Urban Ecology Center

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The Urban Ecology Center is an organization that was started by community members around 1990. The community members wanted to rescue their local park, Riverside Park which is located in Milwaukee, WI, from neglect, invasive plant species, crime, and litter. The community members wanted to clean their park with learning but were unsure how to achieve that.


The Urban Ecology Center was officially created in 1991. The community members organized park cleanups and began to use the park to educate people. These community members started to teach different neighborhood kids about different school subjects such as science and nature. The goal of the Urban Ecology Center is to take the ecological understanding and use it as a opportunity for motivation and inspiration for change. They use this statement and try to achieve it each and every time as they go from neighborhood to neighborhood sharing the knowledge to the children of the community. [1]


Since being founded in 1991, the Urban Ecology Center has expanded from one location to three different locations across the Milwaukee area. The three locations all try to achieve the same goal with educating the neighborhood children and introducing or expanding on their knowledge of different school subjects. In 2004, the members of the Ecology Center opened a new center in Riverside Park. This new facility had unique features that allowed it to become the multi-use facility that the community members and staff of the Ecology Center needed to help achieve their goals and educate the children. [2]

Riverside Park

Riverside Park is the original of the three different locations to the Urban Ecology Center. The Riverside Park sector is located at 1500 E. Park Way in Milwaukee, WI, and is between the East Side and Riverwest Communities. This is hence the name "Riverside" as a combination of both nearby surrounding communities. This location is in the heart of Milwaukee in terms of densely populated and also a very diverse area. The original "green" building, which has the offices, the classrooms, and the resource areas included, also has other features included as well. The building is home to different live animals, also has informational exhibits that talk about the park and some of the things that are in relation to the park, and finally, the building has resource material that is user-friendly and describes different facts and features of the environment. [3]

Washington Park

Washington Park is home of the second section of the Urban Ecology Center, located at 1859 N. 40th Street in Milwaukee, WI. This location was opened in 2007 as an expansion from Riverside Park as another opportunity to educate the children and members of the communities surrounding Washington Park. The Ecology Center started the Neighborhood Environmental Education Project (NEEP) which provides a wide range of different science based curriculum and topics. [4] Recognized nationally for its approach towards environmental education and unique experience and opportunities to learn a wide range of science topics. The program allows schools to bring their science classes transform their in-class lectures to outdoor hands-on based demonstrations and activities. Some of the different science topics covered in the outdoor setting include ecology and the basics of wildlife, the physics of sound and light, the study of recycling or of energy, as well as how simple machines work. The Ecology Center of Washington Park also includes activities of physical education such as canoeing or kayaking, rock climbing, ice skating, snowshoeing, or hiking along the trails. The Washington Park Center is very flexible with its schools and districts involved, allowing teachers to create programs that fit their curriculum and schedules to achieve the most efficient yet intriguing learning for its students. [5]

Menominee Valley

Of the three branches that come from the Urban Ecology Center, the Menominee Valley building is the newest. Opening on September 8th, 2012, located at 3700 W. Pierce Street in Milwaukee, WI, is like the original Riverside Park building being a "green" building. The community center is another model for the "green" building options and serves as a visual for other ecological friendly businesses and organizations to possibly replicate the building structure or design. This branch wasn't possible without some major project and funding partners but the biggest contribution was from the Burke Foundation who gave a multimillion dollar donation. The Menominee Valley branch is in a membership with From the Ground Up which is a project that is attempting to change and improve the Milwaukee area but more specifically the Menominee Valley itself. [6] The final goal of the project is to have the Valley developed into a economic, cultural, and eco-friendly area within the city of Milwaukee. With this project, that actually costs $26 Million, some of the more specific goals and where the money is going towards include expanding on the Hank Aaron State Trail with a western extension of the trail and also a complete transformation of a 24 acre wasteland into an outdoor learning area. [7]

Mission Statement

The Urban Ecology Center has three different branches that are all attempting to achieve unique goals and tasks based on the area the branch is located. That being said, the Urban Ecology Center as a whole, is still attempting to help and educate the children of the different local communities. The Ecology Center, throughout the three branches has some main points that they are using, no matter the time or place, it is always a goal. From the Urban Ecology Center website, they have listed different points that they use as a general mission statement. The Environmental Community Centers created the 5 P's list. Some of the points included are 1. protect and use pubic natural areas, making them safe and usable, 2. practice and model environmentally responsible behaviors, 3.Promote community as a whole that offers resources that support recreation, volunteerism, learning, camaraderie, and stewardship, 4. provide outdoor science education for the youth, 5. preserve and enhance the natural areas and surrounding waters. With these 5 objectives, each of the three branches have different areas to focus on to achieve the main goal of educating the youth of the nearby communities yet also protecting and improving the environment around them. [8]


Article History

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