Red Ralph rearing sturgeon

Sturgeon Rearing at Riveredge Nature Center


This is an exciting opportunity to help bring back lake sturgeon to the Milwaukee River.

History of the Project

Lake sturgeon were once abundant in Lake Michigan, with spawning populations in many of its tributaries. They disappeared from the Milwaukee River over 100 years ago due to habitat loss, over fishing, pollution, and the installation of dams. They are the oldest and largest native fish to the lakes and are important to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Goal of the Project

Over the next 25 years, Riveredge volunteers will help to raise approximately 1,000 lake sturgeon per year, totaling roughly 25,000 fish by 2031.

The sturgeon are raised in a streamside rearing facility where water from the Milwaukee River is circulated through rearing tanks. This allows the fish to imprint on the water as they grow. Once the sturgeon are released, they have a better chance of returning to the river to spawn when they are mature.


Volunteers are needed to make this program a success. A variety of daily tasks need to be performed to maximize the sturgeon’s chances of survival. Volunteers track the number of sturgeon, provide feedings, perform water quality tests and monitor the daily operations of the streamside rearing facility.

Volunteers are asked to make a two to three hour, one-day a week commitment. Training sessions are scheduled once per month from April through July but can be arranged on a one-on-one basis if needed.

Life offers few opportunities to change history, and rectify mistakes of the past.  Volunteer for the Lake Sturgeon Restoration project and do just that.  Join a group of dedicated volunteers feeding the fish, maintaining the tanks, monitoring systems and verifying water quality. Volunteers commit to one day a week after being trained and become part of one of the inspiring projects at Riveredge.

Qualifications of Volunteer:   Able to work independently; very dependable and trustworthy.

Minimum Age:  18

Volunteer position is for:  Ongoing through the months of May – October

* Training is required.

Contact Mary Holleback if interested at 262-375-2715

The MEC supports the people and work of Greater Milwaukee’s environmental community. We foster collaboration through shared space and resources, incubate new initiatives, and activate diverse champions for a clean and healthy environment.