What’s Happening at Washington Park

Written by Willie Karidis
    Saturday, 26 October 2013
What’s Happening at Washington Park

With the big events that have been happening in Riverside Park and in the Menomonee Valley, it’s easy to lose track of the fantastic things happening at Washington Park. To catch everyone up, I thought it best to check in with some of the folks who are helping to make it all happen.

Tim Vargo, bird magnet and Manager of Research and Community Science, had this to say about a wonderful tradition he leads every Wednesday morning:

“This week marked the 350th weekly bird walk at Washington Park (for real, I just checked!). The weekly bird volunteers have tallied over 150 species since the walks started in 2007, including some rare gems like a summer tanager, a northern mockingbird, a lark sparrow and an osprey fishing koi out of the lagoon.”

Terrance Davis has been working with us for over a year as the Visitor Services Specialist. He is the first person who will greet you when you walk through our doors. Terrance had this to say about the benefits of membership with the Urban Ecology Center — specifically about our lending program:

“To sum it all up in one word: Awesome! That’s the word I choose to use when describing the Winter Equipment Lending benefit at the Urban Ecology Center. Just when you thought all of the fun had to come to an end because the summer was over - surprise, our members can borrow cross country skis and ice skates! We also have snowshoes and ice fishing equipment (for you die-hard fisherpersons). So please join the Center and start borrowing equipment today. Or better yet, give a gift membership and get outside with your friends!”

Our Community Programs staff always has an interesting story about our highly motivated Young Scientist Club members. Rachel Soika, our newly hired Community Program Educator (hooray!) had this to say:

“After wrapping up our research for the day, the Driven to Discover group and I were chilling on the hill when a spontaneous ‘Bird-off’ (a bird id challenge) began. Never have I been more willing to use my phone to find pictures of birds and stump them just once!”

Kirsten Maier, who is serving a one year volunteer position through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps has been similarly impressed:

“Imagine: six young scientists, two High School Outdoor Leaders and two community program educators standing next to a dying oak tree discussing what might happen when the tree finally falls. Isaiah stops us. “Wait,” he says, “do we want the tree to die or not?” Good question, young scientist. Good question.”

Vibrant teaching space due to all of the hard work of GE Healthcare volunteers.

Emily Michi, our Volunteer Coordinator, reflected upon one of the many corporate groups who have graced us with their presence over this past summer:

“‘It is going to be BIG!’ No matter how many times I mentioned this at the staff meetings leading up to August 21st, I am not sure I was able to put into perspective what exactly was going to happen during the six hours the many talented GE project leads had planned. GE Healthcare Community Service Day is an annual opportunity for GE Healthcare to give back to the local community. Over 80 volunteers spent the day transforming our Washington Park branch.

They did a tremendous amount of work in only six hours. Some of their accomplishments were:

  • Designing and installing a wooden random block wall that includes shelves for live plants!
  • Building four custom, cedar-clad fish tank stands
  • Planting more than 300 prairie flowers
  • Creating a walkway of 40 stepping stones
  • Installing over 40 feet of cedar wainscoting
  • Painting a 24-foot mural depicting Washington Park past and present
  • Building a wattle fence (woven wood fencing) more than 120 feet long

 I was blown away with their dedication and cannot put into words how grateful I am for all of their hard work.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg. So much is happening here in Washington Park it is hard to tell you everything. I guess you’ll just have to stop by and see for yourself! Hope to see you soon!

Check out this post by Terrance to learn even more about what Washington Park has to offer.

Willie Karidis

Willie Karidis

Willie Karidis was born and raised in Milwaukee then took off for Denali National Park, Alaska, spending 25 years enjoying the wilderness of the Big Country. Gold mining in the bush, roofing in the Aleutian Islands and discovering the furthest inland whale in North American history were adventurous days. Working as the Executive Director of the Denali Education Center for 16 years was a time of wonderful exploration. 


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