From Visitor to Ambassador

Written by Glenna Holstein
    Thursday, 03 July 2014
From Visitor to Ambassador

One of the best things about being an organization focused on mentoring is that we get to experience both sides of mentoring, and we get to watch “mentees” become “mentors.” I’ve had three great experiences recently watching the transition from “visitor” to “ambassador” and I thought I’d share them:

“Oh, is that the one in Washington Park?"

At the Shorewood pool I overheard two women talking about a meeting one of them had just had at the Urban Ecology Center. I assumed that, likely being East-siders, they were talking about Riverside Park, and was prepared to jump in with “do you know about our other Centers?” But what I heard instead was, “Oh, is that the one in Washington Park?” “Yes! It’s just beautiful over there!” Not only did I get a healthy dose of assumption-checking, but I was just delighted to hear folks spreading the word about Washington Park!

“I want to work here!”

You may remember Marcel from earlier stories. In short, he was one of the first students I met at Menomonee Valley. Early on, he and his friends were hanging out in the Valley Passage, without much to do. The moment I invited him into the then-empty Center, he said “I want to work here!” Over the last two years, he has volunteered with us, learning from our Visitors Services and Community Programs team, as well as other volunteers. And …

I could not be happier to announce that this summer, he will be joining our staff officially as one of our Outdoor Leaders! So now anyone who walks through our doors will have the chance to learn from him!

“Did you know...”

Jim Fry is a regular at Menomonee Valley. He knows a LOT — in fact, he is possibly the world’s reigning expert on LED lighting. Jim has spent a lot of time with our staff and one day he was hanging out in the lobby waiting for our Visitor Services Specialist Omar to finish a meeting. A neighbor who walked in wanted to know more about the membership benefits. Our volunteer receptionist was new, and I was about to step in to field questions, when I heard Jim’s voice. “Did you know you can borrow all sorts of equipment? Kayaks, skis, camping gear….” He handled the question almost as well as Omar!

I feel both proud and humbled by all of these stories. They are wonderful reminders that every member of our community has knowledge, talents and passion, and one of my ideals for the Urban Ecology Center is to be a place where each person feels empowered to share those with others in the community—I think that is mentorship at its best!


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!

Copyright © 2020 The Urban Ecology Center