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Beth Heller

Beth Heller

Senior Director of Education and Strategic Planning, Beth received her Masters in Business Administration from UW-Milwaukee in 2005, where she received the Outstanding Business Plan award for a plan to launch a branch of the Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park. She graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in 1994 with a B.A. degree in Biology and Education. Beth began working at the Urban Ecology Center in 2000 to combine her love of the city with her appreciation of nature. Beth loves to sail, bike, sing and hike.

Thursday, 30 June 2016 12:23

CRIKT and You

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.

Have you ever been a tourist in your own town? Taking a stay-cation or planning day trips can be a great way to gain an even deeper appreciation for the jewels we have. My suggestion? Spend some time in Milwaukee County’s vast park system. You can start at our Riverside or Washington Park branches by going on a guided tour.

My husband and I recently completed a year-long local “tourist” adventure of learning, exploration and fun.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015 00:00

The Intersection of Ecology and Art

“I realized I truly wanted to study ecology – a seed that was planted during my time at [the Urban Ecology Center] but took a few years to sprout.”

This is the opening line of an email from a former High School Outdoor Leader, Robby Friedlen, to Riverside Park Branch Manager, Jamie Ferschinger. He was eager to share the reason behind his decision to shift his research studies to “the intersection of ecology – through the lens of permaculture – and the arts.” As a High School Outdoor Leader in 2009, Robby spent a portion of his summer working with internationally known artist Roy Staab.

“An oasis in a city to learn about nature and teach kids about nature.”

This is what one community forum participant said about our Menomonee Valley branch when asked how he would describe the Urban Ecology Center to a friend. Another said “It is a place to have fun and laugh.” And when asked about challenges we can help address in the neighborhood, we heard that we should continue to “increase safety along the bike path,” provide more “options for kids in the neighborhood,” and perhaps add programs to help address “balanced nutrition … Kids eat unhealthy foods.”

This year, on my 43rd birthday, my husband gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Along with a beautiful map of Milwaukee County Parks, he agreed to visit all of the parks with me before my 44th birthday. That’s 142 parks in one year! How awesome is that?

The green scape of Milwaukee County is part of what I love about living here. At the point of writing this, we are only 8% into the year-long adventure. I could easily write a page about each park, the awe and magic of nature we’ve experienced, their natural attributes and the way people interact with them.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 00:00

Welcome Terry!

The Urban Ecology Center is delighted to welcome Terrence (Terry) Evans as the Center’s new Branch Manager for our Washington Park branch. Terry brings with him 19 years of nonprofit experience, nearly a decade of which has been in leadership roles in Milwaukee. Specializing in youth development, job training and community organizing, he looks forward to focusing those talents in the Washington Park neighborhood.

Friday, 09 January 2015 00:00

Finding Inspiration in Washington Park

“I want to feel safe, a sense of comfort.”

“I want to come to a place where I can just be who I am.”

“I want to know that my sisters are safe.”

All of these comments came from teens responding to the question “How do you want to feel when you come to the Urban Ecology Center?” During the second half of 2014, we had nearly 80 people attend community forums and listening sessions in Washington Park, almost half of whom were children or teens. The quotes above came from youth who understand how important it is to have a place in their community where they can relax, unwind and just be.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 01:00

We’re in it Together

It was a crisp autumn day - perfect for a bicycle commute - and I was using my lunch hour to pedal between the Center’s branches. Zipping downhill on Highland Boulevard toward MillerCoors, I hit a big bump that popped my chain out of gear, jamming it so that the pedals would no longer crank. I coasted to a stop and within a few seconds was surrounded by three Harley-Davidson-attired gentlemen. Before I could utter a greeting, one asked if they could help. I nodded yes and within 30 seconds the chain was back in place.

Monday, 25 August 2014 00:00

Celebrating the Journey

He first arrived at the Urban Ecology Center as a guest presenter who shared the story of his solo 61 day wilderness trip tracing the steps of Charles A. Sheldon through the back country of Denali on the 100th anniversary of Sheldon’s trek. Shortly thereafter, Willie Karidis was hired at our Washington Park branch. Five years later Willie is returning to Alaska where, tapping into his deep appreciation for nature, wilderness and the depth of the human spirit, he will be the Chief Operating Officer of the world famous, 1049 mile Iditarod dogsled race!

Friday, 27 June 2014 00:00

More Than a Pretty Place

“This is important work. More than that – this work has allowed me to realize the value I internally place on nature, play and children’s health. It has taken me back to growing up as one of only three families living around a small lake we now fondly refer to as “Walden.” It has allowed me to formalize my understanding of how nature’s loose parts had a great influence on my play as a child, and also on the value I place on environmental protection and nature engagement as an adult."

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