I've been a volunteer with the Urban Ecology Center for the last 15 years, during which it has grown from occupying a double-wide trailer in Riverside Park to now serving over 50 schools with ecology/science educational programs from centers in three different areas of Milwaukee, with over 70 full and part-time employees, and a wide array of programming for children, families and adults. Meanwhile, important but previously neglected or abandoned open spaces are being restored, planted, and turned into active community resources. Crime is down, schools are more successful, and neighborhoods are stronger and more alive. What's not to like?
I've watched, and been a part of the Center's growth -- from a Friends of the Park group, to providing environmental education field trips to classes from neighborhood schools, to offering a broad science/environmental education curriculum out of a double-wide trailer, to becoming a full-fledged nature center/urban environmental education center/community center in a wonderfully green, comfortable, and inviting 20,000 sq ft building, and to serving schools and neighborhoods in another area of Milwaukee from a branch Center in another large park. The Center's collaborations and partnerships with other organizations -- community groups, environmental organizations, educational institutions, artists and performers, gardeners and urban farmers, etc -- are among its great strengths. I've been a volunteer and board member of many nonprofit organizations, and UEC has been unique in being virtually free from ego struggles, turf battles, personal agendas, and the like. Even when hard work, or complex and difficult tasks need to be accomplished, volunteering at UEC has always been fun and satisfying. And, best of all, interesting, caring and friendly people are always part of the equation there!
I have been involved with the UEC for almost a year now, and I think the work they are doing to revitalize the communities surrounding their 2 (soon to be 3) locations is outstanding. And I feel like I would be hard pressed to find a more passionate and welcoming staff. I like that they offer so many ways to be involved in the work they do, education, citizen science, land stewardship, urban sustainability, community building, etc. There is a place for everyone at the UEC!
Review from Guidestar
The Urban Ecology Center (UEC) is a most efficient educator of Milwaukee's youth. Educating youth on the environment may be the the UEC's stated major mission. However, I believe that the UEC is even more valuable in helping youth of all socio-economic backgrounds develop reasoning skills, develop values necessary for maintaining society, and gain the ability to work with others. The UEC facilitates value exchange between generations.
In an age of working parents and shrinking school budgets, I believe that the UEC is the place to invest in our future.
Review from Guidestar
The UEC brings together so many different elements for me it is difficult to describe its impact on the Greater Milwaukee community. Truly a neighborhood based organization that has primary mission of bringing inner city kids to nature, the UEC is a model for cities everywhere that want citizens to get out and appreciate the out of doors. Sustainability and enjoyment of the world around us in an urban setting has blossomed into a huge, multi-faceted set of programs serving all parts of the community from bird watching to snowshoe