Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends

aka Formerly Refuge Friends Inc   |   Bloomington, MN   |  www.mnvalleyrefugefriends.org

Mission

To inspire our communities to conserve the environment, to encourage career opportunities for at-risk youth, and to provide nature-based education experiences for our neighbors right here in the Twin Cities and our visitors from around the world.

Ruling year info

2007

President

Robert "Randy" Petzel

Main address

3815 American Blvd E

Bloomington, MN 55425 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

REFUGE FRIENDS, INC.

EIN

20-8644416

NTEE code info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

According to the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the National Wildlife Refuge System encompasses more than 850 million acres of lands and waters across 568 National Wildlife Refuges and Marine National Monuments. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service receives 59 cents per acre to maintain lands and waters, and meet the needs of its more than 59 million annual visitors (pre-pandemic). In comparison, the National Park Service receives $31 per acre for land management. The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is one of the premier urban national wildlife refuges in the country. With more than 46 miles of trails and two visitor centers, the Refuge stretches 70 miles along the Minnesota River from Bloomington to Henderson. As the citizen support group of this Refuge, Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends assists the Refuge in its mission to "work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance the fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Learning Lab

An after-school enrichment program taught at a local nonprofit in a highly Spanish-speaking neighborhood. Nature hours are focused on building an environmental ethic while also helping meet English vocabulary goals.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Students Eagerly Acquiring Knowledge (SEAK) is an after-school science club for high school students. Refuge Friends Inc staff lead discussions about environmental issues that are important to the students, and assist students in developing service learning project. Seniors are provided one-on-one career counseling and the opportunity for a summer internship at a natural resource management agency post-graduation.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Average price of field trip tickets

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends works to ensure all field trips to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge are free.

Number of free participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Field trips were held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic

Number of youth receiving fishing poles and tackle boxes to take home during refuge-sponsored youth fishing day

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children, Preteens

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Our Kids Fishing Day was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic

Number of nature-based recreation programs offered through our urban mentoring program for youth

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We currently partner with Urban Bird Collective to offer a bird-watching program and with Ardent Outdoor Group to offer a fishing and ice fishing program. Our goal is to add archery in 2021.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends' objectives include:

1. Manage the Blufftop Nature Store at the Bloomington Education & Visitor Center
2. Welcome visitors and answer questions about the Refuge lands and programs at public information desks
3. Fundraise to support environmental education, habitat restoration, urban outreach, and art-related programs at the Refuge
4. Support Refuge programs and advocate for local environmental issues
5. Create opportunities for youth from under-resourced communities to engage with nature

Build awareness for the Refuge

Remove barriers that prevent youth and visitors from visiting the Refuge

Ensure a positive experience for visitors to encourage repeat visits

Recruit and maintain a volunteer base

Secure funding for existing and new educational programming and resources; habitat restoration; urban outreach; and art programming at the Refuge

In addition to Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is also supported by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Minnesota Valley Trust. These entities work together to ensure that Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge remains one of the premier urban refuges in the country.

Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends is led by a strong and dedicated board of directors who all volunteer for numerous activities at the Refuge.

In 2019, Refuge Friends hired its first employee and Executive Director who is responsible for modernizing the operations of the organization.

The Refuge is proud to have a dedicated network of more than 400 volunteers.

Thanks to generous support from our Refuge Friends donor-members as well as funders, Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends has been able to accomplish the following during FYE 2020.

* Transport thousands of students from nearby school districts during the past school year to and from the Refuge with the Blue Goose Bus Fund. Schools where at least half of the student population receives free or reduced-cost lunches qualify for this fund.

* Provide countless volunteer hours to staff the front desks at the Refuge visitor centers and operate the Blufftop Nature Store, assist in environmental education learning, and support events both at the Refuge and throughout the community, including the Minneapolis Monarch Festival and Minnesota Bat Festival. During the pandemic, we’ve supported the Refuge staff in its efforts to pivot to virtual events and establish the Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends YouTube channel, now home to a treasure trove of online environmental education resources.

* Provide support for five interns and temporary employees at the Refuge in community outreach, conservation, and environmental education, giving them opportunities to grow and develop as conservation leaders.

* Conduct habitat-related projects on the Refuge, including goat grazing to remove invasive species at the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center and to begin testing of chloride in Ike’s Creek, a restored brook trout stream steps away from the Mall of America.

* Work with Refuge staff to secure a partnership with Bloomington theater and visual arts nonprofit organization Artistry to rethink the Refuge’s gallery space and its use.

* Create a new urban mentoring program for youth to learn an outdoor activity both on and off the Refuge. We worked with Refuge staff to establish a birding program with the nonprofit organization Urban Bird Collective.

* Continue funding the position of our organization’s first-ever staff member and Executive Director. She has modernized our organization’s operations and has placed us on firmer footing both financially and culturally.

What's next:

The year ahead is not without its challenges. During the pandemic, our Refuge has seen a five-fold increase in visitors as our neighbors seek refuge in the Refuge. Our Blufftop Nature Store at the Bloomington Education & Visitor Center – a primary funding source for Refuge Friends’ activities – will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Our hope to re-engage in activities with members both on and off the Refuge is thwarted. During this time, our staff and Board of Directors will continue to forge ahead on behalf of the Refuge, thanks to the firm foundation of support that donors, volunteers, and funder have helped provide us.

Financials

Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends

Board of directors
as of 7/20/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Robert Petzel

Dave Guzzi

Steve Sutter

Barb Corriveau

Pat Graham

Shannon Breimhurst

Richard Sanford

Mercedes Akinseye

Andy Grewell

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/31/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability