Group gathered outside
December 11, 2019

2019 Friends Group Workshops – In Review

Looking back at the friends group regional workshops

In 2019, four regional workshops brought together friends group leaders from across Minnesota to network and discuss topics relevant to friends groups. Let’s look back at those workshops to see what we’ve learned!



group picture outside with all workshop attendees


Friends Groups Represented

friends group frames set up on a long table


Each workshop had sessions with guided discussions around specific topics. Because different friends groups attended each workshop, the specific ideas and discussion points varied, according to groups’ challenges and strengths. Check out the recap below for each session, and click through to find resources under each topic.


The membership session focused on how to define, track, and build membership. We learned that finding new members is a huge challenge.


The outreach session discussed the who, why, and how of communication. It focused discussion on newsletters and Facebook strategies.

Project Planning

The DNR shared details about their work with friends groups and discussed strategies to collaborate with the agency and plan for future projects.

Resources Planning

P&TC discussed the resources available to friends groups to get feedback and ideas for how to continue supporting friends groups in the future.


While a wealth of feedback and ideas was collected at these workshops, here are a few key takeaways.

  • Participants were thrilled to get together, network, and discuss shared goals.
  • Friends groups each have varied strengths and challenges, which demonstrates there is great opportunity for cross-group learning.
  • Engaging new members or volunteers, especially younger folks, is a huge challenge.
  • Groups are interested in a few particular resources:
    • Membership tracking support
    • Template/instructions for a newsletter
    • Facebook group forum for friends leaders

Also, special thanks to the friends groups that supported the workshops with their time, energy, and park expertise! These events could not have happened without your generous support.

  • Friends of Itasca State Park
  • Gitchi-Gami Trail Association & Friends of Tettegouche State Park
  • Friends of Lake Shetek State Park
  • Friends of Whitewater State Park

DNR Message

A note from Arielle Courtney, Partnership Development Consultant, DNR

DNR staff leads a presentationThanks so much to everyone who participated, volunteered, or helped out with the 2019 Regional Friends Group Workshops. What a long-overdue opportunity to get together and share learnings and successes! As you can see from the follow-up information and survey, we are hoping to learn and grow from these workshops in order to provide you with better resources and information in the future. On behalf of the DNR, we appreciate your patience with us as we work to simplify and organize our processes and paperwork to make it easier to work with us long-term. I’m hoping that some of this streamlined communication will be available as you start to work with your park or trail staff on goal and project planning for 2020. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns. I’m available at 651-259-5609 or And finally, my sincere thanks to Parks & Trails Council for putting on these workshops and bringing everyone together!

Looking Ahead

With the enthusiasm and success experienced from the 2019 friends group workshops, we are excited to work with the DNR to bring you the next iteration of a friends group workshop in 2020!

While we are amidst the planning stages, we’d like your input. Please share your thoughts by filling out the survey. Thank you!

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About Ashley Pethan