To help area residents gain a better understanding of the impact Forestville has made in the history of the state, the Friends of Forestville has once again joined with the Minnesota Historical Society to offer a "Behind the Scenes" tour on Friday, April 11.

It will be similar to the tour in September when a bus transported area residents to St. Paul to the Minnesota Historical Society, allowing patrons a behind-the-scenes encounter with historical artifacts from southeastern Minnesota. This adventure was highlighted by an acknowledgment of the importance of raising matching funds for the Historic Forestville endowment fund.

A Heartland coach will be leaving southeastern Minnesota from Sunshine Foods in Spring Valley at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, April 11, and then loading again at Walmart South in Rochester at 8:15 a.m. The price of $30 per person covers transportation, lunch catered at the history center at "Minnesota Café," refreshments on board the coach, and the one-of-a-kind behind the scenes collection tour of the Minnesota History center archives. The coach will return to Spring Valley by 5 p.m.

The Friends of Forestville has enlisted the assistance of John Grabko and Historic Adventure and Travel Tours for this spring tour.

If you would like to join the tour call Grabko at (507) 990-6283; a registration form can be printed and mailed off of the website www.historicadventuretours.com. All proceeds after expenses will go to the Historic Forestville endowment fund.

The tour will follow the general flow of the September tour starting in collections, with Minnesota Historical Society experts leading discussions and explaining various points of interest. Lunch will be served, followed by a drive to Mississippi Street in St. Paul to tour the society's oversize object warehouse. Photo enthusiasts will be delighted at the unusual items available to view and everyone is encouraged to bring along a camera to capture a glimpse of the area's past.

Historic Forestville captures pioneer life in the late 1800s. The diligent record-keeping skills of the Meighen family and its belief in the importance of preserving the building and artifacts they contained, provides Bluff Country with a unique and inspirational venue of history within a short distance of travel tucked in the beautiful Forestville State Park. The endowment fund was created to guarantee resources well into the future.

This endowment fund was established for Historic Forestville by Twin Cities resident Richard DeLeo, who has left funds for three of his favorite historic sites in Minnesota. Historic Forestville along with the Sibley House and the Ramsay House have been given an opportunity to participate in a challenge DeLeo offered shortly before he died in 2012.

"The endowment fund works this way," explained Blake Coleman of Friends of Forestville. "For every $2 donation given, the estate of Mr. DeLeo will add $1. The donation of $10,000 made by Friends of Forestville is the first large donation which has come from Southeastern Minnesota, and I can't help but think people just are not aware of what a wonderful opportunity this endowment fund is to this historic site."

Many area residents are in agreement about the importance of maintaining the presence of Forestville's village and continuing to develop programs geared toward education as well as tourism. The endowment is one way to help.

"Growing the endowment for Historic Forestville by meeting Mr. DeLeo's challenge is an exciting project, certainly one that I hope can be met. What a beautiful gift from the Friends of Forestville, " said Karen Humphrey, Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) family and individual philanthropy specialist. "During the first year of the challenge, several of the largest gifts have come from Twin Cities residents. Now in the second year of the challenge, I invite everyone who loves and values the history of southeast Minnesota to make a gift."

This challenge got a kick-start with the recent donation made by Friends of Forestville. In February, a longtime supporter of Friends of Forestville, Ernest Meyer of Wykoff, presented a check for $10,000, which was accepted by Humphrey as a donation on behalf of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Endowment for Historic Forestville. This donation to the Historic Forestville endowment fund adds to funds which will supply an important predictable source of income for programs, educational opportunities, exhibits, and building projects for the Historic Forestville site located inside Forestville State Park.

Although the Friends of Forestville and the Minnesota Historical Society are excited to be half way to their goal of $200,000 in the endowment fund for Historic Forestville, there is a concern that the entire amount may not be raised by the Dec. 31 deadline. All gifts are ear-tagged to enhance the work and mission of the Historic Forestville site and all endowment fund money will remain with and benefit Historic Forestville.

More information on the upcoming tour being planned for April 11 or to make a donation which will directly benefit the Historic Forestville site, contact Humphrey at (651) 259-3122 or karen.humphrey@mnhs.org, or search the Friends of Forestville website at www.friendsofforestville.org.