Planting Relationships

Written by Sarina Counard-Ryals
    Wednesday, 07 June 2017
Planting Relationships

I, along with thirty-one other excited individuals, have started our summer as interns with the Urban Ecology Center. We come from diverse backgrounds with different qualifications, and, while we are all pursing different futures, for the entirety of this short summer our paths are molding together as we encourage the growth of ecological knowledge here in the Milwaukee area.

If you’ve been to any of our branches I’m sure you’ve experienced the welcoming energy of the Urban Ecology Center, which is exactly what all 32 of felt when we arrived Monday morning. Some people had met before and others didn’t know anyone, but it wasn’t long before we were playing icebreaking games and memorizing each other’s faces. The environment was filled with positive energy and conversations were flowing as the birth of many relationships began.

sarina headshot 2This post was written by Sarina Counard-Ryals, the Urban Ecology Center's 2017 Summer Marketing Intern. Sarina is pursuing a degree in Nutrition Science/Dietetics with a minor in Marketing at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

As the day continued we met lots of staff members who genuinely welcomed us as a part of their team. Not only was excitement radiating from us, but also from the staff who have been guiding us through our training. Environmental Education Manager Kirsten Angela and Manager of Research and Community Science Tim Vargo lead us through the trails of Riverside Park as they shared their advice with us. Tim encouraged us to “live in the moment but to be prepared.” That statement literally describes our summer. Working outdoors with the community forces us to be prepared for whatever may come our way, whether it be a rainy day or a random bee sting. We can’t control everything and that’s kind of the beauty of this summer; the adventure and unexpectedness is what’s so intriguing to us all, I think.

summer interns 2017
The Urban Ecology Center's 2017 summer interns! Photo: Matthew Gnas

On Tuesday we traveled to each branch and explored environments and neighborhoods that were new to many of us. I didn’t even know where the Menomonee Valley was, and if you don’t either I encourage you to check it out! Not only did we meet more of the welcoming staff, but we also learned an incredible amount about the history and development of Milwaukee and the UEC. Did you know that Washington Park used to have a zoo? Or that Three Bridges Park was once a railroad yard? How about the fact that Riverside Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same person who designed the famous Central Park in New York City? The amount of knowledge we have gained from being involved with the UEC for only two days is beyond incredible and I can’t even imagine how much more knowledge we will learn by the end of the summer.

As the first two days of our training come to an end, I find myself reflecting on all the seeds that have been planted in our hearts and I can’t wait to watch relationships grow and knowledge flourish. Each one of us has the potential to accomplish amazing things this summer, and together I believe we will.

Sarina Counard-Ryals

Sarina Counard-Ryals

Sarina Counard-Ryals is the Urban Ecology Center's 2017 Summer Marketing Intern. She is pursuing a degree in Nutrition Science/Dietetics with a minor in Marketing at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.


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