Urban Ecology Center: Making Milwaukee Great

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by Sandra Torres

MILWAUKEE-- The Urban Ecology Center is a unique resource in Milwaukee that many people may not know about. It's a place that brings children and adults together and engages them with nature in a unique way.

A vision that started with a trailer 15 years ago and has now transformed into three different facilities; Riverside Park, Washington Park and Menomonee Valley.

"It's articstic and lovely and at the same time, grounded and educational," said Alison Gima, a Milwaukee resident who takes her daughter to the Riverside Park Center.

The buildings are free to visit, but in order to participate in any of the programs, there's a $25 annual fee.

The idea is to serve children and adults at the same time, though their programs for Children really stand out. One of their programs is called the Neighborhood Environmental Education Project, also known as NEEP. Students from schools all over Milwaukee participate as part of their science curriculum.

"During the school day there's hundreds of kids here for field trips, learning outside, doing animal tracking, water testing in the rivers," said Ken Leinbach, the Executive Director of the Urban Ecology Center.

For Leinbach, every day at the center is an inspiration.

"We have kids that have never been in a canoe before. We have kids in 7th and 8th grade that have never seen Lake Michigan because their home is so structured around their neighborhood and they're just completely blwon away," added Leinbach.

Whether it's winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, there's always something to do.

For more information about the Urban Ecology Center, visit their website: http://urbanecologycenter.org

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