prairie grass
May 6, 2019
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Behind the scenes insights from Friends of Bertram

Friends of Bertram is an active group that organizes and supports a number of events and projects at Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park each year. We’ll dive behind the scenes to better understand some of their strategies (and challenges) around membership, project coordination, and getting the word out. See insights below from Beth Green, friends member and city liaison.

Membership

A thank you cake for membersThe Friends of Bertram started out as a grass roots organization to help support the county and city with the acquisition of the parkland. Now that the entire park (1,200 acres) has been acquired by the city/county, the Friends decided to start a membership program to help build the base for raising money and holding events at the park. View the membership brochure.

Getting memberships has been a slow start, we have about 25 members to date with a core board membership of 7. We get stretched pretty thin as it’s usually the core board members along with a few others who seem to work all of the events. We are continuing to brainstorm on ways that we can build up membership and excite people into helping out!

Coordinating Events

kids engaging with rock paintingWe have a very good working relationship with both the City and the County. Two of our core board members serve on the Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Council as well as myself (as the recording secretary). Therefore, we are able to communicate directly with Wright County and City Parks staff on events and projects. The city, county, or Monticello community center will approach us about events that they want to hold at Bertram, and the Friends will discuss if and how they may support the event.

Raising Money

Friends members by their poster receiving a checkThanks to one of our core members working directly with a family trust with deep ties to Monticello’s history, we were able to secure a large $20,000 donation to the Friends. These funds are being used towards improvements in the park where needed such as the wayfinding signs, the viewing scope, a new kiosk, etc. Check out the article about the donation.

Our group’s main fundraiser is the annual memorial run, a trail run/walk held each fall. We are brainstorming other ideas, such as potentially setting up an online store to sell Friends of Bertram merchandise.

These raised funds are then used for projects that may need help with financing. For example, funds have gone towards a brush hog type mower for trail grooming, a fire pit, seating for the fire pit, wayfinding signs, a viewing scope at the Long Lake overlook, etc.

Getting the Word Out

We have built up a strong social media presence with our Facebook page. We try to promote city and county classes, events, and other happenings at the park on our page. We have built up a following of 1,500 people! We are, however, still trying to figure out how we can transition those followers into becoming active members.

To organize volunteers for an event, we will typically post on the Facebook page and website for event volunteers. There will be a list of what projects need to be done, the time slots available, etc. Then volunteers can just email to us the time slot that they can work.

We also try to keep our website as up-to-date as possible, and we include links on our site to park shelter rentals, and the YMCA. We have also started using Constant Contact to email blast when events are coming up.

two kids with faces painted check out the s'mores bar

Special thanks to Beth Green for sharing her insights about the group. P&TC looks forward to staying connected through the friends group program as the Friends of Bertram continues to grow.

Content contributed by: Beth Green, Friends of Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Go to friends' main page