Students sitting outside our original Urban Ecology Center building -- a double wide trailer

How did this organization come to be? Well, it began with a community of concerned neighbors who wanted to take back their neighborhood park and make it safe again. Riverside Park, which had been neglected for years, had become crime ridden, full of litter and invasive plants. Neighbors came together and formulated an idea – could they replace crime and litter with learning? In 1991, they organized park cleanups and started to use the park to teach neighborhood students about nature and science.

Graffiti written on a tree in Riverside ParkObject in woods with tree growing through it                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             A sapling growing out of a rusted piece of metal -- junk that was thrown away in the park

In 2004, after years of operating out of a double-wide classroom trailer, the Center opened a new community and education center in Riverside Park. The award-winning facility has themed classrooms designed especially for the school programs. In addition there is space dedicated to the community for potlucks, meetings, lectures and recreational activities. Call it an Environmental Community Center.

Today, the Urban Ecology Center has two additional locations in Milwaukee: one in Washington Park to serve communities and schools on Milwaukee’s west side and one in the Menomonee Valley on Milwaukee’s south side. We are a vibrant and growing organization, serving 77,000+ people each year and protecting and restoring urban green spaces in Milwaukee.

Check out the above video about the 10 years of our Riverside Park green facility. This short documentary was created by youth volunteer Serbata Tarrer. 


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