Listen: Growing up, I played little league baseball in Riverside Park and it was hard not to notice the double wide trailer that sat out in right-center field. While it may be hard to imagine given their extremely rapid expansion in recent years, but that was the first physical home of the Urban Ecology Center. And while they still approach their work with a lean and eager mindset, as they prepare to start a third site in the Menomonee Valley, it's worth taking a minute to reflect on how much they've grown.
When Ken Leinbach started as a full-time Executive Director with the UEC 12 years ago, the snapping turtle above was just a baby — talk about growth! In this piece, Ken tells the story of where that snapper came from, starting with a missing toad, stopping on the banks of the Milwaukee River, and ending at the Urban Ecology Center:
Due to the constraints of time, I couldn't jam this piece of tape in the piece, but I totally love it:
Funny enough, when I first started at the station, I edited an interview with Ken (although I didn't conduct the interview) and heard this story for the first time. So when I had a chance to sit down with Ken, I figured I'd do a little story recycling (I knew he'd be down with the recycling thing) and have him retell the story. I just tracked down that first piece in the archives — it was one of the first audio pieces I put together for 88Nine and sounds very different than my second crack at the story:
The Urban Ecology Center! Learn more about them at their website. Also, you can get involved with one of their many volunteer opportunities! Finally, you should just go and check them out in person either at their Riverside Park or Washington Park locations — they're very welcoming people.