Riveredge Membership Tree Giveaway

Thank you Riveredge Members for being a part of the initial giveaway!

Free Tree Giveaway

We’d like to offer FREE TREES to our members AND any other tree loving people out there! Trees are now available for self-serve pick up at Riveredge Nature Center. 

The trees are located in the “East Parking Lot” just to the east of the main visitor center. There are three piles of mulch with signage indicating which row contains which tree species.

Please feel free to take as many as you can get planted this spring!

After you have made your selection and have taken the trees you want, please be sure to cover up the roots of any trees you disturbed with additional mulch.  Bare-root stock trees dry out quickly, and being covered in mulch is critical to keeping them hydrated.

Thanks for making the world a better place!  Happy Planting! 

-The Riveredge Nature Team

Back by popular demand, we’re pleased to once again announce that through a partnership with the Argosy Foundation and the Living Lands and Waters Million Trees Project, we’re able to give away free trees to Riveredge Members!

We have three oak species (Bur Oak, Red Oak, and Swamp White Oak) to choose from; please read below to see the details of what each of these trees requires in order to flourish. Each household can request up to 10 free trees.

These trees are native species to our region and will support an abundance of wildlife for potentially hundreds of years, but we want to also make sure to tell you that these trees will grow very large and will need a suitably large spaceHere is information from the Riveredge Director of Conservation explaining how to plant these trees

Tree pickup takes place Saturday, May 7 at the Riveredge Sugarbush House (4400 County Road Y Saukville, WI 53080) between 9am and 2pm. When picking up trees, please pay close attention to the entrance and exit signs as it is a one-way driveway. Once you submit your order, we’ll be in touch closer to the pickup date about specific details regarding your tree pickup and care.

Thank you for being a member of Riveredge, and for being the roots from which this organization grows!

Members only giveaway.

Members will need to sign into their account to claim this offer. If you haven’t created an account with our new system, be sure to create one using the email address associated with your membership.

If you need to check your membership status, or you aren’t sure what email address we have on file, please reach out to our Membership Manager, Renee Buchholz at rbuchholz@riveredge.us.

The Trees

Note: Log in required.

Farewell, Friends

Thank you Riveredge Members for being a part of the initial giveaway!

Free Tree Giveaway

We’d like to offer FREE TREES to our members AND any other tree loving people out there! Trees are now available for self-serve pick up at Riveredge Nature Center. 

The trees are located in the “East Parking Lot” just to the east of the main visitor center. There are three piles of mulch with signage indicating which row contains which tree species.

Please feel free to take as many as you can get planted this spring!

After you have made your selection and have taken the trees you want, please be sure to cover up the roots of any trees you disturbed with additional mulch.  Bare-root stock trees dry out quickly, and being covered in mulch is critical to keeping them hydrated.

Thanks for making the world a better place!  Happy Planting! 

-The Riveredge Nature Team

Dear Riveredge Family,

Today is my last day as the Riveredge Executive Director. As I move on to my next professional chapter, I am overcome with nine years of memories I would have never expected. Please grant me a moment to say goodbye, in the casual, personal way we have come to know each other.

Not surprisingly, over the last nine years, my family has grown up and I’ve grown older. Just 2 ½ and 7 years old when we arrived in 2013, our children are now in the midst of middle school and high school. Their childhoods solidly revolved around Riveredge. They learned how to catch frogs in a way that doesn’t harm, the best rocks to look under for crayfish, the way the tops of trees sway in even the smallest wind while they ascend climbing ropes to dance among the branches, the leathery feel of young sturgeon as they are released into Lake Michigan, the quiet stillness of a winter night snowshoe, and the hard work it takes to make fundraising events fun. Our kids are Riveredge Kids, and those experiences will positively influence them for the remainder of their lives.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a team of staff members who represent most chapters of Riveredge. Staff members with over 20 years of experience and have adapted to the ups and downs of the nonprofit world with ease; they continue to form the bedrock of this remarkable organization. Staff members who joined as we launched an audacious goal, contributed new ideas, energy, and creativity, and drove growth that doubled participation and membership levels. Some are still contributing to Riveredge while others have moved on to help other nonprofits grow and thrive. Since the beginning, Riveredge has served as the pebble which starts a ripple, and Riveredge staff and volunteers have contributed to the success of environmental nonprofits throughout the region for decades. This continues today. And I am thankful for those newest staff members who have recently joined or will join soon. It is easy to be over-the-moon excited for the future of Riveredge when you see, feel, and hear the passion in their voices, the energy in their conversations, and sparkle of all that is possible in their gaze. Yes, I am forever grateful for all the staff members who make up the quilt of my Riveredge years.

And the volunteers: those that are quiet, those that are loud. The volunteers that run circles around me on my most energetic days and the volunteers who have the ability to sit quietly for hours to calculate, contemplate, or count the wonders of the natural world. The volunteers who greet those who enter the Visitor Center with a kind smile and the volunteers who shepherd classes of students in and out of the river. The volunteers who will always lend a helping hand in the kitchen and those that come through and make sure every bulb is working in the staff offices. The volunteers who served as my many “bosses” on the Board of Directors and pushed me to be the best version of myself every day. Volunteers show up because they want to, and for no other reason than that. And for all those volunteers, I will always be thankful.

And the memories go on. The memories of swinging in the tree tops, watching the young sturgeon receive their PIT tags each year, welcoming the first classes of students to the River Outpost, eating the first pancakes at the Sugarbush House, building yurts without really knowing how to do so, laughing and smiling with the first students of The Riveredge School, signing the conservation easement to forever protect the Riveredge sanctuary, trekking through new Riveredge land, dreaming, visioning, and believing in the future. Saying yes. Yes, Riveredge can do that. Yes, a nature center is critical to its community. Yes, the natural world is important. Yes, we can make that happen.

Thank you for these years. They have been a gift. YOU have been a gift.

With the greatest of gratitude,
Jessica Jens
Riveredge Kid Since 2013

Sandhill Lake Wildlife Sanctuary joins Riveredge!

Conservation Announcement:

Sandhill Lake Wildlife Sanctuary joins Riveredge!

Riveredge Nature Center is elated to announce the gift of a nearby 40-acre parcel of land entrusted to us to conserve and restore. Sandhill Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is near the main Riveredge property, though not connected, and has been donated by the Hepburn family of Cedarburg, longtime friends and supporters of Riveredge.

This property already holds a conservation easement and the location offers exciting opportunities to both conserve and improve habitat. The parcel boasts various habitats, including marshland, forest, riparian stream, agricultural land in production, post-agricultural prairie, and access to Sandhill Lake. In the upcoming years, it will be used as another education outpost for a variety of programs.

Riveredge conservation staff will conduct a thorough survey  of the property to develop a conservation restoration and management plan. Initial inspections have revealed badger dens, more than 50 species of birds, and excellent turtle breeding habitat.

From a programmatic use standpoint, we envision this location for various potential educational opportunities, including: summer camps, homeschool programs, field trips, academic partner research endeavors, and scout group outings.

When we think of real estate in the context of conservation, the funny thing about ownership titles, real estate deeds, shoreline easements is that Rusty-patched Bumble Bees, Pileated Woodpeckers, and Rainbow Trout all have no regard for such human declarations. This is why Riveredge’s conservation philosophy is to work alongside neighbors, farmers, land owners, and future environmentalists to expand how properties can become a both more beautiful and resplendent beacon for wildlife. We look forward to cultivating goodwill with our new neighbors at Sandhill Lake.

We look forward to conserving this robust habitat with efforts that will increase the native and migratory species seen on Sandhill Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, and will in turn have a positive ripple effect on the neighboring properties. With gratitude and purpose, we thank the Hepburn family for their longtime friendship and support, and for entrusting Riveredge with the earnest duty of caring for Sandhill Lake Wildlife Sanctuary.

Thankful Thursday: Exciting Endangered Bee Species Discovery at Riveredge

Happy Thankful Thursday!

This Thankful Thursday, we’re connecting the dots between donors who fund conservation research and a Federally Endangered species…discovered onsite at Riveredge!

In recent years, the William R. and Charlotte S. Johnson Fund has supported research and conservation interns at Riveredge. Char, as we knew her, was one of the founders of Riveredge Nature Center and their donations have afforded us the capacity to provide college students and recent graduates with work experience in the field.

One of our interns this year is Caleb, a student at Concordia University Wisconsin, and his focus has been on researching insects in the prairie. In the past couple of weeks, with dogged focus, documentation, and follow-up research, Caleb confirmed with this photograph the existence of the elusive Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) at Riveredge.

For years, we’ve fostered habitat for this Federally Endangered species, hoping that we would one day be able to confirm its presence here. Thanks to the support of the William R. and Charlotte S. Johnson Fund, and the determination of the interns they’ve empowered us to employ, we’re pleased to announce that Riveredge is indeed a home for the Federally Endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee!

Char’s legacy lives on through the wonderful creatures, abundant and uncommon alike, that know these acres along the Milwaukee River as their sanctuary. Thank you!

Three Festivals Unite to Celebrate Milwaukee’s Rivers: 2021 Sturgeon Fest News

It’s time to celebrate the return of Milwaukee’s rivers with three organizations committed to their restoration! On Sunday, September 19 2021, Harbor District’s annual street festival Harbor Fest will expand, combining the celebration of Milwaukee’s harbor with the Milwaukee Riverkeeper Boat Parade and Sturgeon Fest by Riveredge Nature Center.

Harbor Fest celebrates all things fish, water, and boats. Attendees can expect food and drink, live music by Caché, art, a fish petting zoo, activities for families like learning how to clean a fish, shopping from local makers, and information and goodies from our business tent featuring Milwaukee’s Harbor District businesses.

In the spirit of collaboration that guides environmental groups in Southeast Wisconsin, we are delighted to partner up with Riveredge and Milwaukee Riverkeeper – two groups that really know how to celebrate water and will make Harbor Fest better than ever,” said Lilith Fowler, Executive Director of Harbor District, Inc. “And, we can’t wait to bring people back to the waterfront and share new plans and progress from the past year.” This will be the Harbor District’s fifth annual Harbor Fest. In 2019, over 3,200 people came to Milwaukee’s Harbor to celebrate the rich history and culture of this special area of Milwaukee.

Picture of 2019 Harbor Fest from the School of Freshwater Sciences. Photo Courtesy Harbor District.

Sunday, September 19 Schedule of Events

Harbor Fest starts at 11:00am and also encompasses Sturgeon Fest and Milwaukee Riverkeeper Boat Parade 

11:00am Harbor Fest Begins

12:00pm Sturgeon Blessing and fish release begins at Harbor View Plaza

12:30pm Milwaukee Riverkeeper Boat Parade begins at Harbor View Plaza

4:00pm Harbor Fest completes

A boat in the 2019 Milwaukee Riverkeeper Boat Parade. Photo courtesy Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

The Milwaukee Boat Parade is a twist on the traditional holiday parade featuring floats – that actually float! Local artists, groups and performers are commissioned to create installations celebrating the return of Milwaukee’s rivers. Watch it LIVE from Harborfest, or find a spot anywhere along the riverwalk to take in this unique sight.

This year, Harbor Fest attendees will have the opportunity to release a Lake Sturgeon as a part of the 15th year of the Return the Sturgeon Program. Event attendees can pre-register to hand-release Lake Sturgeon into the water, or donate the opportunity for others to have the experience on the Sturgeon Fest website.  Sturgeon Fest has previously taken place at Lakeshore State Park and for 2021 Riveredge is trying out a new location with Harbor Fest.

“For 15 years Riveredge has partnered with the Wisconsin DNR to raise Lake Sturgeon and welcome the community to hand release this species back into the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan during Sturgeon Fest,” said Jessica Jens, Riveredge Executive Director. “I greatly appreciate our downstream partnerships with Harbor District and Milwaukee Riverkeeper in welcoming us to be a part of Harbor Fest this year.”

The Return the Sturgeon program is a collaboration between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Riveredge Nature Center. Since the mid-1800’s, Lake Sturgeon populations throughout the Great Lakes have been decimated between overfishing, collection of their eggs as caviar, and dams blocking their ability to return to spawning habitat (Lake Sturgeon will only spawn in the river in which they were born). The Return the Sturgeon restoration effort imprints a new population of Lake Sturgeon on Milwaukee River water. This effort reclaims the habitat range of this prehistoric fish species and returns a spawning sturgeon population to the Milwaukee River for the first time in more than 100 years.

As Milwaukee Riverkeeper heralds the resurgent return of Milwaukee’s rivers, Milwaukee also welcomes the return of Lake Sturgeon to our rivers.

“So much work has gone into restoring Milwaukee’s rivers. We are seeing a renaissance happening, people are returning to the water to find community and share joy after a long time apart. The Milwaukee Riverkeeper Boat Parade is a celebration of our collective connections to water. We see this as another opportunity to bring people together and down to our rivers,” said Jennifer Bolger Breceda, Executive Director of Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

Harbor Fest takes place outside of the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences at 600 E. Greenfield Ave. Greenfield Avenue will be closed at Barclay Street to make way for the festival and pedestrian traffic. Attendees are encouraged to ride bikes to the event. An event schedule and map, including the location of free event parking hosted by Rockwell Automation, will be available leading up to the festival at Harbor Fest – Milwaukee.

Cabela’s #OutdoorFund Supports Riveredge Nature Center with $2,500 Award

Having partners supporting Riveredge Nature Center is what really makes Riveredge able to flourish and host so many successful programs throughout our various communities. We’re pleased to announce that Cabela’s #OutdoorFund has granted Riveredge Nature Center with $2,500 of equipment to support our youth and family programming!

At Riveredge, we believe that to inspire a love of nature and a passion for protecting it, we must first welcome people to enjoy and become curious about the prairies and forests and inhabitants of the Milwaukee River. In order to make that happen, we host innumerable summer camps, outreach programs, onsite programs, and gatherings for the Community Rivers Program. The following gifts from Cabela’s will help support our youth and family programming to inspire the next generations of exploring conservationists.

Fishing poles sized for very young anglers. We use poles mostly from April to October in family fishing programs, community rivers program outreach fishing days in Grafton, Saukville, Newburg, Fredonia & Kewaskum, and during our summer camps onsite.

Tents that fit 3-5 people are an asset to our Summer Camp program. We utilize them onsite for younger campers when they stay overnight as well as off site on trips to Devil’s Lake, The Boundary Waters, and Pictured rocks for our Teen Campers.

Students of The Riveredge School fishing on the last day of classes in 2021.

Pop-up changing shelters Heron Pond for campers to change in and out of suits before hiking 1-1.5 miles back to the camp classrooms/spaces. We also utilize these in the winter indoors- in our classrooms for students who need to change clothes after an especially wet day of playing/learning near the pond or in the snow!

Trail Cameras for wildlife monitoring of specific species/particular habitats that have sensitive plant ecosystems we closely study for phenology and habits. These are used most often with the research/conservation dept, but we do utilize them from time to time for summer camp and homeschool programming.

Thank you to #Cabela’s Outdoor Fund for supporting Riveredge and youth and family outdoor education throughout our community!

Welcome Katie Burton, Riveredge Director of Development

Katie Burton, the new Riveredge Director of Development, comes to Riveredge with more than 10 years experience working in the field. Katie began her nonprofit career with Sojourner Family Peace Center. From there, she went to work at Marquette University High School where she spent nearly eight years, completing her time there as the Director of Development Services. A Grafton resident with an expanding family, she then moved to work closer to home at Concordia University, where she oversaw the Annual Fund program for both Wisconsin and Ann Arbor campuses.

Katie is born and raised in Grafton and it’s where her family has set their roots. Her husband, Ricky, runs his own business – Burton Landscaping, LLC. They are both very active in the community, on the Board of a local charity, volunteer and participate wherever they can. They have two children, Wesley (12) and Allie (2) and a puppy, Remi. Family is life, so much of their time is spent at sporting events, school activities, and play dates, but when time allows, Katie enjoys anything outdoors – gardening, long walks with a book on tape, swimming, working in the yard, and rummaging (love a good deal!). She also enjoys cooking with a good glass of wine. Her favorite pastime though, spending time with family and friends…and talking – haha!

Katie started at Riveredge in the end of March and she will focus on annual fund development, membership, and sponsorship. Katie, Courtney Rogaczewski, and Renee Buchholz will work collaboratively on a variety of projects, as well as working in concert with Ed Makowski in marketing to ensure that a cohesive Riveredge message is being put forth about all of our efforts.

Welcome to Riveredge Katie! Katie can be reached at kburton@riveredge.us.

Riveredge Volunteer Feature: Mark Vollmers

You may recognize Mark Vollmers for any number of reasons. Perhaps you’ve seen him acting in a movie or a commercial…otherwise you might have heard him singing with Vocal Tapestry, a group that sings folk songs from around the world. At Riveredge, you’ll most likely recognize Mark as the man behind the pancake griddle during Maple Sugarin’ Season.

Around the turn of the millennium, Mark’s wife Estelle invited him to make pancakes during maple sugarin’ field trips at Riveredge. Estelle was an environmental educator who became a volunteer Teacher Naturalist at Riveredge when she retired. After Mark retired in 2003 he began flipping even more flapjacks.

Following Estelle’s passing in 2009, Don Gilmore invited Mark to help with maintenance on Tuesdays at Riveredge, and Mark continued to pitch in more as his schedule permitted. At 20 years of volunteering, we gladly consider Mark a lifer at this point.

Thank you for choosing to spend your time with all of us at Riveredge, Mark – here’s a sap toast to another 20 years of pancake Maple Magic!

Help Tap the Sap at Riveredge!

February is giving way to March and pretty soon the sap will be flowing overnight in the 400-tree Riveredge Nature Center Sugarbush! Riveredge has a wonderful cast of volunteers who help haul buckets and bags of sap throughout maple sugarin’ season. All of it has to make its way to the Sugarbush House, where those grand clouds of steam are cooked into syrup. If you’re active and looking for an opportunity to fill your lungs with fresh forest air – join us to help collect sap!

This is an especially wonderful activity for folks who are retired or have time during the day. The schedule can depend upon nighttime and daytime temperatures – in this endeavor we’re at the whim of the weather so we’re often calling people to run in when the sap is running. A combination of temperatures below freezing at night and above freezing during the day are what makes the sap (and then us!) run. During this spring, masks will be required to be worn by volunteers.

To learn more about joining us in this wonderful outdoor exercise that turns sap into pure maple syrup, please contact Keith Hiestand at khiestand@riveredge.us or by calling (262)375-2715 x128.

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