Our Work

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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.

Double kayak being paddled into a cave

Access for All!

Want to make a donation that goes straight to work as soon as you send it?

Each year, Friends features one important project and this year it is our Access for All campaign. Support the park’s efforts to build boardwalks, accessible campsites, include accessibility features on interpretative signs and websites, and make our park accessible to all. Make a difference now.

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

An Earth Day letter to you from the daughter of Gaylord Nelson

An Earth Day letter to you from the daughter of Gaylord Nelson

Dear Friends of the Apostle Islands:
In 1970, my father Gaylord Nelson was at the heart of two major movements in this country – the founding of Earth Day and the legislative designation of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin. Both efforts to celebrate and protect the life-sustaining and life-enhancing wonders of our planet were bound by his undying commitment to inclusion. I believe they are connected.

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Access for All: National Park Service wants your comments on plans for accessible ramp at Meyers Beach, Little Sand Bay trails

Access for All: National Park Service wants your comments on plans for accessible ramp at Meyers Beach, Little Sand Bay trails

Plans for an accessible ramp at the popular Meyers Beach kayak launch are taking a significant step forward in April, as the National Park Service publishes a draft Environmental Assessment and asks for public comment for the next 30 days. The 54-page document says “Providing an Architectural Barriers Act-compliant ramp would provide long-term, beneficial impacts to visitor experience via access to the beach and primary kayak launching location to the mainland sea caves, increase safety and improve capacity for visitors of all abilities. ” It also goes into great detail about various environmental impacts.

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An accessible dream: kayaking the Apostle Islands

An accessible dream: kayaking the Apostle Islands

National parks, like the Apostle Islands, belong to all of us. Yet for the one in five Americans like Janet who live with mobility challenges, obstacles like the stairs at Meyers Beach can spell the difference between the adventure of a lifetime and a lifetime of being left behind. Listen to Janet tell her story of overcoming that obstacle and of the importance of trips like this to all of us. Then join our Access for All initiative to keep this dream alive for Janet, and many others like her.

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Education

Join us for “Apostle Islands in National Geographic: the story behind the story”

Join us for “Apostle Islands in National Geographic: the story behind the story”

The March issue of National Geographic magazine celebrates Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with the kind of global exposure few other publications can match. “Return to Wild Waters” describes the Islands as a “sublime, yet dangerous playground for kayakers, sailors and powerboaters to explore.” And on March 30th at 7 p.m., you’ll be able to experience the story behind the story during a special online event.

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Full Circle: Second and third grade students from Georgia visit the Apostle Islands on a virtual tour of our national parks

Full Circle: Second and third grade students from Georgia visit the Apostle Islands on a virtual tour of our national parks

With Education as one of our pillars, opportunities to learn and teach others about the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore have always been an important part of the mission of Friends. Recently, Executive Director Jeff Rennicke, a former teacher himself, had the chance to speak by Zoom to the second and third grade students of Ms. Hildebrandt’s class from High Meadows School in Roswell, Georgia.

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Badges of honor: Celebrating Junior Rangers

Badges of honor: Celebrating Junior Rangers

Raise your right hand and repeat after the ranger: “I am proud to be a National Park Service Junior Ranger. I promise to appreciate, respect, and protect all national park places. I also promise to continue learning about the landscape, plants, animals, and history of...

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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.

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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...

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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).

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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.”

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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. 

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