Friends of Freedom Park
Friends of Freedom Park is the community-driven non-profit organization that first envisioned a new era for beautiful Freedom Park, located high on the bluffs of the mighty Mississippi River. This vision grew to include a state-of-the-art learning center, offering upgraded amenities accessible to all guests --called the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center at Freedom Park. This new era for Freedom Park would not be possible without the highest level of community support, for which the Friends of Freedom Park are eternally grateful. Your ongoing support today is critical to the continued success of our mission-driven programs and high-quality visitor experiences.
What drives us?
We want to provide engaging local experiences that merge nature, culture, and community at the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. We want to inspire community generosity and sustainable partnerships that connect people to life at the confluence...for generations to come.
Impact: Each year we welcome over 15,000 visitors to the Center and host hundreds of people at our diverse educational programs. The Center is also a hub for community activity. We offer local schools, churches, 4H groups, and other non-profit organizations the opportunity to use our amenities at the Center and Freedom Park. Prescott has come to use this space for ongoing events and annual celebrations that create traditions, good memories, and a sense of community.
Our Story: Honoring Our Roots, Soaring to New Heights
Originally called “Tourist Park” when founded in 1928, Freedom Park was renamed in 1982 to honor an eagle named “Freedom”. “Freedom” played an important role in a national celebration honoring U.S. service people held as prisoners-of-war or missing-in-action in the 20th century. Click here to read more about how Freedom Park got its name and came to be.
Building the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center:
The idea of creating a Visitor & Learning Center was first proposed in 1999; Prescott area residents, along with city officials, took on the considerable task of planning the project. The non-profit group Friends of Freedom Park formed to spearhead fundraising efforts, organize media attention, and recruit volunteers. Three-quarters of the cost of the project came from a grant from the National Scenic Byways Program of the Federal Highway Administration (US Department of Transportation), and Friends of Freedom Park raised the rest of the money needed to bring the project to completion almost five years after the idea’s inception.
July 29th of 2005 was the Ground Breaking Ceremony; the Grand Opening took place the following year on May 26th of 2006. This event was commemorated with a dedication, a ribbon-cutting, and four days of music, educational activities, a parade, and historical reenactors bringing characters from Prescott’s past to life.
Interpretive Goals of the GRRVLC
To interpret the Mississippi River as a national, cultural, and environmental resource;
To interpret the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers as natural areas rich in both environmental and historical stories;
To provide opportunities to explore the balance between use and restoration and conservation of river and other natural resources;
To provide learning and recreational opportunities for residents and others in surrounding communities, including school children;
Serve as a portal to the panoramic vistas of Freedom Park;
Provide orientation and information about nearby natural and cultural areas and local amenities to travelers.
SUPPORTING THE GEM OF PRESCOTT
Memorials and Honorariums
We are grateful for the many people and partners whose memorials, honorariums, and dedications have helped to bring beauty, value, and functionality to Freedom Park. Click here to see a complete map of all memorials and honorariums in the park. Three key players have been:
Roy Finley Drive: Roy Finley was a lifelong Prescott resident and served the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission with great dedication and commitment during the years of 1938 – 1993. Roy Finley is commemorated in the name of our entry drive, which welcomes visitors every day to our beautiful park.
Everts Point: Rolland and Evelyn Everts represent the multitude of people who live beside and love the Mississippi River. They worked a lifetime tending this magnificent resource. Even now, their legacy gift helps pass this knowledge and love to a new generation here at the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center. We are grateful. This point, with its breathtaking riverview vistas, is named in their honor.
Friends of Freedom Park gratefully acknowledges the vision, direction, and financial support from the Prescott Foundation that made the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center at Freedom Park a beautiful place for both community members and guests to enjoy.
Board of Directors
The Friends of Freedom Park Inc is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and has a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Prescott, WI to operate the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center at Freedom Park. The mission of the Friends of Freedom Park is to support the operations and educational programs of the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center through membership, volunteer recruitment, and fundraising.
Rick Allen (Chair)
Jeff Ruehle (Vice Chair, interim-Treasurer)
Ka Vang (Secretary)
Ex Officio Board Members:
City of Prescott Administrator, Jayne Brand
City of Prescott Parks, Bailey Ruona
Israel Haas, firstname.lastname@example.org - Executive Director
Emily Betzler, email@example.com - Communications and Program Assistant
City of Prescott: Learn more about Prescott
Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce: Where to eat, shop, stay and play in Prescott
Scenic St. Croix Valley Tourism Alliance: Learn more about what to see and do along the St. Croix River
Mississippi Valley Partners: Learn more about what to see and do along the Mississippi river
Prairie Habitat Restoration
One of the projects that we need the most help with right now is the restoration of our unique “goat prairie”. The prairie remnant that we are working hard to restore is a piece of Prescott’s heritage. Some still remember sitting on the bluffside and watching the blazing star, pasque flower, and fuzzy prairie smoke waving in the breeze. It was a breathtaking foreground to the grand river vistas. Regrowing this rare treasure would bring us more than beauty; on a local level it would be a major step in addressing the pollinator crisis. Pollinators and some other native fauna need this specialized habitat in order to thrive. Human development has fractured their habitats, but we have the opportunity to expand this ecosystem and make a big impact.