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Get to know

The Friends

The Friends of Minneopa State Park is a non-profit, volunteer organization of citizens interested in preserving, managing, and promoting the resources of the park.

Harvest Fest 2014.JPG

About the Friends' Early Days

It was one of those warm April evenings in Southern Minnesota when the air is so gentle and the birdsong so sweet you feel you could just float away.

Such weather was the background for the organizing meeting of the Friends of Minneopa in the spring of 1998.

The organization was formed following a public meeting called by Brand Frentz, a local environmental activist, with the encouragement of Howard Ward, the park manager, and help from the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota. More than 50 people came to the community meeting room at Benco Electric next to the park. The statements made at the meeting showed that people in the Mankato community had remarkable affection for the park and a desire to take care of it.

The Friends of Minneopa State Park became a non-profit corporation registered under the laws of the State of Minnesota. According to the organization’s Articles of Incorporation, the purpose of the organization is "to work with the Minneopa State Park to preserve, manage, and promote the resources of the park." 

The first general meeting of the new organization was in June 1998, and the Friends have met quarterly since that time. Meetings are traditionally held on the third Thursday of January, April, July, and October and have featured talks and programs on all aspects of the park: history, geology, birds, vegetation, animal life, and more. 

Current Board Members from left to right:

  • Linda Engstrom, President

  • Merrill Frydendall

  • Tim Pulis

  • Tom Weigt

  • Kim Musser

  • Scott Kudelka

Bison Ambassador Volunteers at first training, January 2016: 

  • Alex Watson

  • Linda Engstrom

  • Tom Weigt

  • Taylor Heid

  • Scott Kudelka

  • Tim Pulis

The Friends organize various activities in the park. An annual breeding bird survey had been conducted each June since 1999. Friends members have led nature hikes and given talks on park history. The organization has re-published a history of the park’s early days and produced sets of note cards and postcards. The annual Minneopa Photo Contest run by the Friends has drawn outstanding work by local photographers. The Friends contributed directly to the park by purchasing the stove for the camper cabin. Members have also been involved in removing invasive plants (buckthorn, sumac) and collecting native plant seeds for prairie restoration.

The Friends’ newsletter, called the Minneopa Messenger, has been published quarterly since June 1998. The newsletter carries regular columns by the park manager and the president of the organization plus organizational news and feature articles on a variety of subjects ranging from articles about park history and wildlife, to the night Jesse James slept in the park, to an interview with the Friends member who removed 350 smelly dead fish from the pond below the falls – manually, one slimy fish after another (estimated weight -- 1/3 of a ton) and hauled them to a dumpster a quarter of a mile away in October 2001.

The Friends of Minneopa have been fortunate to have many fine volunteers doing the work of the organization. The presidents of the Friends have been Brand Frentz, Bernie Lindberg, Merrill Frydendall, LaVonne Craig, Harriet Mason, and Randy Wood. Gordon Herbst has been an officer as well as unofficial park historian and indefatigable worker for the benefit of the park. Many other members have contributed to the Friends’ work.

We welcome you and invite you to join us!

A big Thank You

To those that make the Friends possible


Here we take the time to appreciate the contributions throughout the years. From the Sponsors who believe in our vision all the way to the students that have a love for nature.

From us, The Friends of Minneopa, to you, Thank You.

Current Board Members
  • Harriet Mason

  • Kim Musser

  • Linda Engstrom

  • Merrill Frydendall

  • Randy Wood

  • Tim Pulis

  • Tom Weigt

From 2003-Present

From 2009-Present

From 2008-Present

From 1999-Present

From 2011-Present

From 2004-Present

From 2004-Present

Past Board Members
  • Alan Fitterer

  • Barbara Jackowell

  • Bernie Lindber

  • Brand Frentz

  • Gordon Herbst

  • Jeff Brand

  • Jim Matteson

  • LaVonne Craig

  • Mary Hollingsworth

  • Norm Peterson

  • Patrice Johnson

  • Richard Keir

From 2006-2007

From 1998-2000

From 1998-2001

From 1998-2002-----

From 1998-2003-----

From 2009-2011

From 2002-2004

From 2001-2004

From 2005-2008

From 2002-2003

From 2000-2002

From 2003-2005




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