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Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Jennifer Callaghan
Monday, 05 May 2014
My favorite Wes Anderson film, hands-down, is "The Fantastic Mr. Fox." George Clooney's portrayal of the cunning and calculating Foxy is hilarious and executed perfectly. The story, based on a children's novel by Roald Dahl, chronicles a family of foxes that are hunted by angry farmers after getting fed-up with Foxy's nightly chicken thievery. The Fox family and many of their close woodland friends (including badgers, opossums, white-footed mice and rabbits) spend a good portion of the film trying to outwit the farmers and fight for their own survival. The biological detail that Anderson pays to all of the animals in the story is quite remarkable. Spoiler alert!! Take note of the correct Latin names that Fox uses for all…
Written by Miguel Santos
Friday, 02 May 2014
“Get out your hard hat! It’s time to put some materials to the test. Stretch’em, soak’em, crush’em – use what you learned to construct something (a bridge, a bird nest or a building) to solve a problem.” This is the description for one of our school programs for second graders. We use the Three Little Pigs story as a reference. Students get to know about the properties of certain materials, then they are divided into groups to build up sturdy enough structures out of cups so as to withstand the wolves’ huffs and puffs.
Written by Chris Steinkamp
Thursday, 01 May 2014
At the Menomonee Valley branch of the Urban Ecology Center, we focused on Healthy Living for Earth Month. We've had a number of great projects, programs, and educational opportunities to connect people with their own and their community's well being. For me, April was the month that I brought my bike out of winter storage, tuned it up and hit the pavement!
Written by Glenna Holstein
Thursday, 01 May 2014
Five years ago, the Urban Ecology Center, the Menomonee Valley Partners, and Layton Boulevard West Neighbors gathered several groups of folks who live and work near the Menomonee Valley and shared with them a crazy idea — converting an old rail yard into a park. They asked the group: “what would you like to see in this park?” They received a lot of answers, but one thing that came up again and again was a desire for space to grow food. The neighborhood just south of the Menomonee Valley is the most densely populated area in the state, which means lots of people and little space for gardening.
Written by Laurel Cutright
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Spring is always a time of excitement and of release. As the snow melts and the birds return, I feel a sense of relief from the cooped-up restlessness of winter. The students I work with seem to have the same experience, though of course in a more exaggerated way. After a winter in often windowless classrooms, they are as wiggly physically as I am mentally. The typical structure of our classes with the Neighborhood Environmental Education Project, our school program, is to do one or two short activities inside before heading out into the park.
Written by Mike Larson
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
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…
Written by Beth Heller
Tuesday, 29 April 2014
Every spring, Center staff members have a friendly competition of “firsts.” As the snow melts, folks vie to be the first person to see a red-wing blackbird, chipmunk or spring flower. But the most important “first” to me is found in the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. This is the first year we’ll begin to see the results of our hard work last fall. All of Wisconsin’s ecosystems are represented in the Arboretum, from soil make-up to wildflowers to tree species. This amazing new asset for the city was built for everyone to enjoy. 
Written by Ken Leinbach
Monday, 28 April 2014
I awoke alone just before sunrise, happy for the warmth of my sleeping bag. The eastern horizon was aglow where ocean met sky. Purple, peach and pink all mixed up into one intense remarkable color. I rolled over and rested my chin in my hands to take in the beauty before my eyes. There was hardly a breath of wind on the shore of this small, isolated cove on Isla Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez. My mind was awake, open and clear. I heard a soft sound ... not so much an interruption, but an intrinsic part of the moment.
Written by Jeff Veglahn
Thursday, 24 April 2014
This month let's talk about prairie ecological succession. Succession is the observed change in a species structure of an ecological community over time. For the most part, this change is very slow and happens over the course of 100+ years! When talking about ecological succession, there are two different types of succession: primary and secondary. Primary succession happens when the starting landscape is devoid of vegetation and usually lacking soil, such as lava flows or areas retreated by glaciers. Secondary succession happens when the starting landscape is reduced from an event such as a fire.
Written by Willie Karidis
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
I've just returned from spending 18 days in Alaska visiting a variety of destinations including Denali National Park and Preserve. I'm really excited to lead another Great Alaska Adventure from September 4 through the 13th, 2014. The Urban Ecology Center has put together a wonderful opportunity for friends of the Center to experience Alaska unlike any other tourist can. The reason I love going on this trip is one, autumn is the most beautiful time of the year, and two, I am able to show you some of my favorite spots in the world. I hope you can join us for this amazing trip of a lifetime.  

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