elise is double majoring in Environmental Studies and Legal Studies, with the intention of going to law school someday, and eventually working on behalf of the environmental issues and causes that have become sincere passions of hers.
Written by Jennifer Callaghan
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
What?! No article about prancing reindeer or beautiful red cardinals?! I know, I know, but hear me out. I wanted to recognize an animal this month that we don't necessarily see in the winter, yet is living right under our feet. You may not see the woodchuck around this time of year, but he is still there fighting the good fight, hiding inconspicuously beneath the ground's surface. And hey, perhaps Santa wouldn't have needed Rudolph to guide him through the dark if his sleigh had been tethered to 8 mighty woodchucks instead of 8 tiny reindeer. But, I digress. Happiest of holidays to you all. Now, just imagine the woodchuck with a tiny jingle bell collar and glittery snow sprinkled…
Written by Beth Heller
Monday, 23 December 2013
Can you believe it’s been only seven years since we hired our first staff member to start up our Washington Park branch? The growth there has been amazing! With the start of a new year, we, like many of you, are reflecting on the past and thinking about our plans for the year ahead. These two perspectives, hindsight and anticipation, seemed like the best way to give an update on our Washington Park branch! Wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It all started with...
Written by Anne Reis
Thursday, 19 December 2013
Did you know that the Urban Ecology Center collects data throughout our three parks to help us understand the impact of our work on making parks safe, accessible and ecologically vibrant for people living in the community? In the fall of 2012, a UW-Milwaukee undergraduate research intern devised a park use survey protocol to help estimate attendance and assess the types of activities people engage in when they visit the parks near our branches. Our park use surveys compare park use from branch to branch, season to season, and year to year. Data is collected on a seasonal basis, for every day of the week during different times of the day.
Written by Kim Forbeck
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
What an odd name… witch-hazel. What does it mean? Well, some folks think the leaves look similar to the hazelnut shrub’s leaves, hence the “hazel” portion of the name. But, why “witch”? There are several possibilities. The pliable branches of the witch-hazel have been used as divining rods to search for water, also called water witching. Or it could be for the Old English “wych” which means pliable, as in the English wych elm with its bendable branches. My favorite explanation is this: When witch-hazel seeds mature in the fall they explode out of the fruit in distances of up to 25 feet away! When people would walk through the woods in the fall, they would be startled by the…
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
If you visit the Menomonee Valley branch at the Urban Ecology Center on a Tuesday or Thursday, you’ll be enthusiastically greeted by either Carlos Vazquez or Gustavo Mayorga at the reception desk. These two 16 year-olds know just about as much about the Urban Ecology Center as any of our staff, but you might be surprised to find out that they are volunteer interns from Carmen High School of Science and Technology. In fact, when you see them at the Center, they’re actually in school! Carlos and Gustavo are both juniors, and in their sophomore year, they were selected for the school’s internship program. Now they spend one day a week volunteering at a local business or organization with the…
Written by Mike Larson
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
When I ask outdoor enthusiasts what they like about the winter, they frequently list their favorite adventure sports: skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, etc. Often I’ll hear a comment along the lines of “the winter weather here is terrible - except that I get to go skiing!” Unfortunately, as the last couple of years have taught us, winter sports that require snow aren’t much fun if it doesn’t snow. What’s an outdoor enthusiast to do if it doesn’t snow significantly until January, or even at all? Or, if you’re not in to the more adventurous sports, does that mean you should stay indoors all winter? Certainly not! This year, I’ve found another way to get outdoors in the cold: take a hike!
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Tuesday, 03 December 2013
Eight years ago, Shorewood resident Ann Brummitt was teaching her 20th year of high school French, helping students conjugate verbs, and interpret French literature and history. While she enjoyed being an educator, she felt the need to make a change in her life and her career. "I wanted to be an environmental activist." After a long conversation with Executive Director Ken Leinbach about finding a project she could dig her hands into, Ann started volunteering at the Urban Ecology Center.

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