Focus on Friends - The Bong Naturalist Association***

Bong Naturalist Association is an all-volunteer friends group that partners with the park to enhance and protect the natural resources and to educate visitors on the need for conservation and preservation. Bong Naturalist Association was founded as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit corporation in 1994. All of the association's activities and money raised are used to benefit Richard Bong State Recreation Area and its visitors.
The Associations major accomplishments include raising funds and building an observation platform overlooking the refuge and raising funds to build a solarium addition on the the visitor center.
Beach-goers will also see a playground funded by the association.
The Richard Bong State Recreation Area was once designated to be a jet fighter base, The Recreation Area is fittingly named after Major Richard I. Bong, a Poplar, WI native who was America's leading air ace during World War II. The air base was abandoned three days before concrete was to be poured for a 12,500-foot runway.
Richard Bong State Recreation Area is eight miles southeast of Burlington, WI on State Highway 142.Nearly every Saturday throughout the year, Richard Bong State Recreation Area has interpretive programs for people of all ages. Knee High Naturalist is just one of the many types of educational and interpretive programs at Richard Bong State Natural Area. Bong Naturalist Association volunteers help work at these events, and the organization also raises money to supply crafts and activities for participants. The Bong Naturalist Association also holds many fun events for adults and families. February's event is called “Return to Romance”. The event includes a candlelit hike, sipping hot cocoa by a bonfire, and homemade desserts and warm drinks in the decorated Visitor Center, often to the accompaniment of live music. Springtime brings promoting wellness through fitness and healthy eating. A fun event for the family is always “EcoHalloween”. Families walk along a lighted path where they meet “feathered” friends. Skits and campfires along with Halloween refreshments are a hi-lite of this event.
The public is encouraged to become a member of the Bong Naturalist Association.
Benefits of Membership
  • The Heron, a newsletter, published four times a year and includes the program schedule
  • Discount of Friends merchandise
  • Invitations to Members Only events
  • Reserved spots in select popular programs
  • Information on special events and nature outings
  • Ongoing training and education
  • A right to vote on procedures
  • A sense of satisfaction in giving back to the park
Wisconsin DNR:
Web Site: