6:30 a.m. Friday Oct. 14, 2011. A group of 16 college students began their voyage to Milwaukee, WI, for an overnight field trip. The field trip was for the Natural Resource class Professional Development in Environmental Education and Interpretation. The students were set to tour several facilities throughout the area.
This was the first time that the class has taken this field trip to Milwaukee, but Professor Brenda Lackey changed the location this year to visit another central location that offers jobs for students in natural resources.
"With this field trip, the focus was obviously on urban settings, everything from hands-on interactive museums to grass roots organizations that are making a social impact in their communities because of their education and outreach efforts," Lackey said.
Rosa Narus, senior environmental education/nature interpretation major, said the purpose of the field trip was to gain "a view of different things we could possibly do for a career."
Students visited Discovery World, a technology museum, aquarium and floating classroom.
"Discovery World, behind the scenes, was very forward thinking- -they re-design everything," Narus said. "People learn, interact and come there for classes to help decide what to do in the future. It’s pretty neat."
Next the group visited the Urban Ecology Center, the place where a volunteering experience inspired Narus to attend the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. According to the Urban Ecology Center’s website, "The Urban Ecology Center is a neighborhood based, environmental, education, non-profit community center."
"After that we went to Wehr Nature Center," said Jesse Funk, senior environmental education/ nature interpretation major. "We volunteered for a few hours, helping them set up for a special program."
In the morning the group went to the Harley Davidson Museum. "They’ve been around so long because they constantly re-invent themselves," Narus said. "They allow burnouts and skateboarding on-site because they know their future customers."
"We went to a [Havenwood] nature center that was pretty cool. It started out as a 1920’s jail, and then it was a World War II P.O.W. camp ... now it is a state forest," Funk said.
Havenwood, a 237-acre grassland, woods and wetland in Milwaukee "is an island of green in the city," Narus said. The group’s last stop was Growing Power, the famous urban agriculture center started by Will Allen.
"Growing Power is a non-profit sustainable inner-city farm that brings healthy food to less fortunate neighborhoods," Funk said.
On a tour of Growing Power, the students "got to see the amazing everything, like how efficiently they function on a volunteer base," Narus said. "Many hands make light work is a very efficient way of getting work done."
"They mimic Mother Nature ... using plants, fish and bacteria in a symbiotic relationship to produce food," Funk said.
Afterwards the group piled back into their transports and initiated the voyage home.
Bringing it home
Narus, when asked what made these locations special, said, "It’s all the future thinking--re-inventing themselves and other things as well. They’re ahead of the game--thinking outside of the box. The way the job market is now we need to stay on top of our game; we need to be constantly re-inventing ourselves."
"It was a great experience, very good for the program," Funk said.
When asked for any words of wisdom, Funk responded, "I would like to quote the great Adam Greuel." He stood up and shouted, "Party!" while enthusiastically pumping his fist into the air.