What We Do

Outdoor Leaders (Paid High School Internships)

The Outdoor Leader program at the Urban Ecology Center allows youth to get outside, learn about green careers, make friends, and get paid! It is our goal to provide high school students the resources and guidance to make connections within themselves, their communities, and nature. Outdoor Leaders are a part of our Green Career Pathway program, which engages people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests in studies of ecology, volunteerism, environmental justice, and much more.

New Outdoor Leader sessions begin every summer and fall. During our 8-week summer intensive (June-August), we welcome 18 OLs who participate in training and hands-on work with a variety of departments at the UEC to cultivate understanding and interest in environmental careers. Some of the departments include Land Stewardship, Research, Community Programs, Neighborhood Engagement, Marketing/Photography, Animal Care, Facilities/Maintenance, and more! We also provide our teens with training on leadership, resume and interview skills, public speaking, conflict resolution, and other personal and professional development skills.

The program continues during the school year (September-April) as we welcome nine students to continue learning professional and environmental skills while focusing on a specific department. We believe a well-rounded program should have a balance of hands-on work, education, exploration, and fun!

Outdoor Leaders enjoy and explore the outdoors through biking, canoeing, rock climbing, and hiking. We all connect to nature in different ways. Mindfulness in nature is a theme we teach our students to establish lifelong, generational relationships with the outdoors.

A forest needs a variety of trees, plants, and wildlife to thrive. We call this biodiversity. Much like a forest, we as a community thrives in diversity when people of all backgrounds, cultures, and abilities are part of working towards creating a cleaner, happier, healthier planet. The Outdoor Leader program is committed to bringing together youth in Milwaukee of any background and experience level.


“The best part of being an outdoor leader was working with my team to connect and complete tasks. It was really fun to work together and go outside to experience all sorts of activities. I also loved that I got to learn professional skills that I can incorporate now and in the future.”

“The skills I learned at the Urban Ecology Center were very invaluable. Communication skills, outreach, leadership, initiative skills, etc. really prepared me for the next step of my life.”

Contact Olivia Raasch at
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with questions or more info

For the 22-23 program year, the High School Outdoor Leader program was generously supported by:

Alumbra Innovations Foundation, Inc.

U.S. Forest Service

John T. & Suzanne S. Jacobus Family Foundation:
In memory of Michael Jacobus who was a beloved member of the Urban Ecology Center community and an alumni of the High School Outdoor Leader program. His love of nature lives on through the next generation of environmentalists.


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