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Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Ethan Bott
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
We know COVID-19 is affecting everyone in Milwaukee County in many different and difficult ways. We are now spending a lot of time indoors living, working, and teaching as we care for ourselves and one another through physical distancing. However we also know that nature has incredible healing and calming powers that we want you to take advantage of during this stressful time. Whether that is in your backyard, in a park, or even through your window, we hope you have the chance to interact with the outdoors. Before you head outside, please abide by all health and social distancing recommendations by the CDC as well as by local health officials as they can change with every passing day. Please…
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
As we all practice remaining “safer at home,” we are grateful for the many beautiful Milwaukee County Parks and other green spaces. Going outside for walks, hikes, bike rides, bird watching, and other activities can be done while using appropriate social distancing measures. We encourage you to take advantage of the natural beauty surrounding us and the wonder of this transitional season. Here are some excellent recommendations from our staff on local, accessible natural areas where you can enjoy nature right now:
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Monday, 30 March 2020
Looking for some fun, kid-friendly nature-related activities this spring? We're here to help! The activities below can be adapted for kids of all ages and will work well while self distancing. Many thanks to Environmental Educator Brynne Drohan for this list. (Contenido en español también)
Written by Maggie Steinhauer
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
Met with the blaring calls of the Red-winged Blackbirds and joyful chatter of Robins when stepping outside, you know it’s springtime in Wisconsin. These sounds create a feeling of warmth and excitement for the summer months that are just around the corner, and are a sure sign of the changing seasons. There are, though, harbingers of spring that aren’t so vociferous. In fact, two species in particular are rather silent in their seasonal debut, but just as telling. The Mourning Cloak butterfly and the Butler’s Gartersnake are two species that rise from their winter hibernation rather than migrating back into Wisconsin.
Written by Chad Thomack
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
We're encouraging our staff to share the natural discoveries they've found on their walks. Come along on a "virtual nature walk" with our Environmental Educator Chad Thomack, and hear stories about his recent discoveries in nature!
Written by Tory Bahe
Tuesday, 17 March 2020
There are few rules to hiking beyond “leave no trace” and “stay on the trail,” but another unspoken one is “give other folks their space.” In other words, polite hikers have been practicing “social distancing” for ages! Just because kids don’t have school to go to for the time being doesn’t mean we all have to spend the next bit of time cooped up in the house. In fact, the natural world has kept on doing its thing while we’ve been busy with math assignments and playdates and seemingly endless meetings, and spring is the perfect time to get back out there. The Urban Ecology Center’s mission to connect people in cities to nature isn’t going anywhere, and this is…
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Friday, 13 March 2020
April 28 Update: Our branches remain closed to the public, and onsite programming is suspended, in compliance with the Governor’s Safer at Home Order. We look forward to reopening our branches and resuming onsite programs when permitted under Wisconsin’s Badger Bounce Back Plan. In the meantime, please continue to enjoy the outdoors (with safe social distancing), and please enjoy the virtual offerings we’re providing through Urban Ecology Center in My Backyard.
Written by Regina Miller
Thursday, 12 March 2020
“Would you like to hold it?”, I asked the 8th-grade boy. He said “Yes” and I gently poured the spoonful of pond water that held the dragonfly larva into his hands. Ever so carefully he touched it with his fingertips and turned it around in his hand exploring it thoroughly. “Can I try another one?” he asked? He put the dragonfly larva back into the basin of pond water and I quickly scooped out a damselfly larva and poured it into his hands. Again he carefully felt and explored the small, delicate creature. After returning it to the pond water basin, he asked to try another animal. This time I scooped out a snail and poured it into his hands. Once…
Written by Erin Ganzke
Thursday, 27 February 2020
As a member of the Urban Ecology Center, one of the great perks you have that you can borrow a variety of adventure equipment for your family and friends. This Equipment Lending benefit allows you to have adventurous experiences in our urban parks or wherever you wish to go! While you can borrow snowshoes and cross-county skis at any branch, Washington Park has something unique -- ice skates! And one of the places you can try out our skates is on the Washington Park lagoon; that is, when the ice is thick enough. But how thick is enough?
Written by Ethan Bott
Thursday, 13 February 2020
One of my earliest interactions with a bird happened when I was a child. However, it was not actually with a bird, but instead an interaction with the source of its food. Every year as a child my family and I would pack up the car and head up to the great north woods to our log cabin situated on a small lake. In front of our cabin there was a birch tree just feet from the edge of the lake.

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