Making Milwaukee Beautiful: MATC Students, Faculty and Staff Pitch In on Earth Day

Mayor Cavalier Johnson, city officials and college administrators laud work of volunteers

Mark Feldmann,

April 23, 2024

Earth Day 2024
Earth Day 2024
Earth Day 2024
Earth Day 2024
Earth Day 2024
Earth Day 2024
Earth Day 2024

The work you’re doing is critically important. When your city is clean, it invigorates you. It becomes a place you value. My goal is to make this city a cleaner, safer, healthier environment for everyone.

Cavalier Johnson City of Milwaukee Mayor, Earth Day 2024

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson believes a clean city is a healthy city, a safe city and a proud city.

“If you have trash in your house, you don’t throw it anywhere. You put it in the trash,” said Johnson, who earlier in April won a full, four-year term as mayor. “That’s what we all need to do in our collective home called Milwaukee.”

On Monday, April 22 — the 54th annual Earth Day — hundreds of Milwaukee Area Technical College students, staff and faculty did their part to keep Milwaukee beautiful.

Volunteers at all four MATC campuses and the MATC Education Center at Walker’s Square collected trash, removed debris, cleaned sidewalks and planted flowers.

Johnson was one of several city officials who appeared at Walker’s Square, which is located at 816 West National Avenue in Milwaukee, to celebrate the annual environmental event and to praise the participants.

“The work you’re doing is critically important,” Johnson said. “When your city is clean, it invigorates you. It becomes a place you value. My goal is to make this city a cleaner, safer, healthier environment for everyone.”

“This is an amazing turnout,” said Nicole Tanner, who is MATC’s director of admissions and assessment and currently serves as director of Walker's Square and community education support. “It’s wonderful to see so many people contributing to the beautification of this area.”

Earth Day, which was first held on April 22, 1970, included a wide range of events coordinated globally by Earth Day and celebrated by a billion people in more than 193 countries. 

MATC President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D., told the crowd she participated in Earth Day when she was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the event was a way to teach students about caring for the environment. 

“That was 54 years ago and we’re still working to preserve this environment,” Dr. Martin said. 

David Sherrill, MATC’s director of facilities and operations, announced the college had planted a tree outside Walker’s Square to honor Dr. Martin, who is retiring at the end of June after 10 years as president and nearly 40 years at MATC.

Also in attendance at the Walker’s Square celebration was City of Milwaukee Ald. Jose G. Perez, who serves as Common Council president and represents the city’s 12th district, which includes the education center and the surrounding neighborhoods.

“I’m overjoyed you are committed to protecting our environment,” Perez said to the crowd. “We all have neighbors, children, grandchildren, family and friends. If we don’t do this to protect them, no one else will.”

“A cleaner community is a safer community,” said Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman. “We should be celebrating Earth Day every day by getting together and being better together.”

Meanwhile, students, faculty and staff at MATC’s Downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Mequon and West Allis campuses grabbed trash bags and trash pickers to clean up the campuses and neighborhoods. The Office of Student Life provided light snacks, refreshments and T-shirts for the volunteers at the four locations.

Earth Week at MATC will conclude Friday, April 26, with an event hosted by MATC’s Urban Agriculture and Green Industry Coalition, which comprises community organizations building connections to train, educate and market future green industry jobs and opportunities.

Panel discussions, table presentations, a tour of the green roof on the college’sT Building, and a locally sourced meal will run from 9 a.m. to noon in Room M605 at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus.

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 30,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 180 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.