Intern Stories

Written by Urban Ecology Center
    Monday, 26 September 2016
Intern Stories

Every summer we hire a new batch of interns and every summer we impressed with their ability to teach us new things about the Center. This year we had two Visitor Services Interns whose stories really reminded us of how the simple act of welcoming someone can make a big difference in their life.

High School and Beyond: Nicholas' Story

I’m Nicholas and I have been coming to the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) since my sophomore year of high school. The UEC is a safe place to hang out with friends after school. The staff here made me feel safe and welcomed every time I walked in. I applied for this summer internship as a way to pay back all the kindness shown to me over the years. And because I’m an awesome nerd that likes to have fun with people, I thought Visitor Services would be the perfect fit.

Being a part of the UEC changes a lot about person. As an intern, I began appreciating the world and learned how to take better care of it for the next generation and the generation after that. In addition to that, the staff taught me so many practical skills.

Community Program Assistant Francis Sullivan showed me how to properly flip a canoe back up if it capsizes.

Environmental Educator Chad Thomack taught me how to do CPR on adults, small children and infants. Because of his training, I became certified by the American Red Cross to save people from choking in any situation.

Manager of Research and Community Science Tim Vargo led nature hike teaching us the various birds, insects and mammals that live along the Milwaukee River. The hike included a surprise stop at Culver's Restaurant. That ice cream was a great addition to a long hike.

Like the staff who reached out me, my internship allowed me to share the same welcoming feeling with teens I had known in high school. For example, one of 2015's blog posts was written by friends of mine, Jordan and Thomas. They were freshman when I met them and we still hang out. I like keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t get into trouble. The same way the UEC staff used to keep an eye on me.

The UEC impacted me before and during my internship. I made strong friendships with the other staff and interns, learned a lot and am glad I got to work here. That’s my story and experience at the Urban Ecology Center.

A Respite from the Storm: Nina's Story

I'm Nina, and I, like Nicholas, spent time at the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) before I became an intern. The welcoming feeling I found at the UEC helped me get through a very difficult time in my childhood.

I first came to the UEC when I was very little. It was just a double wide trailer behind Riverside High School. My father took me to see the park and meet Pretzel the snake while visiting my grandparents in Shorewood.

A few years later, my older brother went into treatment at the Milwaukee Children's Hospital for a rare form of cancer. Visiting Pretzel became a ritual for the weekly trips from Chicago to visit my brother. The UEC was a respite from the hospital because it was a place where people were so genuinely kind and welcoming. They treated me with compassion and shared their love of nature instead of just treating me like a sad kid with a sick brother. They introduced me to the nature that was all around me, even in a sterile hospital room. In this way, the UEC helped me grow and develop an environmental ethic as well as helping me feel safe and welcome in Milwaukee.

I have been so blessed to be able to intern here with the visitor services staff. The UEC changed me so much that now, as a college student, I am majoring in environmental studies and education. I met so many amazing mentors and really learned the "behind the scenes of the UEC." In the future I hope I will continue to visit and maybe even grow my own center that is welcoming to people of all ages with all I have learned here!

Urban Ecology Center

Urban Ecology Center

At the Urban Ecology Center, we get people of all ages outside and active every single day!  We foster ecological understanding as inspiration for change, neighborhood by neighborhood.  Read more about us here!

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