Nearby Nature Staff


Martina Patterson

Arts & Youth Educator, 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.

Photo of Staff Member Leena Le

Leena Le

Water Justice Ally (2021-2022)

[Note: Leena graduated from the Public Ally Program in summer of 2022 and has gone on to advance her career in the field of public helath.  We are grateful for the work she did for us, particularly supporting our youth ork and organizing the spring 2022 Lincoln Creek Greenway Summit]
Leena Le is a proud second-generation Vietnamese American.  This shapes her worldview.  Her understanding of oppression and colonialism fires her passion to serve others and create a just world so all may thrive with dignity.  This brought her to serve as a Public Allies Americorps apprentice placed with Nearby Nature and Community Water Services.  She has served as a youth crisis stabilizer, helping youth experiencing trauma connect to services, achieve their goals, and grow in self-discovery.  Leena has been a frequent food pantry volunteer, and in 2020 she helped organize a march from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., for the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech.  She hopes to find a career in community service, helping others find promise and overcome injustice.