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:  

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! 

New! 2019 Community Supporters

We say "Thank you" to the many businesses that provided cash or in-kind support to the Friends.  Some of them responded to our annual appeal.  Others sponsored events like the "Rhythm and Blues" party or the fall Wildlife Festival.  Finally, some provided free services to on-refuge projects.  The full list is on the "Community Supporters" web page.

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. 

Board of Directors


The 2020 volunteer board of directors for Friends includes: 

(Clockwise starting at left)

  • Susan Julson (Secretary)

  • Carol VanHeel (Treasurer)

  • Steve Chesney (Vice President)

  • Matthew Finn

  • Lee Johnson (expired term)

  • Steve Karel (USFWS Project Leader - Staff Liaison)

  • Debra Sorenson (expired term)

  • Myrna Krueger (President)

  • Mike Brubaker

  • Alaina Larkin (Visitor Services Specialist - - Staff Liaison)

  • Elizabeth Thorson (expired term)

  • Bill Kolbinger

  • Emy Minzel

  • Marilyn Danielson

  • Randall Holt-Woehl (not shown)

  • Scott Suhsen (not shown)

You can reach the board at:


Photo by: Diana Doherty



The Friends of Sherburne nurture an appreciation for and the conservation of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge through education, volunteerism and philanthropy.

17076 293rd Avenue NW

Zimmerman, MN 55398



Since 1993, the Friends of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (a 501c(3) nonprofit organization) has been a proud partner of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.


The refuge is a part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, each refuge manages their designated tract of lands and waters that have been set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife, and plants.

© 2006-2020 Friends of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.
All rights reserved.