Friends of the Refuge Headwaters

A nonprofit organization

23 donors

The Advantages of Becoming a Member

As a dues-paying member you'll receive announcements about events like these as well as any other event we host or are part of, and some of these events are offered exclusively to dues-paying members.

Join Us at Our Monthly Meeting!

YOU ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND our monthly meetings: 4:30pm on the 4th Thursday of each month in room 20 on the ground floor of the Exchange Building, 4th and Center Streets, Winona.

What is the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, and what is the “Winona District”?

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is 240,000 acres of sloughs, floodplain forests, marshes, islands, and more that stretches more than 250 miles along the Mississippi River through four states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.  It was established in 1924 as a refuge for fish, wildlife, and plants, and a breeding place for migratory birds.  It’s designated as a Wetland of International Importance and a Globally Important Bird Area, and receives more visitors per year than any national refuge or park except Yellowstone.  And, the Refuge Headquarters are in the Exchange Building in downtown Winona.

The Winona District is 50,000 acres of Refuge from Wabasha to Trempealeau.  Nearly all members of

What do the Friends of the Refuge Headwaters do?

We do a wide variety of activities, nearly all in concert with the staff of the Refuge.  Most take place on the Refuge, but not all.  Here’s a short list of our activities:

  • Sponsor an annual Swan Watch
  • Provide fishing days both winter and summer for kids and disabled adults
  • Survey eagle nests
  • Carry out surveys of hunters and anglers
  • Install and monitor fishing line recycling containers at 40 boat landings
  • Remove invasive plant species
  • Carry out river cleanups
  • Plant trees on newly created islands
  • Bring in expert speakers on wildlife and conservation topics
  • Advocate for the refuge and national wildlife refuge system at the local, state, and federal level
  • And more.

Partnership with Jefferson Elementary School

Thanks to a grant we received from the National Environkmental Education Foundation and Toyota USA, we recently donated a "Live and Local" display to Jefferson Elementary School in Winona.  Jefferson Elementary is a designated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) school.  Because the cost of field trips is limiting, part of Jefferson School's teaching philosophy is to "bring the outside in."  The Live and Local Display does that: it consists of an aquarium and terrarium with local species.  Installed in the main entrance to the school, it is not only a focal point for daily observation by students, but is also used by various classes.

Funding Field trips for Kids and Parents

With further funding from the National Environmental Education Foundation and Toyota USA, Friends of the Refuge Headwaters will fund two field trips to the Refuge for students at Jefferson Elementary, including the costs of bus transportation and lunch.  We will also fund a field trip for youths from Project FINE, a Winona-based non-profit that serves immigrant families in our area.

Organization Data


Organization name

Friends of the Refuge Headwaters

Tax id (EIN)



Education Environment


51 E. 4th St., Ste 203
Winona, MN 55987