Written by Glenna Holstein
    Monday, 18 February 2013

I am not a parent, so I can’t claim to know what the highs and lows of parenthood might be, but I imagine one of the most incredible experiences must be to witness the transition from not being into being: to have in your life, all of a sudden, a wonderful living thing that wasn’t there at all before.

I got to experience that a little bit the other day at the Menomonee Valley branch.

It was a Saturday, a day I don’t typically work, and I was just stopping by to show off the place to some friends who were visiting. We opened the front door and it was like stepping into another world. The energy in the building was palpable—giggles wafted toward us from a birthday party in the Community Room, the volunteer on the phone at the reception desk smiled and waved as we entered and cheerful greetings came at us from every direction—from every staff, Outdoor Leader and Young Scientist in the building!

I showed my friends the highlights of the building, of course, but what delighted us the most was observing what was going on. Community Program staff Lainet and John were getting ready to take our Young Scientists Club skiing. Omar, our Visitor Services Assistant, was facilitating a birthday party rental and helping a family borrow snowshoes. And our High School Outdoor Leader interns were doing…everything! Tomás was covering the reception desk, Gabby and Andrea were engaging some of the kids who had stopped by and Richard and Patrick were confidently showing my friends around the animal room as they fed and watered the animals. Oh, and remember Marcel, the young man from my story in September who heard about the animal room that would soon be coming and decided he wanted to work here? Guess who was in that very animal room proudly showing me how well he could handle our 5-foot bull snake?

As I stood amid this swirl of activity, I felt a profound sense of awe. What I was experiencing seemed nearly impossible a year ago. This physical place did not exist and a year ago not a single one of the people working on that Saturday was an employee of the Center. Reflecting on the last few months, I realize that I have gotten to witness quite a miraculous event: something going from nonexistent to truly being. And, though it’s not exactly like a new child, there is something pretty darn magical about this “wonderful living thing that wasn’t there at all before”. I hope each of you will come experience this place as it comes into its own.

Glenna Holstein

Glenna Holstein

Glenna grew up a mile up the river from the Riverside Park, so the Urban Ecology Center has always been important to her. Her studies and work have taken her all over the hemisphere, but her home has always been right here in Milwaukee. As Menomonee Valley Branch Manager, she is delighted to be part of the team that is working to connect a new community to the nature in their neighborhood. Her favorite things to do include hiking, exploring, cooking, singing, building forts, and trying to convince children that cockleburs are really baby porcupines!

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