Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Urban Ecology Center
Friday, 26 March 2021
We have all been and continue to be affected by the ongoing pandemic and the new lifestyle and norms that have come with it. Children have been uniquely challenged in this respect - they have had to adapt to learning virtually, away from their peers, and the structure a typical school environment provides. This last year, more than ever, getting children outdoors and in nature was critical. The Urban Ecology Center made this possible by hosting several safe Summer Camp programs for kids of varying ages and interests. Children who attended last year’s camps were able to reconnect to the constants that are nature, friends, and community during a time filled with so much uncertainty.
Written by Chad Thomack
Friday, 26 March 2021
I wake to temperatures in the single digits; wind blowing, snow covering the streets. It is the end of January so this weather is fitting. As I sip my hot coffee gazing out the window I think of all the winter campers and what the day will bring for them. For me, it brings cross country skiing, one of my favorite outdoor sports. I lace up my boots, throw on a fleece, full face mask, and waterproof gloves. The sun is rising and the moon is setting as I glide through the woods and down to the lake. Every time I ski I am surprised how little I feel the cold.
Written by Michaela Rosenthal
Thursday, 25 March 2021
Many of you venturing outside through the Milwaukee parks this spring may see various aquatic life- fish and frogs –floating rather than swimming at the surface of the park ponds.  This is known as “winterkill”. 
Written by Davita Flowers-Shanklin
Monday, 22 March 2021
Spring is officially here and with that comes new life, the sun, and Earth Day (April 22nd)! It is hard to believe that this time last year we were gearing up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day at all three of our centers. Because of the pandemic, and wanting to keep everyone safe, we decided to cancel our celebration. Not only was canceling sad for us, but it also was sad for you! Truthfully, the hundreds of volunteers that usually come for Earth Day were missed tremendously at all three of our locations. We missed the hundreds of pounds of trash pulled out of our parks and waterways, we missed the piles and piles of invasive species being…
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Monday, 08 March 2021
The vernal equinox is upon us! And with it, comes longer days, shorter nights, and (eventually) warmer temperatures. March 20th officially marks 2021’s first day of spring when the hours of daylight and night are roughly equal. This makes sense, given the Latin roots to this event’s name; “equi” stemming from “equal,” and “nox” stemming from “night”: “equality of night and day.” From here, the days will continue to grow longer until the summer solstice on June 21st - the longest day of the year. For this reason, the spring equinox often represents new life and new beginnings as the light overtakes the dark. After months of cold and snow, when many animals hibernate and plants senesce, life returns.
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Thursday, 04 March 2021
Early spring brings us more than just sorely missed warmer temperatures with more daylight. It’s a “goldilocks zone” where the snow has melted but the trees' leaves don’t yet shade the ground. For a short period of time, when conditions are just right, spring ephemerals begin to bloom. Ephemeral - describing something as transitory or lasting for a short period of time - in this case, refers to the curious spring wildflowers we only see briefly each year around this time.
Written by Rob Dragani
Tuesday, 02 March 2021
Spring is right around the corner, and it’s one of the most fun times of the year for phenology. As the snow melts and plants start sprouting, you can almost feel spring approaching in the air. Some animals, such as the Eastern chipmunk and the Blue Spotted Salamander, are waking up from their winter slumbers while others are returning from their annual southern migrations. Each year, we at the Urban Ecology Center have a staff competition to see who can observe the first Red-winged Blackbird at one of our parks. The males migrate back to the area in late winter, followed by the females a few weeks later. You could even beat our staff this year! Listen for their characteristic…
Written by Mike Larson
Thursday, 25 February 2021
As a white man in a managerial role, I recognize that I have a limited scope of experience when it comes to discussing issues of racial justice and how it relates to our work at the Urban Ecology Center. I also recognize that too often white voices have remained silent on these issues when we should have spoken up, and so on the occasion of the official release of our organizations Equity, Dignity, & Justice Anti-Racism Action Statement I’m humbly offering these reflections to add another voice to the chorus of Black and Brown voices that we all should be listening to with greater sincerity.
Written by Rob Dragani
Thursday, 18 February 2021
The mink is a squirrel-sized member of the mustelid family that includes the otter, wolverine, badger, fisher, and other weasels. Also, a member of this family is their domesticated European cousin, the ferret. Like the otter, the mink is an excellent swimmer, rarely seen far from water. Also like otters, minks are particularly playful and extremely curious. Like many weasels, they like to enter and travel through burrows and cavities but rarely dig their own. Minks have extremely fast metabolisms and are seldom seen sitting still, constantly looking for their next meal. They are such effective hunters that they will frequently “cache” their kills and save them for later. Caches have been found with as many as 50 fish stored.…
Written by Madeline Karian
Thursday, 18 February 2021
As member of an organization that is striving to actively be anti-racist, I feel it’s more important than ever to both learn and celebrate Black history. To cut to the chase, I am a white woman and I don’t believe it’s right for me to have the loudest presence at this moment in time.  While I and my colleagues don’t claim to be experts, one thing we know we can do is share events, stories, and activities that honor Black History this month. Preferably, these are things led or created by people of color, in order to amplify their voices and not take up more space with my voice or other white voices. So with that, I offer you a…

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