Susan Bence

Environmental Reporter

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.

Susan is now WUWM's Environmental Reporter, the station's first. Her work has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

Susan worked with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for 20 years, studied foreign languages at UWM, and loves to travel.

Susan Bence

Some highly engaged naturalists — including those at Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center — are piloting a project called Yardversity to lure people to the outdoors as well as fuel research about the natural world.

READ: Milwaukee's Urban Ecology Center Strikes On A Formula That Works

Susan Bence

Many people lack access to food to sustain their families. The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the struggle. According to a recent Feeding America study, food insecurity could impact up to 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 2 children in the U.S.

Milwaukee-area organizations and individuals are stepping up to help fill the food gap.

Screenshot / City of Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s outgoing health commissioner is beginning to say her goodbyes, including to the city’s board of health.

On Tuesday evening, Jeanette Kowalik met virtually with the group for the last time. She was vocal about how much progress the public health team has made and about the myriad challenges she faced as a female Black commissioner of health.

Susan Bence

President Trump visited Kenosha Tuesday in the wake of protests and unrest that have ricocheted through the city.

It was nine days since police shot Jacob Blake in the back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, and a week since a 17-year-old from Antioch, Ill., shot and killed two protesters.

Trump surveyed areas damaged by arson and vandalism and held a law enforcement roundtable that was closed to the public.

In the meantime, a crowd gathered at Civic Center Park, where protests have erupted since Blake's shooting.

Susan Bence

The COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs and many are facing economic hardship. For some families, it’s been challenging to access fresh food.

Julian Hayda

The shaded green space of Kenosha's Civic Center Park has witnessed a lot of raw racial and social emotions lately. On Tuesday night, T.J. Clement and his sister looked on as people discussed and shouted differences of opinion about police shootings and protests. Clement thinks police reform is needed here and around the country.

Susan Bence / WUWM

Finding ways to connect and collaborate during the coronavirus pandemic is challenging. Organizers of a recent environmental cleanup think they might have come up with a way to combine getting good work done with giving people a chance to connect.

Susan Bence

Monday signaled day one of the Democratic National Convention. But we all know it’s not the DNC Milwaukee had planned to host at the Fiserv Forum. The coronavirus put an end to that.

Instead, the convention features virtual speeches and recorded messages from around the country. Major appearances by Wisconsinites are being broadcast from the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.

But people could be found downtown Monday with strong opinions about the convention and the political process.

Susan Bence

Research at UW-Milwaukee is helping us learn how E. Coli can impact beaches. Just last week, South Shore Beach was closed because of elevated levels of bacteria in the water that could make people sick.

E. coli is a bacteria found in the gut of humans and animals, which can end up in fecal matter. If a lot of that fecal matter makes its way to beaches, it becomes a public health issue. People can get sick with an upset stomach and fever.

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore

People working to make Milwaukee’s harbor cleaner plan to install a trash interceptor in the Kinnickinnic River. The idea is to catch floating trash before it reaches Lake Michigan. And the group Harbor District, Inc., won a federal grant to bring the project to life.

We recently met Harbor District’s Natural Environment Program Manager Aaron Zeleske as close to the future home of the trash interceptor as we can get – a fence blocks our path and trees and overgrown bushes block the view.

Michelle Maternowski / WUWM

The Wisconsin health briefing struck a somber note Thursday afternoon as officials continued to urge residents to wear masks if they have to leave home and to, also, practice socially distancing.

The only people sharing the message at the virtual news briefing were Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, and state health officer Stephanie Smiley.

Marathon County Land and Water Program

Over the last seven months, a task force has been deliberating over what Wisconsin can do about climate change. A panel picked by the governor includes industry and tribal leaders, elected officials, and youth activists. Now, everyone in the state has a chance to weigh in.


It had been two weeks since Gov. Tony Evers and state public health officials summoned the press to discuss the status of the coronavirus in Wisconsin. But Tuesday was not a case of 'no news is good news,' cases of the coronavirus are on the rise. And for the first time, Evers and his colleagues wore face masks as they addressed their virtual audience.

Even had Evers and top state health officials not had their faces shielded by masks because of a new Dane County mandate, it’s unlikely they would have had upbeat expressions.

Susan Bence

The coronavirus pandemic has many of us feeling unsure. How far is far enough when social distancing? How clean is clean enough?

Milwaukee-area entrepreneur Todd Muderlak thinks the coronavirus is changing the way people approach sanitation — and he’s developed products he hopes will fill a void.

Standing in the middle of his Glendale headquarters off Port Washington Road, Muderlak says as a kid he surrounded by his dad’s creations, including washroom innovations.

Susan Bence

Each month, UWM distinguished professor of atmospheric science Paul Roebber talks with Lake Effect as part of our climate conversations series. In this final installment, two policy experts join the conversation.

Amber Meyer Smith is from the organization Clean Wisconsin. She’s a member of Gov. Tony Evers’ climate change task force.