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Displaying items by tag: Impact
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 00:00

Outdoor Awesomeness

Being outside is awesome because there is something for everyone. This was perfectly illustrated on a camping adventure with the Menomonee Valley Young Scientists Club this past summer. We packed two buses full of tents, sleeping bags, food and ourselves and drove up to Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary for our first Young Scientists and parents camping trip. Camping was a new experience for many, so we planned to do the basics like preparing dinner over a fire, telling stories and exploring the woods at night. But perhaps the best parts of the whole trip were the things that had not been planned.

One of the longest running programs we have at the Urban Ecology Center is called River Connections. Through this program, students get right into the Milwaukee River in hip waders to test water quality at two locations – one urban, here in Riverside Park, and one rural, at Riveredge Nature Center. The students are amazed when, on occasion, the readings they find in the city are better than the rural readings. We teach them that this is due, in part, to the removal of the North Avenue Dam which allowed the river to flow free, cleaning itself.

This free flowing water is essential to river health, which is essential to our health.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 00:00

Travelling to the Tetons

“Twelve high schoolers spending seven days in the wilderness without their cell phones? We will see how this goes!” I thought as we boarded the plane on our way to Wyoming. This adventure is a highlight of our two-year High School Outdoor Leadership internship that introduces teens to environmental careers and gives them solid employment experience they can put on college applications.

Thursday, 25 June 2015 00:00

Lake Michigan Lessons

One of my favorite places to take school groups is Lake Michigan. It is such a valuable resource right in the backyard of our city. We use it in many ways to teach lessons to students. One lesson is that our drinking water comes from Lake Michigan. Another is the rock cycle, during which we collect different rocks at the “skipping stone beach.” Recently, my co-teacher Tory and I used the beach to teach 4th graders about glaciers and glacial landforms.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 00:00

Take a Hike, Milwaukee!

One of my favorite things to do is be fully immersed in nature while hiking in the middle of the city. The fact that you can walk from a street full of houses into a beautiful green haven in a matter of moments is so amazing!

I love watching people’s faces their first time out hiking in one of the parks at our branches, especially those who have lived in Milwaukee all their lives but have never seen this natural side of their city. It’s great.

I’d like to invite you to take part in an urban nature hike with me!

We began our hands-on, environmental education school program serving just 12 schools in a double-wide trailer in Riverside Park. Our dream was to serve all the schools in a two-mile radius and have a vibrant, environmentally-based center connecting people with the outdoors. We definitely needed more space (and indoor plumbing!). With the help of many, many friends, we opened our Riverside Park building in September 2004. Thank you to everyone who made this possible. We look forward to the next 10 years!

Thursday, 30 April 2015 00:00

A Hawk, a Chipmunk and So Much More

“Look! Up there, high in the tree, perched on that branch,” an environmental educator directed his class of students to where a Cooper’s Hawk sat in a tree in Riverside Park.

Just moments before they spotted the hawk, a chipmunk had darted across the path in front of them. Out hunting for signs of spring, the class was thrilled at the sighting because chipmunks are hibernators and only awaken from their deep slumber when the weather warms just enough – a true sign of spring!

Thursday, 19 February 2015 00:00

The $755,000 Hank Aaron Challenge!

Ce-le-brate good times, come on!
There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times
and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you

Do you remember that song from Kool and the Gang? Well guess what folks, we have our own Kool Gang and wow, do we have something to celebrate!

Tuesday, 06 January 2015 00:00

Why What We Do Matters

The turn of the year is always a good time for reflection-- to ask, “Why do I do what I do?”

Sometimes it’s really hard for me to answer that question. We live in a city plagued by segregation, disparity and systemic violence, within a country that often feels paralyzed by political polarization. Against this backdrop, I sometimes find myself planning a snowshoe program and wondering, “Isn’t there more I could be doing?” and “Is this work really that important?”

I think the answer to both of these questions is “yes.”

“Wow! Did I really just say that? ... I sure hope I didn’t offend anyone,” I thought as I stepped from the podium and returned to my seat. It is always a little dicey when I’m asked to speak extemporaneously. Even I am never quite sure what I will say. In this case, I issued a personal challenge to all in attendance at an evening business awards ceremony organized by the Shepherd Express. Upon receiving much positive feedback afterward, I thought that perhaps I should offer this to you as well!

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