We Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park invite you to join us in our activities.  Check here often for future activities and opportunities for volunteering.

Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park T-Shirts available! See this Poster for details.

Universe in the Park @ Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
Jun 29 @ 8:30 am – 10:30 am

Universe in the Park is an outreach program run by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics during the summer. At the events, representatives of the Institute will present a short (20?30 min) public talk and slide show. Presentations cover a variety of astronomical topics such as: the history of matter, how astronomers “see,” and a journey through our solar system.

Afterwards, if weather allows, attendees have the opportunity to view the sky through multiple 8-inch reflecting telescopes, operated by the staff and provided by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics. Additionally, we provide free star maps (e.g. and are happy to show visitors how to use them. Throughout the evening, we encourage questions from the audience and enjoy discussing topics ranging from backyard astronomy to the latest scientific discoveries.

Through these events, we hope to convey the excitement of modern astronomical research while simultaneously providing an enjoyable introduction to amateur astronomy. Although a vehicle permit is required to enter the park, the event is free to the public. Please join us!

Family Fun
Jul 27 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Join the Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park on Saturday July 27th for family fun at the park. From 1 to 3 pm, we will have nature painting for children of all ages (those under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult). Watercolor supplies and brief instruction will be provided. First come first served- supplies are limited.
From 2 to 4 pm, we’re having an ice cream social! Meet the friends group, learn about their goals, and enjoy the park. Ice cream treats will be distributed at the picnic shelter. Quantities are limited.
Aug 17 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am

This program will include live caterpillars and other hands-on materials. You will learn about the life cycle, migration, and population status of the monarch butterflies, how to look for signs of monarch activity and what you can do to help the population in your backyard. Following the program we will look for caterpillars and eggs on milkweed plants in the park. Very kid friendly!

Monarchs with Master Naturalist
Aug 24 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Nerstrand State Park’s restored prairie is a late summer gathering spot for Monarch butterflies filling up with wildflower nectar in preparation for their migration to Mexico. Meet at the park office and then carpool to the prairie for a guided tour with Master Naturalists. Choose from 0.9 mile or 1.4 mile hike. Long pants and closed toe shoes are recommended. Will be cancelled in case of rain.

Membership Meeting
Sep 22 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Annual membership meeting that will take place prior to the Gathering, at 4 pm at the park.

This brief meeting is required by our bylaws, and at it we will elect board members and review the previous year’s finances and accomplishments. 
Big Woods Gathering
Sep 22 @ 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
We are very excited to have Al Batt, writer, speaker, storyteller and humorist speaking at our annual Big Woods Gathering, to be held Sunday, September 22 at 5 pm at the park. Al is from Hartland, MN and writes humor and nature columns for many newspapers and does regular radio shows about nature. He writes a number of popular cartoon strips that are syndicated nationally and is author of the book, “A Life Gone to the Birds.” He is a columnist for “Bird Watcher’s Digest” and writes for a number of magazines and books. Al hosted TV shows for many years and speaks at festivals, conferences and conventions all over the world. He has received numerous awards for birding and wildlife conservation. 
Following the talk, at about 6 pm, the Friends are hosting a meal of the famous Nerstrand Meat Market hot dogs, with cider, chips, and cookies. You may bring a dish to share, but it’s not required. There is no charge for the meal, but donations are always welcome. 
Our beautiful 2020 Calendar featuring photo contest winners will be available for purchase for $10.00. Proceeds of this fundraiser will be used for future projects and events.