Latest Happenings for Friends of Sherburne NWR

Friends of Sherburne Strategic Planning Process

2016 ended with the Friends of Sherburne NWR very appreciative for the support of refuge staff, the membership and surrounding communities during the Be Wild Campaign. Identifying the many needs of the new Oak Savanna Learning Center and securing funds as required was a huge challenge for our organization. Recognizing it was necessary to reconsider how we can best serve the mission of FWS at Sherburne station and our stakeholders in the communities, a strategic planning process was undertaken to define and clarify our new goals.  We again thank refuge staff, our members and community partners for input on this process to develop our Four Pillars and Objectives.  In June 2017 the Friends Board started forming the committees that will establish action plans, timelines and funding to direct our work going forward. If you are interested in joining in on this exciting journey please contact any of the Friends of Sherburne Board of Directors for more information on how you can help.  You can reach us at


Friends of Sherburne NWR Announce Successful Completion of

Be Wild Campaign for Youth Nature Education

Almost two years to the day since their first campaign planning meeting, the Friends of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge announced that they have reached their goal of raising $250,000 to furnish the refuge’s Oak Savanna Learning Center and enhance the adjacent outside learning spaces. “We want to thank everyone for their generous support,” said Sue Hix, Be Wild Campaign chair. “Reaching our goal was definitely a community effort.”
More than 260 gifts from individuals, families, community organizations, businesses, and foundations contributed to this success. Gifts, including cash donations, goods, services, and grants, have been used to provide tables and chairs, A/V system, patio sitting wall, sidewalks, landscaping, trails, kiosk, signage, wetlands education dock, and more, Hix reported.
Since the center opened in May 2016, visitors of all ages and from all across the country have taken advantage of the new facility and amenities at the site. Although the learning center has already hosted a variety of meetings and events, its most important function has been to welcome more than 2,000 students from area schools in repeat visits for hands-on, standards-based lessons that enrich classroom learning.
According to Michelle Bengson, former refuge visitor services manager, “Everyone who comes to the center is invited to become a ‘naturalist,’ a person who studies nature. By becoming naturalists, students practice science skills like inquiry and observation as well as character-building skills like being calm, quiet, and respectful. And they get exercise as they explore. In essence, students learn that nature offers life-long learning and is a source to draw upon for strength, peace, beauty, and joy.”


Fall Wildlife Festival 2017 was a special event at Oak Savanna Learning Center on Sherburne NWR as the Friends of Sherburne presented to the public a series of paintings by local artist Gary Moss. Gary grew up around Sherburne Refuge, and in his career has received national recognition for his waterfowl paintings. He formed a special partnership with the Friends and Sherburne NWR staff to create this amazing representation of the refuge throughout the seasons. You are welcome to visit and view this art in the lobby of Oak Savanna Learning Center whenever it is open for public events.  Gary presented information on his career and the process of creating this artwork during the afternoon of our Fall Festival.

Fall of 2017 saw the completion of the laying of pavers recognizing donors at a lifetime level of support for the Friends of Sherburne activities. In front of Oak Savanna Learning Center donor recognition area are two recently installed benches that were paid for by donors. These were timely additions just before the Fall Wildlife Festival.