a friend indeed

The mission of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is to empower people to cultivate vibrant parks, trees, and green spaces in the Grand Rapids community. Our vision is thriving parks and a sustainable urban forest that actively supports our community’s economic, environmental, and cultural health.

Our organization was founded in 2008, with the belief that all kids in our community are entitled to experiences in parks and opportunities to connect with nature. For some children in our community, their neighborhood park is their backyard; a place to discover their hidden talents and a place to build confidence in trying new things.

Great cities have great parks, and FGRP asserts that every resident in our community deserves to live within walking distance of a safe and beautiful public green space.

FGRP, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department, aims to meet the goals of the city’s Master Plan by working with community members to create stewards for parks and trees. Our volunteer program connects thousands of residents with opportunities to beautify a park or plant a tree each year.

We accomplish this through park events that bring people together. At many events, our staff gathers input from residents to elevate their voice in community revitalization, change misconceptions about green spaces and community parks, and to build healthy and active communities in the communal space that the park provides.

From 2008 to 2018, contributions to FGRP have mobilized 14,000 volunteer hours for tree planting and park beautification, trained 90 volunteer neighborhood foresters, and activated 64 park and tree focused events every year.

diversity and inclusion

Click here to learn about our Diversity and Inclusion statement.

mission

Empowering people to cultivate vibrant parks, green spaces, and trees in our community.

vision

Thriving parks and sustainable urban forest that actively support our community’s economic, environmental, and cultural health.

values

  1. advocacy
  2. catalyst
  3. dialogue
  4. engaging
  5. inclusive
  6. partnerships
  7. sustainability

core competencies

  • activator
  • collaborator
  • educator

Visit the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation to learn more about our parks system, recreation programs, and park reservations.

Team

DIA NOBLE
Community Engagement Coordinator
dia@friendsofgrparks.org

LAUREN DAVIS
Urban Forest Coordinator
lauren@friendsofgrparks.org

our team of interns
interested in working with us?
check out job postings here

  • board of directors

    Monica Steimle-App, Rockford Construction – Board President
    Lee Mueller, Davey Tree Expert Co. – Board Vice President
    Anna Baeten, Funky Buddha Hot House- Board Secretary
    Elaine Goralski, Plante Moran – Board Treasurer
    Josh Verhulst, Tech Defenders- Member at Large
    Corey Bixby, Orion Construction
    Tom BlowerStrategies Wealth Advisors
    Ken James, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
    John Shull, Spectrum Health
    Chris Spain, Smith Haughey Rice and
     Roegge
    Megan Odegaard, BDO USA and Farmhaus Cider
    Rachael Ruiz, WOOD TV  
    Kimberly Van Driel, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

  • city liaisons

    Kurt Ruppert, City Commissioner, City of Grand Rapids 
    David Marquardt, Director, City of GR Parks & Recreation 

partners in parks and trees

City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation

Grand Rapids Community Foundation

The Wege Foundation

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Grand Rapids Public Schools

Awards and recognition

Spirit of arbor day Award
Arbor Day Foundation, 2019
Awarded for commitment to growing our urban forest

Community Service Award
Arboriculture Society of MI, 2015
Awarded for engaging community

ideas that matter grant recipient
Sappi Fine Paper North America, 2013

Governor’s Service Award
Michigan Community Service Commission, 2013
Finalist—Outstanding Volunteer Program.

National Urban Forest Leadership
Arbor Day Foundation, 2013
Awarded for excellence in urban forest leadership

ABOVE AND BEYOND AWARD
Heart of West Michigan United Way, 2013
Awarded for our work around increasing volunteerism

PRESIDENT’S AWARD
Keep Michigan Beautiful, 2011
Awarded for leadership in beautification

GOLD LEAF AWARD
ISA, 2010
Awarded for outstanding landscape beautification activities

GOVERNOR’S SERVICE AWARD 
Michigan Community Service Commission, 2015
Recipient—Outstanding Volunteer Program