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Ken Leinbach

Ken Leinbach

Ken is a nationally recognized educator and leader in community-based environmental education. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Urban Ecology Center. With his contagious energy, Ken speaks on a number of topics including: urban education, community organizing, environmental issues, finding abundance, the power of story, sustainable design, the need for "near-by" nature, leadership, fundraising, and green living. Ken holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Antioch College in Ohio, a Masters degree in Environmental Education from Prescott College in Arizona and received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Milwaukee Instituted of Art and Design.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 13:30

Introducing a Walk of 3 Billion Years

Studying nature is a great way to feel young…comparatively speaking, that is. There are trees that are hundreds of years old as well as turtle and bird species that can easily outlive the humans who care for them. The entire human race is like a newborn when compared to billion-year-old rocks. It’s mind blowing!

Thanks to a generous gift from the Franke family, we’ve created a way to explore this concept of time through nature. We’re proud to introduce a new treasure, a 3 Billion Year Walk through the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.

Monday, 02 May 2016 13:06

Our Piece of the Puzzle

Have you ever tried to put a puzzle together without looking at the picture on the box? You spend a lot of time trying to figure out if the blue piece is sky or water. Without the seeing the whole picture you don’t understand how that piece fits in.

I was reminded of this idea during a recent conversation with a well-meaning and inquisitive young man who was trying to understand what the Center was all about. “Why on earth are you in the city?” he asked. “I mean, what kind of nature can you find there?”

It was the best “wild ice” for skating that I have found in years. A vast expanse of smooth-as-glass clear ice made not by a Zamboni, but by Mother Nature herself. And perhaps the biggest surprise of all? This “secret gem” wasn’t some hidden lake up state, but it was right here, in the shadow of the US Bank building downtown. I’ve been here over 20 years now and I still keep finding the unexpected. This is why I LOVE living in Milwaukee.

Thursday, 31 December 2015 00:00

First Time Ever Experiences

The Urban Ecology Center is a place of “firsts” for many in our community. Some of our younger students see Lake Michigan for the very first time while walking on the sandy beach during one of our Summer Camps. Families have had their very first time ice skating on a cold day in Washington Park. Last winter we had visitors from Nepal who enjoyed their first sled ride down the hill in Riverside Park. A big perk that comes from working at the Urban Ecology Center is being part of those “firsts” – those times of wonder in the outdoors.

Monday, 26 October 2015 01:00

Do the Extra-ordinary!

Do you remember those little gift books you used to give as a kid? You’d spend hours, carefully creating hand-made “coupons” for someone special. The promise was to take an ordinary experience and add a little extra. One might say you’d do the dishes without complaining. Another would say you’d give your parents a hug or plan a movie night. They were fun to make and even more fun when redeemed ... well, except for the chores, but even those would change ordinary activities into extraordinary experiences as grownups would often join in to help.

Wednesday, 07 October 2015 00:00

Announcement: We Have Two New Directors!

It is with great excitement that I get to announce that the Urban Ecology Center has two new directors on staff! Jen (Feltz) Hense is our Director of Development and Jeff McAvoy is our Director of Marketing and Communications. These two fantastic individuals have joined the Leadership Team of the Center, meaning that they are helping to make key decisions and shape the future of the Urban Ecology Center.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

HKE MKE Wrap-up

Our first-ever fundraising hike, HKE MKE, was on Sunday September 20th and it was a fantastic event! Over 200 people of all ages came out on a beautiful day for our 2.5-mile hike through the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum and the Milwaukee River Corridor.

One of the longest running programs we have at the Urban Ecology Center is called River Connections. Through this program, students get right into the Milwaukee River in hip waders to test water quality at two locations – one urban, here in Riverside Park, and one rural, at Riveredge Nature Center. The students are amazed when, on occasion, the readings they find in the city are better than the rural readings. We teach them that this is due, in part, to the removal of the North Avenue Dam which allowed the river to flow free, cleaning itself.

This free flowing water is essential to river health, which is essential to our health.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 00:00

Take a Hike, Milwaukee!

One of my favorite things to do is be fully immersed in nature while hiking in the middle of the city. The fact that you can walk from a street full of houses into a beautiful green haven in a matter of moments is so amazing!

I love watching people’s faces their first time out hiking in one of the parks at our branches, especially those who have lived in Milwaukee all their lives but have never seen this natural side of their city. It’s great.

I’d like to invite you to take part in an urban nature hike with me!

Thursday, 30 April 2015 00:00

A Hawk, a Chipmunk and So Much More

“Look! Up there, high in the tree, perched on that branch,” an environmental educator directed his class of students to where a Cooper’s Hawk sat in a tree in Riverside Park.

Just moments before they spotted the hawk, a chipmunk had darted across the path in front of them. Out hunting for signs of spring, the class was thrilled at the sighting because chipmunks are hibernators and only awaken from their deep slumber when the weather warms just enough – a true sign of spring!

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