Nearby Nature Staff


Martina Patterson

Chief Land Steward

Martina Patterson is a trained and accomplished fabric artist and worked in youth arts education for years with Express Yourself MKE.  Since joining Nearby Nature she has interned with the Urban Ecology Center as a land steward and worked side by side with their youth educators.  In 2021 she became certified as a Master Naturalist, deepening her interest in ethnobotany and the healing powers of nature.  She is also the Milwaukee coordinator for Rural/Urban Flow, an agri-culture program based in Reedsburg, Wis.  Her Nearby Nature portfolio includes community art development, land restoration and stewardship, as well as youth education.

Photo of Martina Patterson

Makayla Cooper Photo

Makayla Cooper

Youth Educator / Researcher

Makayla is a 2023 Graduate of the UW Milwaukee Ecology and Conservation program.  Her awards and professional association credits are numerous.  She has worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as an analyst intern and as a community volunteer in environmental cleanups and invasive plant control.  In our Youth Education program, she is a rock star to the students.  She is leading kids in 4th through 8th grades in watershed data collection and analysis in locations along Lincoln Creek.

Detaya Johnson

Program Director

With a masters degree in geology and hydrology, plus many years of business experience Detaya brings a scientific and business perspective to her work.  Detaya is the founder of Karma Community Garden and takes a serious interest in her community and its culture. She is great at connecting with people and building partnerships. She was a 2022 recipient of a “Rising Star” award in the third annual African American Environmental Pioneer Awards.  While a research assistant at UW-Milwaukee and with the Racine Health Department, Detaya conducted extensive studies in water quality.  She loves to mentor others as she works for equity and inclusion in environmental sciences.

Detaya Johnson