Leaves scattered across ground

Project & Event Resources

Friends groups develop, host, and participate in a variety of activities that support their mission, involve the community, and make a positive impact for their park or trail.

Explore Examples

Friends Groups have been very active over the years. Have a look at some precedent for ideas on how to implement projects and events with your group.

Behind the Scenes: Insights on Event Planning

Planning a Yearlong Centennial Celebration

The Centennial of a park is a BIG deal! It is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So, the naturalists at Whitewater State Park put together a plan to host a special event each month of 2019 to celebrate the first 100 years of the park. Each event highlighted the history or a unique feature of the park.

The Friends of Whitewater State Park took on the challenge of raising the necessary funds for these events. Read about their approach, challenges, and tips!

Webinar: Collaborating with Master Naturalists

In July 2020, P&TC organized a webinar, inviting Amy Rager with UofM Extension and the Master Naturalist program to discuss how the program works and how friends groups can work with Master Naturalist volunteers. Jay McLaren with Friends of Whitewater State Park and Beth Hayden with Gateway Brown’s Creek Trail Association both joined to talk about how their groups are already working with Master Naturalist volunteers.

Project and Event Examples

Find examples for events and projects friends groups have been implementing.

See All Stories

Youth Engagement

Engaging kids and students in positive outdoor experiences at parks and trails is an important undertaking. Some friends groups have made this effort one of their priorities—building a stewardship ethic among the next and current generation of outdoor leaders.

There are a number of organizations that support youth engagement efforts in the outdoors. Look for more resources by visiting their websites.

Webinar: Friends Groups & Youth Field Trips

In September 2020, P&TC organized a webinar, inviting four different friends groups to share their experiences with coordinating field trips at their park or trail. Hear about the timelines, partnerships, activities, costs and funding, and more for each field trip.

Watch webinar

Project Get Outdoors

Project Get Outdoors (Project GO) strives to facilitate outdoor experiences that develop healthy kids and increase environmental stewardship behaviors.

Training teachers and leaders

  • Project GO facilitates trainings for formal and informal teachers who engage with kids in an outdoor setting.

Providing resources to families

Visit Website
Two girls fishing on a pier with their dad
Providing opportunities for youth to enjoy the outdoors is important at Sibley State Park

Children & Nature Network

Children & Nature Network (C&NN) believes in a world in which all children play, learn, and grow with nature in their everyday lives. C&NN is leading a global movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children—and natural places—can thrive.

Find tools and resources on their website about personal and community action, green school yards, family nature clubs, and more!

Visit Website
A boy plants a tree
Photo by Dave Sauer

Nature Play Areas

Friends Groups are well-positioned to support land management agencies in planning for, building, and maintaining nature play areas. Find resources here for embarking on a project like this.

Some children took advantage of the volunteers' lunch break to test out the new playground features.

Webinar: Friends Groups & Nature Play Areas

In August 2020, P&TC organized a webinar, inviting Stacy Smith with the DNR to share information about the DNR’s new Nature Play Area Guidance Document as well as two board members from Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park to discuss their group’s Nature Play Area journey.

Watch webinar

Friends Group Examples

Friends of Chester Woods

After watching P&TC’s webinar about nature play areas, Friends of Chester Woods was inspired to create a video about the nature play areas at Chester Woods Park.

Read more and watch drone video
nature play area feature
A young girl rakes the soil
Photo by Dave Sauer

Friends of Lake Bemidji State Park

Friends of Lake Bemidji State Park partnered with the park and the UofM Extension to install a play area.

Read more and find pictures

Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

From 2018-2019, the Friends partnered with the park, secured a grant, and helped to install a play area.

Read more and find pictures

Minnesota Children & Nature Connection

Minnesota Children & Nature Connection (MN-CNC) is an alliance of individuals, organizations, and communities engaged in a movement to connect children and families to nature. MN-CNC provides resources about the benefits of youth engaging in nature and has a great nature play areas inventory map of Minnesota.

Visit Website
kid riding bike through puddle
Enjoying the campgrounds at Maplewood by Claudia Mattingly

Partner with P&TC
on Projects & Events

There are some ways in which P&TC can support and work with Friends Groups on projects and events.

Obtain Liability Insurance

When hosting an event at a park or trail, sometimes the land management agency (i.e. DNR) may require that the friends group has liability insurance for the event. Parks & Trails Council offers the possibility to co-sponsor an event that meets certain criteria, therefore extending its liability insurance for the event. Fill out the application form to see if your event qualifies.

Liability Insurance Application

Utilize a Waiver

When a Friends Group organizes an event where participation may involve risk, it is important to collect a waiver from the participants. A waiver is usually required if P&TC is extending its liability insurance coverage for the event. This waiver template can be used to draft a specific waiver for the event, or P&TC can approve a waiver that your group may already have.

Waiver Template
Four men biking on Willard Munger State Trail

Acquire Land with P&TC

Sometimes Friends Groups support a park or trail with land acquisition. The land often may be a missing piece to to make a trail connection or is within a park’s statutory boundaries. Parks & Trails Council saves critical land through our land acquisition program, utilizing the Samuel H. Morgan Land Fund. If your Friends Group hears about a property of interest that is coming up for sale, let us know about it! P&TC may be able to partner with your group and a public land agency. Discover more about how we save land by checking out our Land Protection Page and perusing the Land Application.

How We Save Land
Our members look out over the land we helped add to Anderson park
Four people in front of Lake 21
Work day at the land we acquired for Sibley State Park
7 people with safety vests

Friends organize and volunteer for clean-up events.

Share Your Events

Spread the word about your group’s upcoming events by submitting event information. P&TC then posts the event on our upcoming park and trail events listing as well as on your group’s page.

Submit your eventUpcoming events

Join P&TC Events

Each year, Parks & Trails Council hosts events where Friends Groups and members can get together to share what’s going on with parks and trails.

Day on the Hill

An advocacy day to learn about the P&TC legislative agenda supporting parks and trails and gain skills in working with your legislators.

Day on the Hill Details
Table discussions
Table discussions

Annual Dinner

A sit-down affair with parks and trails supporters from across the state that features a guest speaker, silent auction, and P&TC board announcements.

Annual Dinner Details
Photo booth

Strategies to Implement
Projects & Events

Projects and events take a lot of planning. Look at the strategies below for ideas on how to approach your group’s project or event.


There are endless possible projects that Friends Groups may take on. It is important to work with the land management agency to identify mutually-beneficial projects that support the Friends Group’s mission and the agency’s mission.

Project Ideas

  • Add benches along a trail
  • Install a rain garden
  • Remove invasive species
  • Construct a new picnic shelter
  • Build a natural playground
  • Plant native trees, forbs, grasses, and flowers
  • Build and maintain hiking trails
  • Make interpretive signage
Installing a feature on a natural playground.
Two women cutting wire fencing
Cutting wire in May were Charlie Hovde, at left, of Long Lost Lake and Candy Malm of Park Rapids.
Friends and GreenTouch volunteers cleaning up the park
Friends and GreenTouch volunteers cleaning up the park
Three men putting trash in dumpster
Volunteers with the Sibley State Park Improvement Association clean up the land.
Two men planting trees in field
Friends assist in planting native plants in the park.
Norwegian style shelter along the Shooting Star Trail
The Friends fund raised and constructed this Norwegian shelter along the trail.
photo by Becky Hartwig
Volunteer grooming trails at Zippel Bay State Park
Volunteer grooming trails at Zippel Bay State Park
Volunteers resting
The enthusiastic group of volunteers.
Two people kneeling to install playground structure
Volunteers install a playground.


As with projects, there are also endless possible events that Friends Groups may take on. Events may happen in partnership with the land management agency and/or other partners, or Friends Groups may facilitate them alone.

Event Ideas

  • Lead interpretive walks or talks
  • Host a candlelight ski or hike
  • Have a trash pickup event
  • Organize a run or bike race
  • Fund raise at a dinner or gala
  • Curate musical performances
  • Facilitate a grand opening event
Group of volunteers by St. Croix River and garbage they cleaned up
Friends of Wild River State Park organize clean up events for the park
Crafting station in the park
The annual Maple Leaf Days is a key event for the Friends.
7 people with safety vests
Friends organize and volunteer for clean-up events.
Park visitors gathered around campfire during candlelight ski event
Friends tend the bonfire for the candlelight ski event
Group walking through prairie and looking at plants
The friends help to organize events throughout the year, like this prairie hike
DNR staff and members of the Friends of Big Bog at the grand opening of Big Bog State Recreation Area on June 4, 2006.
Group serving pancakes in the park visitor center
Friends of Wild River organize a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the park


We can do more together! It’s very important to maintain regular communication with the land management agency your group partners with. You can identify projects and events that would be mutually beneficial. Additionally, consider partnerships with community groups, local businesses, recreation clubs, etc. Each group has particular strengths and resources that can enable more impactful activities that you may not have the ability to do alone.

DNR staff collecting maple sap
Collecting maple sap for the Maple Syrup programs.

Goal & Project Planning

At the friends group workshops in 2019, the concept of a goal and project plan was introduced. This tool can help facilitate the conversation between a friends group and a land management agency about future projects. Feel free to download and use for your own planning purposes.

Make a Budget

Creating a specific event or project budget is a great way to make sure you stick to a plan. Depending on the event or project, you may want to consider getting sponsors, obtaining match funding, etc. Events are also a great way to raise money too!

Fundraising Resources
Group serving pancakes in the park visitor center
Friends of Wild River organize a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the park


Sharing your story before, during, and after a project or event helps your group build awareness and interest in your activities. Getting the word out can bolster event participation, increase membership, connect you with more people, and highlight the impact of your work. When planning a project or event, don’t forget about communicating your story. Also, take pictures!

Communication Resources
Photo by Paul Sundberg