About Us

Urban Ecology Center

Urban Ecology Center

At the Urban Ecology Center, we connect people in cities to nature and each other. Read more about us here!

Sometimes changing one small thing can have a huge impact. Curiosity about where her food came from and who was growing it led Anne Steinberg from a passive consumer to a food activist. After participating in a course on sustainable living at the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) about nine years ago, Steinberg decided to try to change just one thing in her life to be more sustainable. She started buying fair trade coffee. Since it was easy enough to change what she was drinking, she decided to change what she was eating, so she became a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Having a connection to where and how her food was grown opened her eyes to a food system she had not given much thought to before.

Monday, 30 December 2013 11:54

See for Yourself -- Our Awe Inspiring Donors

We are so grateful for our awesome donors! 3,257 people helped keep the Center operating last year, contributing $857,645! From having a wedding at one of our branches to donating 2,000 assorted bird books, our supporters helped us get people outdoors and connected to nature. But don't just take our word for it -- See for yourself! See how you supported our mission last year.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013 12:09

Becoming a Change Agent: Elise's Story

Elise Wirkus is one determined young lady! “I want to make progressive environmental change more approachable to people. I want to be the person people think of when they decide to recycle or to compost, or even something as big as choosing a more complicated, but more environmentally sound business plan.” Now a junior at UW-Madison, Elise is double majoring in Environmental Studies and Legal Studies, with the intention of going to law school someday, and eventually working on behalf of the environmental issues and causes that have become sincere passions of hers.

If you visit the Menomonee Valley branch at the Urban Ecology Center on a Tuesday or Thursday, you’ll be enthusiastically greeted by either Carlos Vazquez or Gustavo Mayorga at the reception desk. These two 16 year-olds know just about as much about the Urban Ecology Center as any of our staff, but you might be surprised to find out that they are volunteer interns from Carmen High School of Science and Technology. In fact, when you see them at the Center, they’re actually in school!

Carlos and Gustavo are both juniors, and in their sophomore year, they were selected for the school’s internship program. Now they spend one day a week volunteering at a local business or organization with the goal of learning professional skills—and the Urban Ecology Center was lucky enough to be their placement! While these two are invaluable resources to us, their involvement at the Urban Ecology Center has also enabled them to experience new opportunities and has impacted the way they think about the future.

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 16:35

IT Specialist

This part-time, 20 hour/week, position is responsible for directly supporting the organization's hardware and software needs and day to day IT projects. A significant part of this role is to maintain the server, workstations, and other technology at all locations, including routine backups. The position coordinates the efforts of IT consultants, works independently and collaboratively with other staff.

Requirements for the position include a Bachelor's or Associate's degree in Management Information Systems, computer science, or a related field, or equivalent experience in a technology-related field; a minimum of 2 years of work in a technology-related role, strong familiarity with personal computer hardware and software, experience managing Microsoft Server 2008, and Exchange. SQL and terminal services are highly desired. Strong interpersonal skills, ability to communicate effectively with technical and non-technical individuals, strong team focus, a high level of initiative, ability to effectively set priorities, and an interest in continuing to learn to stay current are all important in this position.

This position will work at all three branches. The pay starts at $15.00 an hour.

Applications will be accepted until December 31, 2013.

Check out the announcement and job description for this position.


Click here to apply.


 Applicants have rights under Federal Employment Laws including: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA).

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 16:35

IT Specialist Application

Looking for an economical way to stretch your dinner dollar and be more frugal with food? If you’re partial to poultry consider getting the whole chicken! This recipe for baked chicken meatballs is just one way to move beyond the breast and take advantage of the multiple meals you can get out of a whole bird. Want to get more creative? Then check out our hands-on Cooking Circle: Using the Whole Chicken class Monday, December 9th and learn how make chicken salad, curry, stock, and more!

Eight years ago, Shorewood resident Ann Brummitt was teaching her 20th year of high school French, helping students conjugate verbs, and interpret French literature and history. While she enjoyed being an educator, she felt the need to make a change in her life and her career.

"I wanted to be an environmental activist."

After a long conversation with Executive Director Ken Leinbach about finding a project she could dig her hands into, Ann started volunteering at the Urban Ecology Center.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 12:32

Big Dreams for the Future: Darrin's Story

Darrin Madison is no stranger to the Urban Ecology Center. Having been involved with the Washington Park branch since its opening in 2007, sixteen year-old Darrin has experienced a variety of activities that have helped him grow as an individual and a community member. "The first day I came to the Center, it was during the summer and I was at the Washington Park Library. When I left, I saw a group of kids playing ultimate Frisbee close to the lagoon, and they invited me to play with them. After that, I always spent time here because I love it," Darrin recalls with a grin. After that initial experience, Darrin was hooked. He has remained actively involved over the years through his interaction as a Young Scientists Club member and as a High School Outdoor Leader.

Friday, 22 November 2013 14:09

A Family Inspired: Penny's Story

My mom and aunt used to ride bikes along the sidewalks that outlined the empty lots of their mostly abandoned subdivision. It was here they and their friends would play and dream – where the grasses grew tall with brightly colored wildflowers painting the landscape and the groves of trees provided a magical oasis. Little did they know this place was meant to be built up with houses, one next to the other, and just how lucky they were the economic crisis of the 1930’s had stalled these plans. This enchanting place, where their imaginations could run wild, would remain unchanged for the rest of their childhood.


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