Grand Rpaids Friends of Parks
Park it
April 2017
volunteer with friends of gr Parks this arbor Day!           

Join FGRP and Mayor Bliss for a very special Arbor Day!

Arbor Day is a special day at Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, as it offers our staff a chance to share our love of trees and parks with the Grand Rapids community and know that across the nation other communities are celebrating too. At Friends of GR Parks we count down to Arbor Day, plan for it year round, and relish in it when it finally arrives. For our staff, Arbor Day is grounding and serves as a reminder of all that we aspire to do in our city. This year, Arbor Day is extra special because we are partnering with Mayor Bliss and her Mayor's Greening Initiative to do even more good. 

Although FGRP would enthusiastically celebrate this day no matter its roots, it's especially dear to Michiganders because Arbor Day originated with Detroit native J. Sterling Morgan. In 1872, Morgan was one of many pioneers who made a new home in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Morgan was keenly aware of the lack of trees, shade, and wind breaks available to homesteaders in Nebraska and devoted much of his free time to preaching the benefits of trees. That same year he submitted a resolution to the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture and the board declared April 10th as Arbor Day. Thus, J. Sterling Morgan quickly became known as the Father of Arbor Day and for decades his birthday, April 22nd, was known as Arbor Day. Now, Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April nationwide and across the globe. To learn more about this history visit the Arbor Day Foundation website.  

This year, Arbor Day takes place on Friday April 28th and with the Mayor's help we will plant over 350 trees in and around Martin Luther King Park. This is a unique opportunity for community members and corporate groups large and small to come together and celebrate spring by giving back. Tools, treats, and training will be provided...all we need are volunteers! 

If you are interested in volunteering as a community member, or if you are interested in getting involved as a corporation or organization, click on this link to learn more and register for this exciting Arbor Day planting! 

Questions can be directed to Rachel at or to FGRP staff at 616-288-7209. 


a letter from FGRP Executive Director Stephanie

Dear Friends of FGRP,
I am so excited to be a part of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. I grew up in Alger Heights, playing at and swimming at the Garfield Park pool. As a teenager I lived for a short time on the west side of GR and frequented John Ball and Richmond Parks.
As a child I spent almost every summer on my grandparents’ 40-acre wooden property in Northern Michigan. I learned to love and respect nature from them. Now all of my favorite activities involve being active and outside. I am a cyclist, a runner, a kayaker, a gardener, a snowshoer, and even a very amateur bird watcher. I have 5 children and, as a parent, I know how important it is to make sure our children get outside. They must, now more than ever, have access to parks, green spaces, and nature.
Children should not have to take an hour trip north to discover nature. Because there will always be children, we will always need parks and green spaces. As our city expands we need to ensure that parks and green spaces are accessible, equitable, and available for all of our community.
Friends is here to be that voice for our diverse community on issues of quality of life. Parks add to the business landscape and enhance the economic prosperity. Our role is to advocate for, and engage, our community in the green spaces and parks in our community. We will continue to partner with the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department. It is an exciting time in our great city!
The Parks & Recreation Master Plan is almost complete, the Mayor’s Greening Initiative Arbor Day planting is on April 28, and our Parks Alive and Urban Forest Project are flourishing with attendees. But Friends is more than planting trees. It is about unifying neighborhoods in their diverse identities and traditions to strengthen our access to nature, activity, exercise, and safe spaces for our entire community. Friends is about being the voice of advocacy, raising funds, and building up volunteers and opportunities to make our city even greater!
So what is the future of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks? This is a question I am eager to answer through meetings with key stakeholders and our community to create a common vision of what Friends can do for our community.
We will seek to strengthen community partnerships and we look forward to being a part of the collaborative that will add to conversations about racial equity, bringing back our rapids, enhancing the riverfront, and continuing to engage neighborhoods through parks and green spaces.
If I have not yet had the chance, I look forward to meeting you soon! I can’t wait to share our vision of how we believe that great cities, such as ours, have great parks, public spaces, and urban forests!

Stephanie Adams

Executive Director
Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

enhancing, expanding, and protecting our community parks
Friends of Grand Rapids Parks
PO Box 3199
Grand Rapids, MI 49501

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