Riveredge Native Plant Sale

The Riveredge Native Plant Sale is going on now. A selection of woodland and prairie plants are available as well as some rare plants like leatherwood and ginseng. More varieties will be added during the summer. So, if you don’t find what you are looking for, come back for another look throughout the summer growing season.

You can plant potted plants until mid-September as long as the ground is not frozen.

Please note!

These plants are not like commercial plants. Their dormancy period may vary and be especially noticeable toward the end of the summer. So, when you purchase the plant it may not appear as it would at the peak of its growth. Just plant and enjoy it – you will eventually have a beautiful plant.

Water freshly planted plants weekly if there is no rain. Do this the following year as well. Water until the ground freezes.

Meet Caroline

Caroline grew up at Riveredge, or as she calls it, “the best backyard you can ever imagine”. Riveredge gave her a place to get out and explore nature and simulated a deep love of the outdoors that helped shape her future.

Today Caroline is in Washington D.C. completing a prestigious fellowship with the NOAA and has spent time studying invasive species in Lake Michigan and presenting her research to the entire nation.

Riveredge helped Caroline realize that science was not just a hobby but could actually be a career. 

We’re building a movement to bring the outdoors to families, schools, and neighborhoods. There’s so many Carolines out there just waiting to be inspired. We need your help to inspire them.

Please contribute to the movement today. Your support means everything. 


A Symbolic Migration

The sturgeon homeschool (grades 6-8) sent paper “symbolic migrating ambassador butterflies” to Mexico as part of an international conservation effort to highlight the importance of the Monarch butterflies to the people of the United States, Canada and Mexico. Last fall, when the monarch butterflies left Wisconsin to migrate to Mexico, each Sturgeon homeschooler created a symbolic […]

A Special Broadcast


with John Gurda

premieres Wednesday, April 22, at 8 pm on Milwaukee Public TV/Channel 10 

Riveredge was fortuante to have John film parts of this documentary during our 2013 & 2014 Sturgeon release event – Sturgeon Fest.  We encourage all to learn more about Milwaukee and the historic significance of water in our home region.

Water was the resource that put Milwaukee on the map.  It ensured that there would be a harbor here — the best on the western shore of Lake Michigan — and that settlers would come here to earn a living.  The city’s rivers were harnessed to grind flour and saw lumber, to tan leather, cool machinery, and brew the residents’ favorite beverage.

Water has been an important resource for play, too.  Our waterways have hosted canoe clubs, beer gardens, swimming schools, ice races, and amusement parks.  In 1929, Lincoln Memorial Drive debuted as one of the most spectacular stretches of shoreline on the Great Lakes.

MILWAUKEE: A CITY BUILT ON WATER, written and hosted by historian John Gurda, tells the full story of our relationship with local waterways in a fast-paced one-hour documentary, richly illustrated with rare film and photos.  

I thought you would have a special interest in the program, and invite you to join us for its premiere broadcast this coming Wednesday, April 22, from 8-9 pm, only on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10.  Here’s a preview: http://support.mptv.org/site/PageNavigator/Celebrate_Earth_Day_Milwaukee_A_City_Built_on_Water.html.

Gurda takes the story up to the present day, documenting how we have developed the areas along our lake and rivers, the history of abuses of our waterways, and today’s efforts to revive and preserve this most important resource.  He recently wrote about the production in his column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/milwaukees-watery-past-b99473488z1-298642701.html.

MILWAUKEE: A CITY BUILT ON WATER reunites the production team of Gurda and producer Claudia Looze, who were primarily responsible for the multi-Emmy Award-winning MPTV mini-series THE MAKING OF MILWAUKEE.

Produced in cooperation with WisconsinEye, MILWAUKEE: A CITY BUILT ON WATER  has been funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Lynde B. Uihlein, the Brookby Foundation, the Fund for Lake Michigan, Badger Meter Foundation, and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

If you are unable to watch the premiere broadcast, you can catch these repeat airings: Thursday, April 23, at 9 pm on Channel 36; Friday, April 24, at 3 am on Channel 10; and Monday, April 27, at 4 am on Channel 36.  You will also be able to view the entire program after its initial broadcast at mptv.org.


Join Our Tree Climbing Team

Love recreational tree climbing?

It’s hard to explain the feeling when you are climbing a tree and spend a quiet moment among its top branches–the rustle of the leaves in the wind, the feeling of closeness to nature. To mold and inspire responsible environmental decision making and behavior, you must first transform minds into ones that love the natural world.  To do this, one must create authentic opportunities to be touched by nature.  This is why we believe so strongly in recreational tree climbing at Riveredge.  Its adventuresome approach lures youth and adults into the woods; its unique method of engaging participants with the trees within forests inspires a new way of thinking about nature.  The respect toward the trees which is modeled by the facilitators (each tree we climb even has its own name) challenges thinking in youth and adults. Discussions on the impact on the forest floor and steps taken to limit any harm to the trees teach about environmental responsibility. This is how recreational tree climbing actively, and effectively, helps promote responsible, adventuresome outdoor participation.

We want you as a tree climbing facilitator at Riveredge! The interest we’ve received in our recreational tree climbing program (started in 2014) has quickly exceeded our capacity.  We are looking for a crew of additional tree climbing facilitators.  Training fees will be covered in exchange for leading an amount of tree climbing programs for Riveredge. After that barter, you’ll be paid for any programs you lead!

Save the date for our tree climbing training week in June if you’re interested in learning more yourself -or- becoming a tree climbing facilitator.  Our friends from Tree Climbing Colorado and the Global Organization of Tree Climbers (GOTC) will be back in Wisconsin and leading both training opportunities:

  • Learn the basics of recreational tree climbing so you can climb trees in your own backyard: Sunday, June 7 – Monday, June 8.   Completion of this course will provide you with your Basic Tree Climbing approved training.  Cost: $495 (*free for tree climbing facilitators in training)
  • Learning those basics PLUS becoming a trained tree climbing facilitator for Riveredge: Sunday, June 7 – Thursday, June 11. Successful completion of course will provide you with your Basic Tree Climbing training plus Facilitators certification. Cost: free*

Come, join the fun team at Riveredge and bring groups of kids, families and adults into the tree tops! We’d love to have you join us.

For more information, read: Advanced Tree Climbing Opportunities @ Riveredge

Contact Jessica Jens, Executive Director, for additional details and to register (262-416-1068; jjens@riveredge.us)

Redefining Nature Centers

Riveredge is more than a nature center. Its legacy of innovation, partnerships, and leadership in the areas of land restoration, research, and inquiry-based education throughout Wisconsin serve as strong foundation to its future initiatives.  Today, Riveredge is pioneering methods of redefining a community’s relationship to a nature center. Riveredge is achieving its mission by empowering and supporting communities to live in harmony with their natural environment…oh, and having fun it in too.

One way we are currently re-writing assumptions of nature centers is through school partnerships. Formal partnerships between local nature centers and school districts are an opportunity to deepen learning and life skill outcomes.  Partnerships that expand beyond field trips allow for deeper relationships between a local nature and their communities.  Riveredge Nature Center (RNC) and the Cedarburg School District (CSD) have completed two years of such a partnership.  We are sharing the information about our partnership as a way to spread the word and help other nature centers and environmental organizations consider perusing deeper relationships with their school districts which may positively affect not only the students, but the entire community.  If you’d like to learn more please consider the following items.  Thank you to the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board for funding our evaluation project of this partnership through a 2013-14 grant.

Our partnership with Cedarburg School District has led us to think even BIGGER at Riveredge.  How could we reduce barriers to outdoor and environmental learning within our formal education systems?Jewel & Megan

In five years’ time, we see the students of your school district healthier, happier, more creative, and inspired by the world around them. We envision a school system where the outdoors is interconnected to the foundation of every day just as technology is interwoven through all subject areas.  We witness schools that do not have to make the choice between less recess time and more reading time because teachers have learned ways of transforming their local outdoor spaces into classrooms. We see the evolution of the next generation of scientists.

The vision of this cutting-edge project is to work in a true partnership with local school districts to transform the culture of our formal education system through the integration of outdoor learning experiences, environmental science learning, and the implementation of sustainability projects and initiatives.

In its most basic description, the “Riveredge School Naturalist Program” will place a fully funded environmental educator into local schools or school districts four days per week for five years, to meet the needs defined by the school district in order to achieve this vision.

Interested in learning more?  Contact Jessica Jens, Executive Director (jjens@riveredge.us or 262-416-1068)


End of Year Letter from Jessica

I once read a book titled, “How to Poop in the Woods.”  I was on the eve of embarking on my very first backpacking trip – up to the Porcupine Mountains in the U.P. – with a group of three co-workers.  I was 22 years old and had absolutely no idea what the heck I was doing.   Yet, I was going to help co-lead this trip in a couple of weeks.  We all thought I should have some idea of how to, err, poop in the woods.  That trip, full of traverses of flooded rivers, good company around the campfire, and acres and acres of forests, brought me to my real home—the natural world.SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

This past summer, 15 years after that homecoming, my eight-year-old daughter, Aspen, and I waded in the Milwaukee River to catch crayfish. Her friends were there too as part of a week at Riveredge’s Trailblazers camp.  Throughout the summer she flipped upside down on ropes from the tree tops, swung—splashing and giggling—into  the river, and slid down the mud covered otter slide – all on this 379 acres of land so many Riveredge Kids call home.

The impact of Riveredge can be measured in so many ways, from the research made possible by our protected habitat to the number of schools and students who visit every year. But, it is the stories of Riveredge Kids that illustrate the transformational impact of our work.

Caroline Mosley is one of those kids. Five year-old Caroline, always the last to pull her strainer out of the pond, spent her summers in Riveredge camps.  She interned with Riveredge educators while completing her undergraduate degrees in Environmental Science and German at Creighton University, and last year, as a graduate student at UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, she presented on Phosphorus Recycling by Quagga Mussels at Riveredge’s 1st Annual Research Symposium.  Caroline’s next adventure will be in Washington, D.C. She is one of students awarded the prestigious University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships. Come February, she’ll spend 12 months working at NOAA and learning how policy becomes science.

Her story, and that of today’s Riveredge Kids like my daughter, was made possible by the vision and dedication of the handful of people who founded Riveredge in the face of encroaching development. We are privileged to be stewards of their legacy. It was their leadership that made Riveredge a pioneer in environmental education and a destination for best practices in environmental restoration. Of course, the human impact of their work can be seen in the 250,000 ‘Riveredge Kids’ who, since 1970, have discovered the natural world by wading in the Milwaukee river, sweeping the prairie, and  tapping the sugar maples.

Their vision and your support is the foundation for the future of Riveredge.  Join us in building on the Riveredge legacy. Make a year-end gift to the annual fund which pays for the yellow buses to bring kids to Riveredge, the purchase of pond strainers, the salaries of our educators, and the expanded adventure programming to engage a new generation of Riveredge Kids.

Make a difference today by supporting Riveredge. Together, we’ll help more kids find their home in the natural world.


Keep Smiling & Get Outside!

Jessica Jens, Riveredge Nature Center Executive Director

Riveredge Gifts for the Holidays

Give the Gift of Pure Maple Syrup this Holiday Season! Grab a gift bag filled with Riveredge’s pure maple syrup and our very own pancake mix. Call Riveredge for information about shipping maple syrup gift boxes to family and friends through Dec. 18th. Download the order form here. 

We also have bunches of red osier dogwood for decorating as well as nature books, field guides, children’s books and many other nature related gifts.

All proceeds support Riveredge programs which foster a deeper understanding of the world for life-long learners of all ages.

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Join the Clothing Swap @ Riveredge

What is a Clothing Swap?

A clothing swap is a way people can trade their unwanted clothes for “new-to-you” items. Everyone brings a few bags of items to the swap. Then we layout our items on tables according to clothing size and gender (e.i. an area for girls, boys, women’s, men’s, etc). Once everything is displayed, the swapping begins and people can gather items that they would like to have.  People are able to try on clothes or take the chance. If something doesn’t fit, you can always bring it back to the next clothing swap. And in the end, everyone leaves with something to take home.

 Why we LOVE the idea @ Riveredge

I like clothing swaps the most because it allows me to find items for my children in the next largest size. A swap also allows me to give my unwanted clothes to someone who might need infant clothes for the new addition to their family. The last clothing swap I attended, I brought women’s clothes and went home with baby boy clothes. While another lady gathered my unwanted women’s clothes and she left behind girl clothes which someone else took home. A clothing swap is a win-win for everyone, while also helping with the family budget and keeping items out of the landfill.

Join me during the Riveredge Clothing Swap on November 16th, 1:00-3:00. Follow our Facebook event page for the swap and find out what others are bringing. Then register online through our website. Registration is required for this event as space is limited.

Facebook event page

Registration page


Clothing Swap Set-up and Times: Sunday, November 16

1:00-1:30    Participants set up their own clothing on tables labeled with clothing sizes/categories. Participants cannot begin swapping until everyone has displayed his/her items on the tables.

1:30-2:30    Participants can begin browsing and gathering items

2:30-3:00    Participants collect any leftover items that he/she brought from home. Any items not taken will be donated.

Why Scarecrows?

Why scarecrows?

Because they are just plain fun! Once built to scare birds away from our crops, they a great addition to any garden and have come to represent the fall harvest and our creative imagination. I have created many scare crows over the years with summer campers for the Riveredge garden. There are so many possibilities, and the kids love the creative process. They put a little bit of themselves and some creative touches into every scare crow, giving each one its own personality. We have created conventional scarecrows out of straw, and have also used different materials to craft unique creations. Each one gets a name, like Mrs Potts with her head of lettuce.

The possibilities are endless. The creative process can start with any idea, like using a natural animal as a model, and then going wild!

You can also create a scarecrow from your favorite TV and movie characters.


They Or they could be scary…….

Can be cute…..

They could have a theme

Or they could come solely from your imagination.

Come to the Fall Festival & Night Hike at Riveredge this Saturday, October 18th, to build your own family scarecrow!  Remember to pre-register so we can ensure enough scarecrow parts and pumpkins to go around!

At Riveredge, the goal is to work together with your family or friends, get creative and have fun building your scare crow creation. Bring your own materials and props, or use ours. The contest categories are: most creative, most colorful, best themed, most eco-friendly, and the best grab bag scare crow build from materials we provide.

The possibilities are endless, so go for it & have fun!