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Day Trip: Feed animals or learn winter skills

Urban Ecology Center locations have wealth of activities

MILWAUKEE – The Urban Ecology Center does not let winter stop its activities. With three locations, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and get going.

The Riverside Park branch is the site of the center's main offices. This is a "green" building featuring exhibits and environmental materials. A few of the details to look for include a tower with a climbing wall, a "green" roof garden with a tipi in the winter, art exhibits, and a classroom with animals hidden in murals.

Guests at all three locations can view snakes, frogs, turtles, and fish. They also can help with the feeding of these critters at scheduled times.

The Washington Park branch started in 2007. This area has a lagoon adding to its beauty. At the center, visitors will find canoes, snowshoes, and fishing poles to help them get out into nature. In the right season, gardens complete the scene.

In 2012, the Menomonee Valley location opened to the public. This "green" center used to be the site of a tavern. For fun here, guests can tackle the mini-scavenger hunt, which includes looking for the snake door handle, an exposed wooden wall, and square water containers.

Things to do are readily available at the center. Here is a sample of what can be found there:

• Saturday: 10 to 11 a.m., sustainable coffee tasting at Riverside Park offers a chance to taste coffee from all over the world. Space is limited; register online. The cost is $10 for adults.

• And from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the tipi is open at Riverside Park's rooftop. Staff-led storytime is at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. with a campfire. No charge.

• Also at Riverside, from 1 to 3 p.m. outdoor survival will be taught. Participants will find out how to build a fire and shelter, as well as collect water. The cost is $9 for adults and $7 for children. Register online.

• Animal feeding is from 1 to 2 p.m. at Riverside and 1 to 1:30 p.m. at the other two branches. There is no charge.

• Feb. 15: At Menomonee, visitors can learn how to track animals while in snowshoes. The cost is $9 for adults and $7 for children. The session is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Registration is needed.

• Washington Park has an introduction to snowshoeing from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The snowshoes are provided, as well as hot chocolate. Participants will need waterproof footwear. The instruction is for children 12 and older accompanied by an adult, and adults. The cost is $9 for adults and $7 for the children. Sign-up is required.

• At Riverside, the tipi is open during center hours. The program is self-led with a campfire every Saturday this month.

Many other activities are available at the Urban Ecology Center. A complete list can be found at its website. If paying a winter visit, a different view can be obtained by returning when the chill turns into warmth.

If you go

What: Urban Ecology Center

Where: Milwaukee

Three locations: Riverside Park, 1500 E. Park Place; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; 414-964-8505

Washington Park, 1859 N. 40th St.; 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 414-344-5460

Menomonee Valley, 3700 W. Pierce St.; noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 414-431-2940

Cost: Varies with activities. Most are $9 for adults and $7 for children

Information: Visit

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