About Us

Michelle Milford

Michelle Milford

Michelle is UEC's Development Communications Manager. With a degree in Zoology and Environmental Studies, she began her career as a zookeeper. An American badger remains her favorite animal - having raised one from a cub. After making some difficult professional decisions, Michelle ended up in the nonprofit sector where she’s happily stayed for 8+ years.  Having started in January 2022, she still feels incredibly lucky to be part of the UEC team - a team who, like her, cares deeply about the environment and those, both human and not, that depend on it. When she’s not at the UEC, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband, two young children and their deaf English setter. 

The easiest way to have a BIGGER impact in 2024? Ask your employer to match your 2023 gift! Matching gifts are a type of giving program set up by companies and corporations as an employee benefit. After an employee donates to a nonprofit, they can submit a matching gift request to their employer and the company will make an additional donation to that nonprofit.

Most employers will match gifts 1:1 meaning if you give $100, they company will give $100 as well.  But, some employers will double or even triple gifts!

The widely popular song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” highlights the numerous gifts given to the singer’s “true love.”

At the UEC,  our true love is nature… so here’s a song celebrating 12 specific ways your support has impacted urban nature at the Urban Ecology Center’s three Milwaukee branches.

“Giving Season” refers to the last two months of the year, when charitable giving is at its peak.

According to a “Charitable Giving Statistics” report published by the National Philanthropic Trust,  the majority of charitable giving in the U.S. is provided by individuals. In 2022, individual Americans gave $319.04 billion, which represented 64% of the total giving that year.

Monday, 16 October 2023 07:25

How 'Wood' You Like to Wear Your Name Tag?

When I started at the UEC, I realized fairly quickly there was going to be a steep learning curve. 

Not in the duties of my role. Those were well-defined. 

Not when to speak up in meetings. All opinions are valued right from the beginning.

Not in navigating a new work culture. The UEC is rooted in compassion and kindness. 

What I had to learn was the jargon, the slang, the lingo. And all the acronyms - we love an acronym here. Some examples include: 

Ten years ago, on September 28, 2013, the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum opened. Totaling 40 acres of restored land, the arboretum winds along the Milwaukee River and Oak Leaf trail expanding into Riverside Park.

With a generous lead gift from Milwaukee Rotarians, the dedication of partner organizations, and the support of our community, the last un-damned, but unfortunately degraded, stretch of the Milwaukee River was transformed into a thriving urban nature space loved by all Milwaukeans. 

“I guess I don't have a real understanding of how helpful $100 is - I think your budget is much bigger.”

An Urban Ecology Center supporter recently expressed worry that his gifts weren't impactful. His concern stemmed from the realization that there are those who give significantly more to the UEC than he does. 

A gift is not meaningful because of its size - a gift is meaningful simply because it was given.

Every single gift, no matter the size, makes a difference. Here’s why:

What do you want to be when you grow up? In high school this question quickly becomes a daunting task to figure out. Luckily for Milwaukee students, the Urban Ecology Center is on a mission to keep this question full of hope and wonder. 

The Urban Ecology Center High School Outdoor Leadership program is a unique paid internship that helps teens build a wide range of skills including leadership, studies of ecology, environmental justice, and job-readiness. After completing an 8-week summer internship, high school students have the opportunity to apply for an academic year position (September-April). 

Traditionally, one of the most popular days of charitable giving, Giving Tuesday falls after Black Friday and Cyber-Monday. Giving First Day flips that script. Before the hustle and bustle of the traditional shopping weekend, we invite you to reflect on the needs of our community and invest in shared values.

In 2021, a collaboration of over 40 non-profits was formed in Milwaukee, WI.  This idea, originally set into motion by the Urban Ecology Center, started in part with a need for more collaboration between area nonprofits. By working together, we have the opportunity to strengthen the complex and interconnected landscape of organizations addressing difficult issues and creating robust community assets that all of our neighborhoods need to thrive.

What is Urban Nature? 

Urban Ecology is based on the radical idea that nature is everywhere. And, the Center works by engaging communities in restoring critical local ecologies - parks, open spaces, river systems, and more - right where they live. These natural spaces tucked amongst towering buildings and city streets are what we call “Urban Nature”.


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