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Mike Larson

Mike Larson

Mike is a happily married man living with his family in Bay View. As a young child he spent days playing along the banks of the Rock River, fostering a love for nature which eventually led him to study biology and pursue a career with the Urban Ecology Center. He enjoys telling people everything he can about the Center through his role as the Visitor Services Manager. He hopes that the work he does can help make it possible for his two sons and other kids in Milwaukee to grow up with similar experiences to those he had as a child.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019 10:03

Riverside Park from the 1880s to 1985

Deep down, we share an intrinsic desire to be connected to a place. The most obvious of these connections is social; the human need to belong to a community. At the Urban Ecology Center, we pride ourselves on helping people connect to the ecology of a place, teaching others about the interconnections between the rivers, lakes, and ecosystems around which our human society thrives, hoping to foster an ethos of mutual benefit between ourselves and the land. However, a third, historical connection to a place exists as well. These connections are not always obvious, but the decisions our ancestors made certainly have an effect on us as they impacted the land and society in which we live.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 09:04

What is an environmental community center?

Environmental: the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time.

Community: an assemblage of interacting populations occupying a given area

Center: a building used as a meeting place for a particular group or having facilities for certain activities

Tuesday, 29 May 2018 08:44

An Intro to Bike Camping

I woke up in the morning to the sound of waves crashing against the shore on Rock Island, about 20 yards from my tent. I moved silently out of the tent so as not to disturb the sleep of my teenage son and stretched my muscles that were sore from yesterday’s bike ride. Enjoying the early morning quiet from my hammock, I reflected on the journey thus far... this was one of the most amazing camping trips I had ever taken, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the Urban Ecology Center.

Monday, 25 July 2016 16:37

Then and Now: Rails to Trails

On a regular basis I get to tell people the story of the Urban Ecology Center, and I love watching the way their eyes light up as I describe the transition that Riverside Park has gone through from beauty to decadence and back again in its 120 year history. So many groups have worked hard to make this transition possible, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016 00:00

More Skis, More Options, More Fun in the Snow!

Whenever I talk about my job at the Urban Ecology Center, I always mention three things:

  1.  The amazing work we do helping kids and adults get outside to enjoy nature and learn about science in an urban environment.
  2.  The awesome community of staff members and volunteers that I'm privileged to work with.
  3.  Our equipment lending benefit.
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 00:00

Share Your Adventure!

Last summer, my eight year old son Benjamin and I borrowed a tandem kayak from the Urban Ecology Center for an overnight camping trip on the Wisconsin River. Thanks to a shuttle service through the Wisconsin Canoe Company, we were able to park our car 18 miles downstream from our starting point. Our goal was to stop at one of the many sandbar islands on the Wisconsin River to pitch our tent and finish the trip in two days. In order to pump Benjamin up for the trip, I talked about our awesome adventure for weeks in advance… little did I know just how exciting it was going to be!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

Wisconsin Winter Wonderland Week

Winter is coming…and we can’t wait! Why spend 5 months of what feels like Wisconsin’s longest season* stuck indoors? The skis have been waxed, snowshoes checked, and sleds pulled out of storage. Winter Equipment Lending at the Urban Ecology Center is here!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 11:41

The Power of the Outdoors

We believe in the power of the outdoors. We believe that all work and no play makes us all a little dull and that the antidote for the monotony of routine is to go outside. We believe that paddling, biking, fishing, camping, hiking and/or playing outside are essential elements of a healthy lifestyle. We believe that nature is everywhere- even in the city- and that adventure can literally be found right in your backyard. We believe that fun doesn’t have to be expensive or accessible to only a few lucky people. We believe it so much that we can taste it as fresh as the spring air.  We can’t wait to get out of the office, home or car to stretch our legs. Are you with us? Then do we have a deal for you!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 16:56

Get Outside and Play: Winter Hike

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!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 09:42

Go Outside and Play: Camp

When I was in college, I took a course on physical geography as part of my general education requirements. Our course textbook covered various unique and interesting natural areas in the United States ranging from the canyon lands of Utah to the limestone caves of Kentucky, and we learned about the specific geographic confluences that formed these natural wonders. One day my classmates and I were bemused to find that we were studying glacial features in the exotic locale of Southeastern Wisconsin. Having lived in the area most of my life, I never really thought of kettles, eskers, moraines, and drumlins as being anything particularly special, but apparently, these features that formed as giant sheets of ice retreated across the landscape are relatively rare in the topography of the world, and we're lucky to have them.

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