Our Work

JOIN US
On this page:  Our Pillars | Our Projects 

Our Pillars

As diverse as the islands themselves and the people who love them, our work at Friends reaches across a wide spectrum of projects and issues all focused on the four guiding pillars of our organization.

Person stick image with arms outstretched Accessibility

National parks belong to all of us. Our strong partnership with the National Park Service, business partners, and organizations is removing barriers for people of all abilities to explore the Apostle Islands. Our Access for All fund is helping to leverage funds and support in a variety of ways, from the creation of the all-accessible Stockton Island amphitheater to captioning videos and alt-text features on our internet offerings. The need to enhance park accessibility for all is a major goal of Friends and the National Park Service and an important focus of our work.

Orange LeafEducation

The heart of our parks is the people who explore them, learn about them, love them, and then work to protect them. If the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is to thrive in the face of changing times, we must work to keep (or make) the park relevant to both current and future generations. Friends works to connect with all demographics including those who have yet to experience our national parks to ensure a strong base of park users, park supporters, and park lovers through our support of programs like Stewards of Tomorrow, and Island School. We also offer adult education through programs, publications, outreach, podcasts, and more.

Three people head and shoulder outline Service

To love a place is to give back. Friends offers our members a wide variety of ways to give back to the islands. Plant beach grass on the Raspberry Island sandspits or mainland beaches to prevent erosion, tend the historic gardens at the Michigan Island Lighthouse or the Gaylord A. Nelson garden on the headquarters grounds, build bat houses, participate in litter pickups to keep trash out of the lake and off our islands, educate beach walkers about the fragility of nesting piping plovers, help with public outreach at events, all of these and more help you help the islands you love.

Hand with two leaves aboveStewardship

How do we preserve history in the park? How do we ensure that others can experience the dark skies or diversity of wildlife for generations to come? We become stewards of this place. Friends works with the park to provide funding for projects like the restoration of historic structures, purchasing bear boxes to keep both campers and wildlife safe, exploring the role of Citizen Science projects in the park, purchasing solar shares for the new Visitor Center at Little Sand Bay to lower its carbon footprint, and considering a Dark Sky designation to keep the stars shining bright. We all have a hand in the future. Help us use it wisely.

Sailboats in the Apostle Islands - Jeff Rennicke

Safe boating is informed boating

Wave Watch is a partnership with UW-Madison and the National Park Service to deploy a system of 5-8 solar-powered buoys in the Apostle Islands, giving kayakers, sailors, and power boaters real-time wave and wind information refreshed every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. Real information when you need it most.

Help us return the buoys to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in the summer of 2024 and beyond.

Apostle Islands Starry Skies Initiative logo featuring silhouette of Honeymoon Rock and a starlit dark sky

Starry Skies Initiative

The Apostle Islands Starry Skies Initiative, launching in 2024, seeks to protect night sky resources in and around the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore through the identification and monitoring of light pollution, public outreach, increasing awareness, and a potential designation for the Apostle Islands as an International Dark Sky Park through the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).

You can help keep those stars shining bright.

Our Projects

Friends works closely with the staff of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to coordinate projects that most benefit the park and with the help of members like you ensure the quality of our park far into the future.

Click each of the tabs displayed below to learn more about projects related to our four pillars.

Accessibility

You did it! Access for All campaign goal reached for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

You did it! Access for All campaign goal reached for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

With your help, Friends of the Apostle Islands has reached its fundraising goal of $325,000 for its Access for All initiative. “It takes all of us to make a difference,” Friends Executive Director Jeff Rennicke said in announcing the achievement, “and with the help of nearly 200 individual donors and more than a dozen caring, supportive corporate sponsors, we did it together.”

read more
Wisconsin Sea Grant climate and tourism outreach specialist supports Access for All

Wisconsin Sea Grant climate and tourism outreach specialist supports Access for All

“It’s obvious that there’s a lot of thought and passion that’s gone into the work, and it was really cool to see it personally. . . We’re trying to help increase access to coastal spaces so that people can come to the lakeshore, learn about the Great Lakes and experience it for themselves. Supporting efforts like these falls within our mission of outreach and education, and also promoting the sustainable use of the Great Lakes, as well.”

read more

Education

Beauty from above: A winter hike on the Lakeshore trail

Beauty from above: A winter hike on the Lakeshore trail

It has been a winter of extremes: the warmest December on record in many parts of the northland, historically low ice coverage on Lake Superior, and then the plummeting temperatures of mid-January. There were windless days on end with the lake barely rippled and then a storm bringing gusts up to 53 miles an hour at Devils Island churning the lake into waves of 12 to 15 feet.
There is beauty in extremes, the kind of beauty that can turn a hike into a journey through a landscape of enchantment.

read more
Bayfield’s Carnegie Library embraces dark sky protection with planned lighting changes

Bayfield’s Carnegie Library embraces dark sky protection with planned lighting changes

Bayfield Carnegie Library’s motto is “A compass for curious minds.” One of the primary goals of library director Teresa Weber is to enlighten the public. Right now, Teresa is also trying to “enlighten” the walkways leading to the library without negatively impacting the dark skies over the city. Teresa recently spoke with Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore board member Neil Howk about this upcoming project. Neil also serves on the library board.

read more
A conversation with Ojibwe Education Park Ranger Peyton Martinson

A conversation with Ojibwe Education Park Ranger Peyton Martinson

In August, 2023, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, in partnership with Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, announced Peyton Martinson as the newly appointed park ranger cultural educator for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. 
Neil Howk recently sat down with Peyton to get to know her a bit better.

read more
Hand with two leaves above

Stewardship

Giving Tuesday 2022 – Access for All

Giving Tuesday 2022 – Access for All

Friends of the Apostle Islands is asking your support in the biggest capital campaign in our organization’s history aimed at supporting the ongoing efforts of the National Park Service to remove barriers to the park – from replacing those forty-five steps at the Meyers Beach launching site with an all-accessible ramp, to continuing the boardwalk project on Sand Island, to ensuring the latest technology on interpretive signs and our website.

read more
The power of one: Paul Blanchard

The power of one: Paul Blanchard

If you were out at Sand Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore this summer, you likely saw (and probably heard) the National Park Service crew hard at work hauling planks, pounding nails, tightening bolts, working on an addition to the long-term boardwalk...

read more

Service

Connecting people and the Apostle Islands to Costa Rican parks

Connecting people and the Apostle Islands to Costa Rican parks

Ten Bayfield area volunteers, including “Friends” Board members Neil Howk and Mark Peterson, recently completed two-weeks of conservation work on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula as a product of an agreement between Lake Superior’s national parks and Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).

read more
Erica Peterson’s legacy will live on!

Erica Peterson’s legacy will live on!

Erica saw her role with the Friends as “an opportunity to give back to the Park for all its beach walks, bog smells, wild storms, eagle sightings, and night skies,” she says, and in turn, “help steward its vital future.”

read more
Watch now: Sense of Adventure: Inspire!

Watch now: Sense of Adventure: Inspire!

In our new installment of our “Sense of Adventure” series, part of our 50th anniversary summer celebration, we will look at the many ways these islands and this lake inspire us – poetry, art, jewelry making, night photography, music, even the inspiration to connect the islands through swimming, a kind of dance among the waves. 

read more