Susan Bence

Environmental Reporter

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.

Susan is now WUWM's Environmental Reporter, the station's first. Her work has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

Susan worked with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for 20 years, studied foreign languages at UWM, and loves to travel.

» Twitter: @WUWMenviron

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MeterHero rewards users for using less water and electricity. McGee Young came up with the idea with his students at Marquette University.

The story starts a few years ago, when McGee Young was teaching a course on innovation and sustainability. He and his students wanted to find a way to help people realize how much water they use.

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Friday marks day seven of the 15-day urban garden blitz in the Milwaukee area.

Several hundred volunteers are ferrying wooden planks and trucking mound upon mound of soil to build, and fill 4x8 raised garden beds. The effort is in its 7th season and is the brainchild of the Victory Garden Initiative, or VGI.

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The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation awarded $350,000 to M-WERC, the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium, to launch a 12-week, mentor-driven program.

WERCBench Labs is designed to support startups in the fields of energy, power and controls.

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For most of us, our knowledge of the philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau begins and ends with his meditation Walden. But that’s not true of local cardiologist Dr. James Mathew.

Growing up in India, Mathew remembers reading quotes in the local Sunday newspaper. “And I remember Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson being most often quoted American writers,” he says.

When Mathew moved to the United States, a friend lent him a copy of Walden. “I took advantage of that offer. That was 30 years ago, and I’m still reading Walden,” he says.

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With the motto “move grass – grow food,” the Blitz is a 15-day, volunteer-driven event.  Organizers expect to create more than 400 raised beds this month.

The Victory Garden Initiative, or VGI, created the program seven years ago, during which approximately 2,200 "above ground" gardens have been constructed across the Milwaukee area.

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A few years ago, The Park People spearheaded a “passport” to entice people to explore the Oak Leaf Trail. It covers more than 100 miles of diverse terrain. At first, the passport highlighted 14 park stops. This year, it includes 26 and a full-size map.

Cheri Briscoe is a hardcore volunteer. She’s advocated for the Oak Leaf Trail even before it acquired the name.

"I love biking and so I decided that’s what I want to focus on in my later life," she says.

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Most of the Kinnickinnic River looks like a giant drainage ditch. However, work is underway to restore the river to it's natural flow.

Back in the 1960s, the KK was channelized with concrete slopes. At the time, the technique was considered to be a state-of-the-art storm water management system. Instead, the channels led to devastating flooding.

By 2007, the river was named one of the 10 most endangered rivers in the United States.

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UPDATE:  Earlier this month, emergency responders told the the city's public works committee that if a rail crisis occurred in downtown Milwaukee up to a half mile area might be evacuated. That topic reverberated again at today's meeting.

It was attended by Canadian Pacific Railway representatives and Wisconsin Commissioner of Railroads Jeff Plale.

Science writer Michael Timm combined his passion for Great Lakes issues and storytelling to create an 8-minute film about quagga mussels. Then he not only convinced a local movie theater to show his film, Timm convinced three other filmmakers to contribute their work.

The result is the Our Water film event being held at the Avalon Theatre Saturday.

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Most of the world’s rice production occurs oceans away from the United States. In 2011, molecular biologist Michael Schläppi dove into rice research hoping to grow the grain in Wisconsin.

According Schläppi, 80 percent of the rice Americans consume is grown in a handful of states, especially Arkansas and California. “But I think it would be wise to think about, with climate change or the drought in California, maybe they won’t be able to grow rice anymore,” he says.

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