Nearly twenty years ago a group of individuals banded together to provide support for the preservation and beautification of Father Hennepin State Park. They created the Friends of Father Hennepin, a group that continues to work closely with park staff as a source of volunteer labor, fundraising and community support for the park.
They are a multigenerational group that is bound together by their interest and appreciation for Father Hennepin State Park—a small park that nonetheless boasts a quarter-mile-long natural sandy beach on Lake Mille Lacs.
Over the years, this group has accomplished many projects for the park. They helped to add a playground at the park by writing a grant to fund the project and rolling up their sleeves for the installation. They had an osprey nest pole erected just west of the headquarter building. And they were influential in getting a new information sign install by the beach.
The Friends work to clean up the park with the annual Park Cleanup Day sponsored by East Central Energy. They gather with other volunteers from the community and the energy cooperative to plant trees, rake the grounds, level out the gravel camper pads and maintain the park’s trails. One member in particular has put in many hours in rehabilitating trails over the years whenever needed.
The Friends have recently expanded their efforts to support the park by opening up a brat stand in downtown Isle, located about 10 minutes from the park. They can be seen their on given weekends, selling brats. The proceeds are used to support projects for the state park. “It is the desire of the Friends group to see Father Hennepin Park continue to flourish and be persevered for future generations,” says long-time member Kieth Severs.