Today, the Laudato Si’ Project visited the Urban Ecology Center at Washington Park, in Milwaukee. Marquette University High School students learned about the history and mission of the Urban Ecology Centers and helped with several projects. The Urban Ecology Center first began on the East Side of Milwaukee at Riverside Park. Concerned citizens organized after proposed building plans were brought forward for Riverside Park. What was discovered through the years was that if an urban park is kept in good condition, facilities are present for neighbors to use, and educational programs are established with local schools- crime and vandalism decrease in the park. Couple this with recreational opportunities for visitors and benefits to wildlife and water quality through restoration- and you have created an urban ecological gem.
The Urban Ecology Center at Washington Park has grown tremendously in the last few years. Within the 125 acres of Washington Park, there is Lagoon with restored shoreline (the lagoon is a remnant of the old Milwaukee Zoo), woodlands in the process of restoration planting, an ephemeral pond, prairie plantings and rain gardens, and even an orchard.
Our initial plans for doing some prairie planting and garlic mustard removal were changed due to the snow and below freezing temperatures. We instead swapped out all their winter rental equipment, snowshoes and cross-country skis, with their summer gear of kayak and canoe paddles. A few students built chair dollies in their wood shop, and others took out the remaining maple syrup spiles and collection bags from their Sugar Maple trees.
The Urban Ecology Centers at Riverside Park , Washington Park, and Menominee Valley (next to Miller Park), are hosting a wide array of Earth Day volunteer opportunities on the weekend of Earth Day, April 22nd. The Laudato Si’ Project will also be visting the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park this Spring to learn about and assist with the migratory bird banding.
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How great it would be if all Catholic high schools could share in your program.