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Elementary students examining pond life at Sherburned National Wildlife Refuge

About Friends

Photo by: Bruce Ellingson

Since 1993, Friends of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, a charitable nonprofit organization, has been a proud partner of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. 

The Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is 30,700 acres of unspoiled open space, located just 50 miles from Minnesota's Twin Cities metro area.


This expanse of federal land features a diverse biological community, characteristic of the transition zone between tallgrass prairie and forest. Established to protect and restore the special habitats associated with the St. Francis River Valley for migratory birds and other wildlife, the refuge is known for its globally significant acres of existing oak savanna, with additional acres being restored on a grand scale.

The Friends organization exists to support events, interpretive, and education programs at the refuge. Established in 1993 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization, we are managed by a board of directors and guided by a set of strategic pillars:  

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Friends of Sherburne NWR is working to become a truly inclusive organization that rejects racism in all its forms and embraces cultural and economic diversity. We want all to feel welcome and safe to visit the refuge. 


We all need the beauty and peace that nature and wildlife provide. It is imperative that people of all colors and ethnicity, regardless of religion, gender or ability, are aware of this sanctuary and feel comfortable visiting and connecting with nature.


We understand we need to commit to examining all activities and directing our outreach through a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) perspective. Going forward we pledge to listen and learn what changes we should make so that we reflect, welcome and serve our entire community. We invite your ideas.

The five pillars of the Friends strategy are enumerated.  Education, Advocacy, Volunteerism, Inclusion and Sustainability

We invite you to learn more about the refuge and our organization by browsing this website, following us on social media, and attending refuge and Friends events.


As an all-volunteer organization we depend on dedicated volunteers, donors, and others (like you!) to support our mission. We hope you join us! 

History of the Friends

A set of interviews about the 25 year history of the Friends premiered at our 25th birthday party

Video by: Bruce Ellingson

Organization Information


The Friends of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is a grassroots nonprofit organization with a single purpose: to nurture an appreciation for, and the conservation of, the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. 


We work toward an intergenerational community of active stewards who conserve, protect and support the unique natural resources at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System. 

FriendsOfSherburneBOD2023-4 Smaller.jpg

Board of Directors


The 2023 volunteer board of directors for Friends includes: 

(Left to right, starting with front row)

  • Scott Suhsen

  • Bill Kolbinger

  • Bruce Galer

  • (back row)

  • Bearpaw Shields

  • Leah Bronken

  • Steve Chesney (President)

  • Roger Leider (Treasurer)

  • Carol Mertesdorf (Vice President)

  • Mike Brubaker (Secretary)

  • (Not shown)

  • Jade Pederson (Staff Liaison)

  • Matthew Finn

  • Helle Lukk

You can reach the board at:

Mushrooms on tree bark at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

Photo by: Diana Doherty

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