Once a farm for the Schlitz Brewery draft horses, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is Milwaukee’s comprehensive nature center. Three alumni work at the Schlitz Audubon Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We caught up with them to find out more.
Jessica (Biswell) Knox ’98 School Programs Manager
One of your favorite things? Great Lake Michigan! It’s only a ten minute walk down to the shore from our parking lot. I recently developed a Beach Treasures program for K-2nd graders, where we go beachcombing to find treasures to make an artistic mosaic.
How did you get started? I began in 1999 as a fall intern. I started by shadowing the other naturalists and getting familiar with the school programs. I was teaching on the team shortly after. I’ve been here ever since.
Tips for future students? Be willing to be an intern or volunteer. They are a way to get your foot in the door. I recently hired our spring intern as a naturalist. She blew us away and we found a way to keep her on the team.
Spring Holz Houston ’15, Development Coordinator
Best kept secret? My favorite trail is the West Meadow Trail. It really makes you feel like you are in the middle of the north woods, not right outside the city of Milwaukee.
How did you get your job? I was an AmeriCorps member with College Possible for two years, first as a coach, then as a community partners team member. They saw that I had potential in development and were trying to steer me down that path. When I saw the position for development coordinator open up and looked at the job description, I realized that development is the right path for me. I’d be doing all the things that I get nerdy about anyway, so why not get paid for it?
What experiences at Northland helped lead you on this career path? Northland really helped me find a passion for nature that I hadn’t gotten elsewhere. Since growing up poor, my family didn’t have many opportunities to really help me dive into different career paths and we would never have had a membership to a nature center. I was the first in my family to not only get a high school diploma but a bachelor’s degree. Having my degree has opened so many doors for me that my family never got to experience, so I thank Northland every day for helping me stay there and finish my degree because I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without my education.
Nick Holz Houston ’15, Facilities Assistant
What’s an average day look like for you? I may be leading a small group of volunteers in a project such as pruning and clearing a play space, maybe disassembling a boardwalk. Last fall, my supervisor and I built a large boardwalk through an area of wetland in our prairies.
What do you love best about the center? The center is a fifteen-to-twenty-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee, but when I’m standing in the middle of our Northern Prairie, or in Solitude Marsh, I feel like I’m five-to-six hours from Milwaukee.
How did you get here from Northland? It was on the trip back from a week in Kentucky volunteering with Hardin County’s Habitat that I started looking for opportunities to get involved with Milwaukee’s affiliate. This was the first and only time that I’d participated in this annual trip through Northland, but it was such a great experience that I wanted it to continue. I applied and got a job through AmeriCorps with Milwaukee Habitat within a few weeks. When my time with Habitat was coming to a close, I knew I wanted a physical job where the fruits of my labor were immediate. I happened to find the perfect position here.