Urban Ecology Center

Susan Bence

The Urban Ecology Center started humbly with a small team working out of a trailer near a forlorn park above the Milwaukee River. Today the park is flourishing, the river is healthier, and the Urban Ecology Center has grown to three neighborhood-based, ecological-steeped educational centers on Milwaukee’s east, central and south sides.

This week more than 20 people from around the world traveled to Milwaukee for the Urban Ecology Center's first 4-day Intensive to find out what makes the UEC tick.

Susan Bence

The Urban Ecology Center specializes in introducing people to the urban environment. Over the last 25 years, the education-based organization has created three branches.

Below its flagship facility near Riverside University High School, UEC  joined forces with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee joined to create a 40-acre arboretum above the Milwaukee River.

Susan Bence

For people familiar with the Urban Ecology Center, the name Ken Leinbach is often mentioned in the same breathe.

Today, the center shines bright as a model of environmental education and stewardship. However, a quarter century ago, the Urban Ecology Center, or UEC, began humbly in a trailer plunked above the Milwaukee River near Riverside High School.

Leinbach is credited with building its super-green flagship complex, as well as additional centers in Washington Park and the Menomonee Valley.

S Bence

In 1990, volunteers hatched an idea to kindle ecological understanding and stewardship among people in the neighborhood near Milwaukee’s Riverside Park. Their idea involved the environment, but their goal was to reduce the crime that gripped the neglected park.

That vision resulted in not just the flagship Urban Ecology Center, but two additional centers in Washington Park and the Menomonee Valley, which all play pivotal roles in their respective neighborhoods.

S Bence

Community group Layton Boulevard West Neighbors hoped to create a bike repair shop. When the spot LBWN selected fell through, organizers did not want to lose momentum. So, the Mobile Bike Hub was born.

Well-known volunteer in the Menomonee Valley, Michael Krajewski put his welding know-how to work to create the three-wheeled wonder. (Krajewski has worked at Falk Corporation in the Valley for than four decades.)

Joe Peterangelo

A blend of public/private partnerships have transformed a bleak, blighted Menomonee Valley. Monday, the Public Policy Forum released a report detailing what we can learn – and possibly replicate – in other large scale redevelopment projects. Some valley neighbors share their perspectives.

S Bence

Most kids are back in school by now; that means their outdoor play time is dramatically reduced. That assumes, of course, that children actually spend time playing outside and exploring nature. Data suggests otherwise. 

Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton has traveled the globe and made it his mission to preserve the remaining quiet places. Tuesday evening he’ll share his experiences at the Mequon Nature Preserve.

The species disappeared in 1914 - author Joel Greenberg hopes to create awareness and broaden interest in conservation.

Anna Metscher’s evolution spans from “non-vegetable eating” child in Milwaukee; to budding farmer who savors nearly everything fresh from her field.

We talk with some of the worker bees behind the new Rotary Centennial Arboretum that opened Saturday. It stretches between North Avenue and Locust Street.

After a decade of collecting buckets of public and private funding, a 24-acre park comes to life in the Menomonee Valley.

The condition of the Great Lakes will receive its fair share of attention over the next few days.

Tonight in Milwaukee, the EPA is asking for public input on the future of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – or GLRI.

Over the last four years, the federally funded program has funneled more than  $1 billion into projects such as cleaning up polluted estuaries and combating invasive species.

Jeramey Jannene/Flickr

For an urban city, Milwaukee's got a lot of nature around.

While the calendar might not say it, we tend to think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start to summer. Colleges are out, many pools have opened, summer sports seasons have started, and we are all spending more time outdoors. At least, we should be.

But as many have pointed out, a lot of us - kids in particular - don't get outside and explore as much as we used to.