They’ve Got Friends

“Friends” groups are an integral part of the continuing operations and promotion of Door County’s five state parks. These groups of local volunteers use their time to maintain and improve the parks and to help raise money for special projects and preservation – all designed to increase enjoyment for all park-goers.

The information below tells what the groups are doing for their park and how to connect with them.

Friends of Peninsula State Park

Connect:, 920.868.6256
Founded: 2007
Activities: Volunteers recruit others to help with programs such as the First Day Hike, candlelight ski, Work*Play*Earth Day and other special events. They also provide financial support for programs, projects and seasonal staff positions, and they assist with the Door County Fall 50.
Objectives for 2023 include using the new Nature Center amphitheater for additional outdoor educational and historical programs, fundraising to expand the Nature Center parking and expanding the natural resources educator position to offer hands-on programming. They’ll also be writing grants, continuing support of trail improvements and assessing opportunities to make the park more accessible.

Friends of Potawatomi State Park

Founded: 1995
Activities: The volunteers provide funding for the park naturalist, supply fire rings for campsites, replace benches at the park amphitheater and host Run Wild – the oldest run in Door County – the first Saturday of October. They also groom and clean the cross-country ski trails, plant and maintain flower beds at the park office and organize work days to clean campsites, trails and playground areas.
Objectives for 2023 include raising funds to repair and update the waterfront shelter on Shoreline Road.

Friends of Rock Island State Park

Connect:, 715.570.5734
Founded: 1994
Activities: Volunteers help to prepare and clean the property at the beginning of the season and close it at season’s end. In between, they run the Lighthouse Museum docent program and the campground host program, and they put on the annual Family Fun Day fundraiser in July.
Objectives for 2023 include donating an e-bike with a trailer for park staff. The Friends have also been awarded a matching grant to complete a comprehensive signage plan for Rock Island, as well as a matching grant to purchase 15 picnic tables to replace some older ones and add new ones to other areas.

Friends of Whitefish Dunes

Connect:, 920.823.2400
Founded: 1991
Activities: The volunteers coordinate work days during the spring and fall and provide lunch for the volunteers. They fund the seasonal naturalist position who plans and presents programs throughout the summer, planted a pollinator garden in front of the Nature Center, hosted summer and winter candlelight events, and coordinated a Trail Ambassadors program to help ensure the safety and well-being of visitors by preserving and protecting trail resources.
Objectives for 2023 include adding an electric-vehicle charging station to the parking lot; coordinating the addition of new and improved signage along the Brachiopod Trail; adding a parking lot for ADA accessibility, a wood-burning insert to the fireplace and railings to steps leading to the Old Baldy platform; and repairing steps. They will also fund the park to repair and improve the current Native American Village display, as well as provide funds to add and improve rescue stations and riptide warning information on the beach.

Newport Wilderness Society

Connect:, 920.854.2500
Founded: 1985
Activities: Volunteers help to coordinate cleanup and work days in the spring and fall. In between, they provide annual funding for the park naturalist’s salary and park educational programs; provide qualified guides for interpretive nature hikes; host special events, including Newport Wilderness Days, Perseid Meteor Shower viewing and a candlelight-ski event; develop and underwrite many of the park’s brochures and booklets; help to purchase essential equipment for the park and its visitors; help to develop and finance the park’s informational kiosks; help to fund continuing-education opportunities for the park naturalist and volunteers; and manage the inventory and sales of merchandise at the visitors’ center.
Objectives for 2023 include finishing the Fern Trail’s ADA-compliant, elevated boardwalk; revamping the Newport Nature Center with reworked exhibits and a mural; planting 500 trees at the park entrance; and continuing to support the park naturalist and interpretive programs at the park.

Related Organizations