orange and black butterfly
May 28, 2021

Amidst COVID, friends group launches new grant program and recruits board members

Grants for Interpretive Activities

Schools, youth groups, and individuals can now apply for funds to carry out interpretive activities at Wild River State Park. The grants would cover a wide variety of activities—they just need to focus on learning and take place in the park. For example, a local artist might apply for supplies (paper, pencils, paints, etc.), so they can lead an art program for kids focused on drawing animals or flowers found in the park.

kids and naturalist walk along a gravel path

2019 field trip

This new grant program was made possible by a generous $25,000 donation from Stan Nelson after he passed away last year. Stan was involved in the early day of Friends of Wild River and was a strong advocate and supporter of interpretive programming at the park. The friends embarked on a careful planning process to make sure these funds support interpretive activities for years to come.

In addition to the grant program, these funds will also support scholarships to Master Naturalists to complete a training course. As a part of the scholarship, that Master Naturalist would agree to complete their capstone project and volunteer hours at the park. The goal is to build a cadre of experienced and engaged naturalist volunteers that can plan and support a wide breadth of activities.

Supporting innovative naturalist programs is not new to Friends of Wild River. They also sponsor a transportation grant program to pay for busses in an effort to get more students and youth groups into the park for a first-hand, nature experience. The friends group has also sponsored naturalist interns and staff throughout the years.

Board Recruitment

Group serving pancakes in the park visitor center

Friends of Wild River organize a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the park

While cancelling events and projects at the park for more than a year has been challenging, the pause on in-person activities gave space to the friends group to engage in more thoughtful planning. They also used the time to recruit three new board members.

How they did it:

  1. Created basic “job descriptions”
  2. Crafted a catchy social media message
  3. Put the word out through the “North Branch News” Facebook group
  4. Asked interested people to submit an application
  5. President called each applicant
  6. Other board members called each person that connected with President
  7. Board chose three people from that cohort
  8. Three new board members were welcomed at the annual meeting

With three new board members, this group is ready to ramp up activities as COVID limitations loosen.

Content contributed by: Becky Leuer, Friends of Wild River

Feature photo: Theo Carlson/P&TC Photo Contest

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