Riveredge is Seeking Homeschool Education Volunteers

For a decade, Riveredge Nature Center has hosted a premier Homeschool Program helping families add science, environmental education, and inquiry-based outdoor exploration to their home curriculum. In the current Covid-19 landscape, the Riveredge Homeschool Ed-Ventures Program is seeing unprecedented registration, and has even added an extra day of homeschool scheduling. As a result, Riveredge is seeking additional volunteers to aid in homeschool education efforts.

Homeschool volunteers help inspire young learners about the great outdoors. Every other week on either Monday,  Wednesday, or Friday, homeschool students come from all over southeast Wisconsin to Riveredge Nature Center to learn about science and the environment. Homeschool Assistants are responsible for aiding our education staff in keeping the group together while outdoors, supervising for short periods, helping students with their activities and crafts, and creating a safe, positive environment for students. Consistency is preferred, must be able to hike up to 1 mile on unpaved terrain. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday shifts are available. Each shift is from 8:45am-12:15pm. Please follow this link to complete our volunteer application and receive training. As these volunteers will have direct interaction with children, a background check is required.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Volunteers are protected by a mask requirement for themselves and all guests of the program while indoors or unable to social distance 6ft apart. Additionally, Riveredge can provide clear face shields for volunteers who would like to wear them. Learning tools are wiped down between volunteers and cleaning spray is available to volunteers to re-wipe any area if guests touch surfaces. We have separate enter and exit doors to keep traffic flow going in one direction. If you have additional questions regarding our COVID-19 procedures please feel free to contact us.

For additional information, please contact Kacey Tait, Riveredge Inquiry-Based Curriculum and Instruction Manager (also copied in this email) at ktait@riveredge.us or (262)375-2715 x13.

Diversity Outdoors, Part 2

July 23, 2020

Dear Riveredge Family,

 

We promised to keep you updated on our work in decreasing systemic barriers for communities of color when accessing the outdoors. 

Since sharing our last reflections with you, we’ve had friends of Riveredge ask us to communicate the work we are already, and have been, engaged in to ensure access to Riveredge for communities throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Others have asked us to clarify our position. We have appreciated hearing all of these comments. Our intent is always to be transparent, honest, and work to build bridges, through nature, within our communities. 

Riveredge supports our local communities and values our strong partnerships with a wide variety of organizations, municipalities, institutions, and community members. We are grateful for the dedicated work of our local police and county sheriff departments, and thankful for all they do to serve not only Riveredge but all of our neighbors and communities.  

Our mission-based work on better serving diverse audiences is centered around equitable access to the natural world. Access which currently has many barriers for communities of color.  We are working to identify and address these barriers at Riveredge. 

For more than 20 years, Riveredge has been involved in transformative partnerships to provide access to many urban Milwaukee schools for learning, engagement, and exploration. Through several different partnerships, over 1,500 students in 65+ different classes come to Riveredge each year. As with other school partnerships, students engage in inquiry and science-based learning explorations in the prairies, forests, and rivers. 

One of the many goals of these partnerships is to help people develop a broader sense of community and sense of place through immersive experiences in the fully restored natural world at Riveredge. Exploring the Milwaukee River and natural world in a non-urban setting and comparing these observations to those in an urban setting leads to further learning in multiple subject areas. In fact, one of our goals at Riveredge is to also develop partnerships with rural and suburban schools to support the same, yet reverse, experience for their students. The beauty of the Milwaukee River as it runs through an urban environment can be just as inspirational for students who have only been exposed to nature in less populated areas. Additionally, what is discovered downstream toward Lake Michigan is an accumulation of everything that makes its way into a river upstream.  The parallels between learning about nature in both urban and rural environments can help us all draw better understandings about commonalities in our urban and rural communities. 

Partnerships have been fundamental at Riveredge to better serve populations who have barriers to accessing nature. Our partnership with the Ozaukee County Aging & Disability Resource Center has resulted in a nature-based “Memory Cafe” for individuals with memory challenges and their caregivers. This program  has introduced time in nature as a healing tool for this community. Similarly, we were elated when Access Ability Wisconsin reached out to us to place an all-terrain wheelchair at Riveredge so that all people, regardless of physical ability, could access the beauty and adventure of the 10-miles of trails at Riveredge. Both of these partnerships have provided more equitable access to nature for many people at Riveredge.

Our pledge to do better in providing equitable access to Riveredge for communities of color is a further step along this path of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Specifically, we are currently….

  • Making plans for an organization-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion audit to help us better understand the current environment at Riveredge and our strengths and opportunities for improvement in this area. We are hoping to continue our work with Cream City Conservation on this effort and are currently seeking funding to support the implementation of this audit.
  • Pursuing regional discussions about how the Milwaukee River can be used as a conduit to address the urban – rural divide in southeastern Wisconsin. As an organization which strives to connect our communities to the Milwaukee River Watershed, we believe the work to use this natural resource as a figurative and literal connection between communities can be enhanced and further developed.
  • Seeking meaningful partnerships with other organizations to better serve communities of color both at Riveredge and through programming efforts within the communities of southeastern Wisconsin. Just as with all of Riveredge’s significant efforts, true partnerships create greater impact. We do not pretend to be experts in this area, yet we look forward to discovering ways that the beauty, inspiration, and education at Riveredge can be better shared within our communities. 
  • Identifying ways to further our education about diversity, equity and inclusion topics for our staff and Board of Directors team. Education is an ongoing process, and we pledge to continue this journey in the months and years to come.

We can not do this work alone, and we can not do it effectively without working with others. We look forward to the months and years to come with optimism, opportunity, and hope, and inevitably some of this process will be a struggle. We strive to continue the work of better serving our community through the act of listening, dialog, and relationship building. 

Thank you for being part of this Riveredge Family. Thank you for believing in the importance of the natural world and in the critical work to ensure it is accessible for everyone.

 

With Great Gratitude,

 

 

 

Jessica Jens, Executive Director

  

Diversity Outdoors

 

Dear Riveredge Family,

On June 5, we shared our reflections and solidarity on the movement to end systemic racism in our society  on our social media channels and website

“As a historically and predominantly white-led environmental organization, we realize there is much ground to cover in diversifying the outdoors, and many reasons why Black Americans and People of Color haven’t always felt welcome in wilderness spaces. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and the need for systemic change in our society. Riveredge Nature Center is a sanctuary where each person can embrace, celebrate, and revel in experiencing the wonders nature has to offer. We pledge to continue to improve the way we make these opportunities available to better serve our communities.

Black Lives Matter. Black Birders Matter. Black Experiences Matter.

Education is an ongoing process, and in-step with the Riveredge inquiry-based philosophy, we’re always trying to improve our understanding of our place in the world and how we can better serve the outdoor adventure community.”

Since that time, we have all continued to reflect on our beliefs, personal biases, privileges, and the realities of experiences that are unfamiliar to us. To be part of a community of change, we must first change ourselves. 

The environmental and outdoor fields have struggled, and continue to struggle, to engage and serve Black people and People of Color. The way our society arrived at the outdoors and nature being inherently NOT a privilege for all extends back to the very moment these remarkable tracks of wilderness and wild spaces were created as such, and for whom they were intended to serve at that time. We encourage you to visit Diversify Outdoors to hear for yourself stories from those who have been distanced and separated from the natural world. 

James Edward Mills, climber, journalist, author, and Madison, Wisconsin resident briefly outlines some of the reasons behind this legacy in his book The Adventure Gap:

“Historical reasons may also account for why some African-Americans don’t take pleasure in outdoor experiences. After four hundred years of slavery and forced outdoor labor, African-Americans migrated en masse to major US cities after the Civil War and the end of slavery. Even more left the rural communities of the South during the Great Depression. Jim Crow laws and other forms of discrimination restricted movement and segregated minorities to urban enclaves until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. White supremacist groups typically perpetrated their acts of violence against minorities in wooded areas beyond city limits. Given this legacy, it’s no wonder that African-Americans have often preferred to remain close to home.” 

Mills elaborates on how these factors influence current day demographics: 

“A 2010 Outdoor Recreation Participation survey conducted by the Outdoor Foundation reported that of 137.8 million US citizens engaged in outdoor activities, 80 percent were Caucasiona, a trend that is also reflected in the demographics of those who chose wilderness protection as a career. The National Park Service reported in 2010 that white men occupied 51 percent of positions at that agency and white women, 29 percent. These numbers are similar to those of other land and resource management agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. 

These statistics become significant when compared against the demographic profile of the nation as a whole. According to Dr. Nina Roberts, an assistant professor and social scientist from San Francisco State University, though African-Americans represent 12.6 percent of the US population, they typically make up a lower proportion of national park visitors (around 5-6 percent, depending on the region). Even with a sharp increase since 2006, “minorities still remain well below the number of visits of their white counterparts in proportion to their population across the United States,” says Roberts.”

At Riveredge, we work every day to connect our communities with the outdoor world, and we know that we must do our part to help bridge this gap. 

We do not yet have a complete list of specific action steps that we will take to correct our own struggles in serving communities of color. But we do want you: our neighbors, members, and friends, to know that we have begun this work. Over the past year, the Riveredge staff team has engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training with the intent to create lasting organizational change in the coming months and years. Within our staff and Board, we are working on plans to further accelerate and prioritize this overdue work. Our goal is to create change within our organization and contribute to change within the culture of outdoor access and environmental education  in the coming year and years to come. 

We know we can do better. We will do better. It will take all of us. And the time is now. 

We will continue to keep you apprised of our progress, invitations for involvement, and action to further our growth as an organization and continue our work to serve our communities more effectively each and every day. 

 

With Great Gratitude,

Jessica Jens, Executive Director

Elizabeth Larsen,  President, Board of Directors

Riveredge COVID-19 Update: Visitor’s Center Closed, Future Programs Cancelled, Trails Open

Dear Community,

Due to the increasing spread of COVID-19, directives from state and federal government, and the need for us all to work together to flatten the curve, Riveredge Nature Center’s Visitor Center, programming, events, and volunteer groups will be closed and cancelled until Tuesday, May 26.  As that date approaches, we will reassess to determine if operations may be reinstated.

If you need to contact a staff member, please visit our staff directory for emails and phone extensions. Voicemails will be forwarded to the staff’s email.

In these challenging times, we know that nature can help provide a respite from the uncertainty around us. Because of this, the Riveredge staff is working to ensure the continuation of our mission. We’re starting the #RiveredgeVirtualNaturalist video series, which you can view here, as well as on our Riveredge Facebook Page. Stay tuned to Riveredge’s social media accounts and email for opportunities to learn more about the natural world in your backyard, get creative outdoors with your family, and for technical help with improving your land management skills – all through the power of online communication.

The 10 miles of Riveredge trails will remain open from dawn until dusk, and we hope that you’ll come and enjoy them!  When you do, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Directions and trail maps are available on our website.
  • Printed trail maps are available at most trail heads.
  • Please follow Leave No Trace principles when hiking at Riveredge.
  • To protect the migratory and ground nesting birds, no dogs are allowed at Riveredge. Complete explanation and alternative local dog-friendly locations here.
  • Trail fees are $5/person or $15/family per day for non-members.
  • Trail access is free for members. Membership begins at only $40 per household for an entire year of access.
  • Families with a 4th grade student are eligible for a free family membership.
  • Built outhouses are available just southeast of the Visitor’s Center by the yurts and noted on the trail map. A port-a-john is also available in the west parking lot near Newburg.
  • It’s best to bring a full water bottle with you.
  • You can purchase Riveredge Maple Syrup and maple candies, Riveredge apparel, and other goodies through the Riveredge Nature Store, which are then picked up through curbside delivery. All purchases must be made online and can be picked up during our normal business hours (the Visitor’s Center will remain closed to the public). This is a great way to support Riveredge during this time!

As our friends at the Association of Nature Center Administrators shared, “…access to trails and open spaces are going to be critical to people at this time. They are havens, allowing for recreation and activity when people are discouraged from being in large crowds…

In fact, we’ve already begun hearing the croaking call of Sandhill Cranes flying overhead and the song-filled warblers won’t be far behind. Pretty soon you’ll begin to see the delicate blooms of spring ephemeral flowers along the trail, and the skunk cabbage has already begun to emerge! In this time of social distancing, we’re going to crave the health benefits offered by nature more than ever.

We know that this is a challenging time for all of us, yet by observing nature, we also know that we will overcome. We will work together and become a stronger Riveredge Family through the challenges we face today.

Keep Smiling & Get Outside,

Jessica Jens

Executive Director

Sugarin’ Day For Scouts, Maple Sugarin’ Festival, and Pancake Breakfast Canceled Due to COVID-19 Concerns

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has recommended canceling all non-essential gatherings of 250 people or more. With safety in mind, Riveredge Nature Center has canceled the March 14 Sugarin’ Day For Scouts, March 21 Maple Sugarin’ Festival, and April 4 Pancake Breakfast.

Just as with any program canceled by Riveredge, refunds will be issued to people who have pre-registered for the Scouts Day, Maple Sugarin’ Festival, and Pancake Breakfast.

At the present time, the Riveredge Visitor’s Center will remain open during regularly scheduled hours. All other Riveredge programs with smaller expected attendance are currently scheduled to take place as planned.

Riveredge trails will remain open sunup to sundown.

Our paramount concern is the health and safety of Riveredge members, volunteers, staff, and guests. Riveredge staff will continue to monitor this evolving situation and will update accordingly based on the most up-to-date information available.

 

Jessica Jens

Executive Director, Riveredge Nature Center

RIVEREDGE FAMILY TIES: The Haislmaiers

Sue Haislmaier and her husband Dan recently attended the Barn Dance at Riveredge in October with her daughter’s family who was visiting from Montana. Following their visit, Sue shared the following testimony of her family’s connection with Riveredge through the years. A connection that continues today…..

“… all three of our kids were involved at Riveredge and are now
environmental advocates as adults. My grandkids know me as
the grandparent that likes to explore outside when we visit them.

I recently looked at old family slides and found a couple from the
year our son found the Yule Log around ‘82. We still have the
slice of log cookie memento from that find.

In those days I became known as “Nature Mom” with one of the
first naturalized yards in the area. I have served as a volunteer
Teacher Naturalist at Riveredge since the late ‘70’s and continue
to teach maple syruping program in the spring. I served on the
board of directors in the ‘80’s as well as chaired and participated
in many events throughout the years. The kids remember me
at a Halloween Hike as “a leaf pile” when I would rise from a
heap on the ground in my camouflaged cape to give a lesson on
composting and worms.

Riveredge holds a dear place in my heart and mind. Knowing
that, my kids gifted me with a tree for my birthday this year that
will be planted in the spring, I look forward to a place on the
landscape to visit frequently.”

~ Sue Haislmaier, Riveredge Kid since 1968

 

You can help ensure that even more families have the opportunity to make memories like these in the coming year and decades. Support the passing of the torch and the next generation of environmental stewards. By making a gift to the annual fund, your generosity will do just that. Visit www.riveredgenaturecenter.org/donate to make your charitable contribution this holiday season.

On behalf of everyone at Riveredge Nature Center, thank you for being a part of the family!

Giving thanks for the Riveredge Family

Dear Riveredge Family,

I wish I could invite you all over for a gigantic Thanksgiving Feast. I’d make a huge pumpkin pie served with lots of hand-whipped cream. I’d raise you the best heritage turkey and serve it with Riveredge grown butternut squash. And for our vegetarian friends, I’d make sure to have lots and lots of Riveredge beets, potatoes, apple cider, and hazelnuts on the menu as well. We’d top it all off with maple syrup, and maybe a side course of pancakes…of course!

The magical world of Riveredge Nature Center only occurs because of the Riveredge Family. Thank you for being part of that family. If you volunteer…thank you. If you hike the trails…thank you. If you join the fun of the Frothy Forage, Pancake Breakfast, or Farm-to-Table Dinner…thank you. If you spend your days learning, growing, and exploring at Riveredge…thank you. If you choose Riveredge as a recipient of a charitable gift…thank you.

For, you see, we can’t do any of this alone. We can only change the world, and make it a bit brighter every day, through joining hands and doing this work together.

If I was able to pull off a gigantic Thanksgiving feast for the Riveredge Family, I’d need a really, really, big table. In the year ahead, we’d like to make that table even larger!

So as a way to further inspire folks to choose a nature-rich life outdoors, we are opening the trails at Riveredge from Thursday – Sunday free of charge. As this holiday season begins, we invite you to celebrate great company amidst the scent of cedars, the tussle of tumbling leaves, the calming flow of the Milwaukee River. Invite the poeple in your life to experience this magical nature preserve made possible by YOU, the Riveredge Family.

So, after you are done passing the pumpkin pie, spread the word and share this little piece of heaven on earth. Come for a hike at Riveredge and bring the entire extended family, friends, and anyone else who has a seat at your Thanksgiving Table.

And, most importantly, please know the incredible gratitude we have for YOU not only today, but every day of every year. You make a difference!

 

With great gratitude,

Jessica Jens
Executive Director
Riveredge Kid Since 2013

 

 

Opt Outside this Weekend!

Riveredge Nature Center buildings will be closed Thursday, November 28 and re-opening Monday, December 2. As always, our trails are open sunup to sundown and for this Thanksgiving weekend we’re thanking our community by inviting everyone to opt outside and explore Riveredge free of charge! 


With more than 379 acres of land and ten miles of meandering trails, wild Wisconsin is closer than you imagine. Lose yourself in one of the most beautifully restored natural sanctuaries in southeastern Wisconsin. With prairies, woods, ponds, and over one mile of Milwaukee River shoreline, you’ll always have something new to explore at Riveredge.


Wisconsin’s gun deer hunting season takes place Saturday, November 23 – Sunday, December 1. Riveredge Nature Center does not permit any hunting on the grounds. We are, however, located in a rural area and surrounded by other rural farm and forested properties. For sake of safety, we encourage everyone to wear blaze orange and bright colors while exploring the outdoors, throughout Wisconsin, during this time of year.

Riveredge Announces Artist Sally Duback for River Outpost Artwork

Original architectural rendering of The River Outpost facility at Riveredge Nature Center.

Riveredge Nature Center has selected Mequon-based artist Sally Duback to create community-based artwork for display surrounding its new River Outpost Building. Duback has spent the last 30 years creating her own artworks, as well as engaging in community art collaborations throughout the region. Some of her prior community-based artworks can be seen at Virmond Park, the Niederkorn Public Library, Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center, Messmer Elementary School, and the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

Artist Sally Duback

For this project, community participants are invited to mold and paint clay artworks that relate to their experiences with the Milwaukee River and Watershed, which Duback will then fire, arrange, and incorporate into sculptural pieces to be installed permanently near the River Outpost Building. “I am so pleased to have the opportunity to create this work with the Riveredge community and to engage participants in the project as a visual conversation about the Milwaukee River watershed. Any time I am able to create a work of public art that deals with environmental issues is a win/win for me,” said Duback.

A recent collaborative community artwork by Sally Duback, on display in Virmond Park.

This opportunity takes place through a Mary L. Nohl grant awarded to Riveredge to create and display community-based artworks at its River Outpost facility, the focus of which is water-related education. The Mary L. Nohl Fund, among the largest funds created at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, invests in local arts education programs and projects.

Upcoming Public Community Art Engagement Events

Riveredge and Duback welcome people to participate in creating artworks during community events, and which can eventually be displayed along Riveredge’s Milwaukee River trails.

Currently scheduled events include the following dates and locations:

River Outpost Celebration at Riveredge | Friday, September 20

Sturgeon Fest in Milwaukee’s Lakeshore State Park | Saturday, September 28

Music in the Mushroom – A Historic Riverside Celebration at Riveredge | Saturday, October 12

Woodland Pattern Book Center | Saturday, November 9 at 2:00pm

Findings of Milwaukee Public Museum Riveredge BioBlitz

Researchers at the Riveredge BioBlitz.

24-Hour BioBlitz Uncovers Stunning Species Diversity at Riveredge

Scientists from Milwaukee Public Museum arrived on the afternoon of Friday, June 14 to spend 24 hours at Riveredge Nature Center for the 2019 BioBlitz – a quest to discover as many species as possible in 24 hours.

MPM research scientists, students, and lovers of nature visited Riveredge to forage throughout the Center’s 379 acres of various restored habitats to find as many plants and animals as possible.

Riveredge Land Manager Matt Smith discussing species with botanists Dr. Robert Freckmann and Dr. Lawrence Leitner.

Riveredge has “enormous richness”

Dr. Robert Freckmann, who began his botany career in 1959 and for whom the Herbarium at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point is named, was one of many researchers on-hand to participate in the 24-hour celebration of science. “It’s going to be interesting to see how many species we can come up with in 24 hours, but I think that’s more a function of the number of botanists and their level of energy than it is the place,” said Dr. Freckmann.

“This place has enormous richness, and all we can do [in 24 hours] is get a small sample of it,” added Freckmann.

BioBlitz at Riveredge Findings

Both MPM and Riveredge staff were pleased to document a grand total of 1,254 species within 24 hours across the Riveredge property! This total is the highest number of any of the 5 total locations surveyed since MPM started its annual BioBlitz program. A playful debate ensued about whether to include examples of the Lake Sturgeon, which Riveredge raises onsite for the Return the Sturgeon program.

BioBlitz Species Highlights

UW-Madison mycological students determining species at Riveredge.
UW-Madison students Carl Kemp and Celeste Huff determining fungi species.
  • Dr. John Zaborsky | UW-Madison – reported 536 plant species including garden plants, highlights include Small Yellow lady’s-slipper & rare Handsome Sedge.
  • Gina LaLiberte | Wisconsin DNR – found 120 species of microplants including cynobacteria, red algae, and several species of euglena in the Vernal Pond.
  • Dr. Suzanne Joneson | UW-Waukesha – found 31 species of lichens, which she surmised indicates a “happy forest.”
  • Birds 80 species seen, including Ruffed Grouse and Pileated Woodpecker.
  • Mammals – 16 species, including humans, the highlight being a Southern Flying Squirrel.
  • 343 species of insects were discovered; of which 180 were Lepidopterans (moths & butterflies).
  • Findings of 21 species of fish (22 if you count sturgeon). Highlights include Brown Trout, Iowa Darter, and Mottled Sculpin.
  • Riveredge was the first of the BioBlitz locations surveyed where invasive Jumping Worms were not found.
MPM BioBlitz at Riveredge Nature Center

Reaping Biodiversity Benefits through Long-term Conservation

“Riveredge was one of the first locations in the region to begin restoring habitats, and we have such a diversity of habitat in this immediate area – from wetlands to dry and wet prairies to creeks, marshland, forests and woodlands – and of course the mile of Milwaukee River banks for which Riveredge is named,” said Jessica Jens, Riveredge Executive Director. “I’m pleased by the number of species documented – I was hoping we’d surpass 1,200, but must admit I’m not entirely surprised by the huge number of species that were found,” said Jens.

University of Marquette students speak with a birder overlooking a restored prairie Friday evening. At that moment he’d reported 23 bird species.

“I see the passion, care, and work that goes into our 379 acres everyday and these findings are evidence of not only the work we put in every day at Riveredge, but the legacy of caretakers who came before us,” said Jens.

A Public Science Extravaganza

BioBlitz
BioBlitz participants learning about bees through one of the BioBlitz partners in attendance.

A BioBlitz is a unique occasion in that it’s a science event in which, during a portion, the public is invited to participate and learn alongside researchers. Several partner organizations throughout the region were on-hand to engage the public about populations of local plants, rodents, bees, fireflies, large mammals, and other species.

Farm Pond at Riveredge Nature Center.
A family searches for frogs at Farm Pond during the BioBlitz.

In at least one occasion, members of the public found species that researchers had not yet documented. On Saturday afternoon, a young girl presented researchers with a Painted Lady Butterfly that had yet to be discovered during the BioBlitz.

Researchers at the Vernal Pond
Researchers finding frogs and Tiger Salamander larvae at Vernal Pond.

Riveredge is a Year-round Nature Sanctuary

The BioBlitz only lasted 24 hours, but at Riveredge Nature Center, you can experience this rich tapestry of diverse plants and wildlife year-round. Our 10 miles of trails are open 7 days a week from sunup to sundown for hiking, strolling, birding, sauntering, running, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Become a member of Riveredge today and begin exploring your nature!

Prairie Flowers are Beginning to Blossom at Riveredge

Within the past week prairie plants have shot up from the soil throughout Riveredge! Many are not yet blooming, but some have begun to display flowers. These pictures were taking in the last few days, and are a few of the plants you can find flowering throughout the prairies.

This weekend Riveredge hosts the Milwaukee Public Museum BioBlitz – a 24-hour celebration and race to find the most species in an area. Join us for free on Saturday, June 15 for the public portion of the BioBlitz from 10:00am – 3:00pm to meet MPM scientists and learn about their research. What’s a BioBlitz? Learn more here.

Daisy Fleabane at Riveredge Nature Center.

Daisy Fleabane Erigeron strigosus is blooming aplenty along the trails. This one is perfect for kids to learn to identify as it’s about perfect eye level for a three-year-old.

Red Clover at Riveredge Nature Center

Red Clover Trifolium pratense is a favorite of Bumblebees and increases soil fertility. Red Clover leaves and flowers are edible and it can even be ground into flour.

Slender Penstemon at Riveredge Nature Center

Slender Penstemon Penstemon gracilis also known as Slender Beardtongue is in the Snapdragon family. These can be seen in our Dry Prairie.

White Wild Indigo at Riveredge Nature Center

White Wild Indigo Baptisia alba is just barely beginning to show flowers. This showy legume grows tall and wide in the prairie, shaped like a bush. Despite how pretty it looks, this plant is toxic for humans and cows to eat.

Spiderwort Tradescantia occidentalis is just beginning to blossom and is immediately recognizable by the bright yellow anther against the purple backdrop. This species is named after John Tradescant the Younger (1608 – 1662), who was the head gardener for King Charles I of England.

Prairie Smoke at Riveredge Nature Center

Prairie Smoke Geum triflorum is beginning to display the reason for its name. The flower opens to display a wispy plume that blows in the the wind like a flowery smoke.

A few Sand Coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata are just beginning to bloom at our Lorrie Otto Prairie. The interesting thing about Riveredge is that sometimes the same species in different locations will bloom at slightly different times depending on sunlight, soil type, and other factors.

Virginia Waterleaf at Riveredge Nature Center

Virginia Waterleaf Hydrophyllum virginianum looks like a flower that’s straight out of a Dr. Seuss book! These fascinating flowers can be found in shadier spots along the trails.

Blue False Indigo at Riveredge Nature Center

False Blue Indigo Baptisia australis is also known as Wild Blue Indigo and has many other colloquial names. It’s very similar in appearance to White Wild Indigo pictured above, but with deep blue-purple leaves, which seem presently a little farther along in blooming than the white.

Wild Four O’clock Mirabilis nyctaginea can be found beginning to bloom just outside of the backdoor the Riveredge Visitor’s Center. This plant is named for the time of day during which its flowers tend to open. This picture was taken around noon, and one could anticipate a showier flower later in the afternoon.

White Campion at Riveredge Nature Center

White Campion Silene latifolia is another that can be found close to the Visitor’s Center, and was introduced to North America in the early 1800’s. It’s flower petals tend to retract during the day.

Blue Flag Iris Iris versicolor is not a prairie plant, in fact it grows on the edges of ponds or along streams, but it’s blooming right now in its full splendor. Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, indicating its variety of colors.

Stop by and see what you discover at Riveredge – make sure to visit for the Milwaukee Public Museum BioBlitz on Saturday, June 15 from 10:00am!