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Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Kristin Nelson
Friday, 05 April 2013
When the Young-Harris family welcomed me into their house on a cold Saturday morning, Donald and Donovin politely greeted me at the door. Golden sunlight streamed into their warm, cozy home, and they offered me a seat on their couch. Within moments, their mother Katrina Young-Harris walked into the living room where I sat with her boys, and she shared a smile so big and warm that I instantly felt “at home” with this family.
Written by Phenology Team
Tuesday, 02 April 2013
For some, the word Phenology is a relatively elusive word that doesn't immediately bring anything to mind. Considering that it's derived from Greek word phaino, meaning to show or appear, you might guess that spring is a great time to begin practicing this fun activity. April is an important month for Phenology because it marks the appearance of so many friends of field and forest that seem long lost over the cold winter months.
Written by Sarah Rohe
Thursday, 28 March 2013
It was a muddy day in the woods. The snow that had piled up all winter was melting, making it a perfect day to study the tracks that animals had left behind in the mud. One particularly excited 2nd grader, Kayana, was anxious to find any track she could. As she ran off the trail in search of more signs that animals had made, I asked her to come back to the group. Clearly disappointed that I had stopped her investigation, she yelled back “But I’m in the woods- I’m s’posed to explore!”
Written by Omar Bonilla-Ortiz
Tuesday, 26 March 2013
For all the cutting-edge design here at the Menomonee Valley, one of the building’s most prominent and unique features is actually based on a centuries old technology...and you’ve probably walked right past it!  The Solar Chimney (that two-story black box on the front of our building), also known as a ‘Solar Stack,’ or ‘Thermal Chimney’, uses the principle of convection to help keep the center well ventilated; and some versions of this technology date as far back as the Copper Age (circa 5500 B.C.E.).   Convection?  Sounds like a lot of hot air!    I’ll be honest, the first few times I heard about the stack my eyes glazed over a little, but the theory it’s based on is actually…
Written by Joel Springsteen
Friday, 22 March 2013
What native Wisconsin plant is the first to bloom in the spring, generates its own heat capable of thawing frozen soil and melting snow, and produces flowers before leaves; flowers that emit a smell of rotting flesh? Skunk cabbage!  Not a true cabbage, skunk cabbage is a member of a mostly tropical family of plants, the Arum family or Araceae. Other well known members of the Arum family include calla lilies, philodendrons, taros (elephant ears), as well as other native plants like Green Dragon and Jack-in-the-pulpit. Skunk cabbage gets its name from the pungent skunk-like odor released when any part of the plant is broken or damaged and from its large leaves which grow in a rosette somewhat like a cabbage.
Written by Glenna Holstein
Thursday, 14 March 2013
It’s not often you have the chance to name a 24-acre park in your city. But for the next week, you have exactly that chance! The Urban Ecology Center is tremendously excited to be collaborating with Menomonee Valley Partners, the City of Milwaukee, the State of Wisconsin, and a number of other partners to open a new park the Menomonee Valley on Saturday, July 20. 
Written by Jennifer Callaghan
Thursday, 14 March 2013
The Killdeer is a widespread and familiar plover. This hardy, native shorebird can be found living and nesting in a wide variety of habitats from farm fields to grocery store parking lots. They are one of the first spring migrants to return to Wisconsin. The Killdeer prefers wide, open spaced areas where they can easily survey terrain; switching between quick jaunts and abrupt, short rest periods. They are the least water dependent of all shorebirds and prefer areas where they can easily find insect prey.
Written by Phenology Team
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Spring is getting close, and important changes are already happening. You've probably already noticed that it's getting warmer and the days keep getting longer. Temperature and light are responsible for many changes to the landscape, which make spring a fun and beautiful season to track Phenology. Let's talk about these changes.
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
It’s that time of year again – time to tap the maple trees, more specifically the sugar maples! Every year, the Urban Ecology Center takes part in the uniquely American tradition of maple sugaring by tapping the maple trees in Riverside and Washington Parks and boiling down the sap to make maple syrup!
Written by Jamie Ferschinger
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
The Riverside Park Center was bustling last Saturday! The 11th annual Local Farmer Open House attracted approximately 1,000 people to our Riverside Park branch to meet local farmers and learn about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Visitors chatted with 17 local farmers as the farmers enthusiastically shared information about their farms, their philosophies, and the food they grow. The workshops, including: Introduction to CSAs, Cooking from Your CSA Box and Multiple Biological Effects from Low Level Pesticides in Foods, were packed and people were enjoying good food and good conversations throughout the day. Thank you to the farmers, the presenters, the food trucks, and to all of you who attended. Hope to see you next year! Take a look at these…

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