Friends of Lake Elmo's Sunfish Lake Park

A nonprofit organization

$585 raised by 6 donors

12% complete

$5,000 Goal

The Sally Manzara Interpretive  Nature Center is a place of Peace and Respect for people of the community to teach and learn about nature.  We believe that how we treat people is more important than how we do things.  After a long closure due to COVID 19, we were able to re-open June 1 2021. We have a mask policy for indoor visiting to help our volunteers and visitors avoid spreading the virus. During the closure, volunteers came as individuals or families and did some amazing upgrades of the exhibits, including the installation of an observation beehive where visitors can watch the bees making honey and more bees.   Of course the outdoor exhibits are open, any time the Park is open - dawn to 9 PM.  For location, visit

We  concentrate on Sunfish Lake Park and the wide variety of plants and animals that live there, and how they interact .  We depend on donations to operate and maintain the building, and to run programs.  Examples (pre-pandemic, and hopefully coming back soon ) are nature-immersion summer camps, a destination for Senior Living residents,  and a meeting venue for groups such as the Stillwater Schools Native American Parent Advisory Committee, Homeowner's Associations, Wild Ones, etc. We also serve as a place for Scouts to do service projects,  home-school groups to do science projects, for special events such as the Prairie Pioneer Tea party, and this year were able to have an outdoor Family Nature Day on July 10th. Wr are planning to have our  Buckthorn Festival on October 23rd, where teams compete to fight this invasive species in Sunfish Lake Park  - about 60 volunteers were involved each previous year. With donations from the Lake Elmo JayCees and local businesses, they were provided with accordion music by Don,  chili dogs roasted over a buckthorn fire, Billy Hagberg's Buckthorn Beefsticks, cookies and beverages.  We have received a grant to enable us to remove buckthorn from 40 acres of Sunfish Lake Park and restore the native ecosystem, volunteer help is needed, please contact George at 651-757-5610 for more information or see our website

Our Spring for Nature annual fundraising dinner has been postponed to May 13, 2022, Minnesota author William Kent Krueger will be the speaker.   

The Friends of Lake Elmo's Sunfish lake Park was established to build and operate the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center in memory of Sally Manzara who died of pancreatic cancer in 2015. She and Tony had saved money for travel during retirement, and before she died, she agreed that the money should be spent to build a nature center in the Park she loved. The City of Lake Elmo was willing to lease one acre of the Park to the Friends, and construction began in September 2017, culminating in a grand opening on June 2, 2018. 

Please visit our website for further information

Organization Data


Organization name

Friends of Lake Elmo's Sunfish Lake Park

Tax id (EIN)



Education Environment Community


PO Box 241