A City without Urban Ecology is Waiting for Our Help

Written by Chris Young
    Thursday, 13 January 2022
A City without Urban Ecology is Waiting for Our Help

Can you imagine Milwaukee without the Urban Ecology Center? Have you lived in or visited a city where people did not have a place that helped them connect to nature and each other?
Many of us living in Milwaukee have come to rely on the Urban Ecology Center as a place that provides us with a community space, in three distinct locations across the city.

The UEC is where we meet each other, and where we begin so many adventures in nature. Maybe it has been a while since you visited another city, but if you think back, do you remember being in a community where you didn’t know how to access a vibrant green space where you would feel welcome and safe going for a walk with a child, a friend or family member, or even on your own? DSC 8013 credit Chamong Xiong 1

We are so fortunate in Milwaukee to have the UEC! Other cities have beautiful parks, forests, beaches, rolling hills and grassy fields, lakes, rivers, and scenic overlooks. They also have nature programs and community centers, but think about it… not many combine all of these features in one place that offers a consistent connection to nature for school kids, families, and neighbors. The UEC is special.

Recently, I met a new friend who actually had no idea that the UEC is unique to Milwaukee. Because the programs are woven into his family’s life, he knows how significant it is. Maybe for that very reason, he assumed other cities must have their own urban ecology centers. But the UEC is not a franchise, like fast-food chains or national retail stores. We are unique in many ways, but our mission is to connect people in cities to nature and each other, which is not necessarily limited to Milwaukee.
If you know people in other cities who need an urban ecology center, you can help now by letting them know about the UEC. We have put together materials that explain what we do here, and how it can happen in other places. The effort is called the UEC Institute.

intensive photo

Nature Walk and Pond Exploration with a neighborhood school at the UEC Riverside Park branch. 

The Institute is offering sessions to share how we began in a degraded park, with the ambition of a few teachers to show kids from nearby schools how to discover nature in their neighborhood. This was something of a departure from the traditional nature center model.

Our ambition grew into the vibrant organization we have today, consistently connecting tens of thousands of students each year to nature! So much life is our tagline. We want others to learn why, so we are offering a five-session online workshop.
People from across the country or around the world can come to one of our FREE online preview sessions, on Thursday, February 10 at 11 AM Central Time, or on Tuesday, February 22 at 5 PM Central Time. We have designed these events to give a taste of what to expect from the online “Intensive” training workshop. The FREE sessions offer an opportunity for us to reveal tools that have proven vital to the Urban Ecology Center’s success.
Reserve a space in either of the February free sessions here

People will also get more information about the “Intensive” series, starting March 3, 2022. This training is fun, interactive, inspiring, and packed with program details and strategies you can use in your community.
Additional online and on-site training options are also available.
Click here to learn more at the UEC Intensive website

Chris Young

Chris Young

Chris Young began volunteering at the UEC a decade ago. In February 2020, he began consulting work as the project manager for the UEC Institute. He is on academic leave from his role as professor of Biology at Alverno College, where he has taught courses on global warming, evolution, natural history, and science education, in addition to introductory biology. He also is an affiliate professor in the Department of History at UWM. He is thrilled to be managing a program that introduces the Urban Ecology Center model for community leaders and educators from around the world.


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