Volunteering opportunities

Click the following to find a volunteering opportunity in your area:

Metro area and Central MN

Northwestern MN

Northeastern MN

Southern MN






man by signPosting Boundaries on Wildlife Management Areas

(Metro and Central MN)


Hike the boundaries of wildlife management areas (WMA's) in Olmstead, Goodhue or Wabasha County in November to early December to find where sign posts or signs are missing or damaged. Help DNR field staff in replacing these so the public knows where the property lines are drawn. Help is also needed in posting signs in newly acquired boundaries in WMA's in Goodhue and Wabasha Counties.


To volunteer for this you must be able to:

  • hike over flat and uneven ground covered in thick brush and tall grass
  • use hand tools
  • carry up to 50 lbs. in equipment
  • pound posts into the ground
  • provide your own blaze orange clothing for safety


We prefer if you have experience using GPS to locate and map existing signs, but training and equipment is available. Time is flexible and will be coordinated with the assistant area wildlife manager. We prefer 1-2 days per week until frost is in the ground. Grab a buddy and walk a WMA!


For more information contact, Gretchen Miller, Assistant Wildlife Manager, Rochester, at 507-206-2862 or email Gretchen.miller@state.mn.us.




Forest Pest PatchShoreline Garbage Clean-up on Lake Pepin

(Metro and Central MN)


Walk along the shoreline of Lake Pepin to pick up trash in Frontenac State Park. Bags, gloves, pickers, and reflective safety vests will be provided.  From 1 - 10 people are needed at least one day September - October.  We'd like to have one clean-up day per month, if possible.


Clean-up will happen at Sand Point, a bay and peninsula along Lake Pepin within Frontenac State Park. This area has a tendency to collect floating debris and trash from the Mississippi River and requires regular cleaning. Sand Point is a major migratory bird flyway and refuge, so keeping it clean is vital to the birds' health.


For more information contact Nadine Meyer, Assistant Park Manager, Frontenac State Park, 29223 County 28 Blvd, Frontenac, MN 55026 at 651-345-3401 or email Nadine.meyer@state.mn.us .


Frontenac State Park is located approximately 10 miles SE of Red Wing on Highway 61 or 5 miles northwest of Lake City, then 1 mile north on County Road 2.




red foxNature Photographer

(Metro Area and Central MN)


Share your skills in nature photography by taking photos at Whitewater Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to be used in presentations, brochures, and other media to assist us in our public communication efforts.

Photos taken at Whitewater WMA may include:

  • scenic vistas
  • wildlife species
  • plant and mushroom species
  • users enjoying the WMA doing fishing, hunting, bird-watching, picking berries or mushrooms


Photos may be taken at any time of the year.


For more information contact Don Nelson, Area Wildlife Supervisor, Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, 15035 Hwy 74, Altura, MN at 507-932-4133 x226 or email Don.r.nelson@state.mn.us





buckets of seedsPrairie Care Program Seed Collection

(Metro Area and Central MN)


Walk outdoors through the hills and valleys of Wild River State Park this fall collecting seeds from forbs and grasses as part of the park's Prairie Care Program. Help restore prairie areas within the park by collecting and planting native plant seeds.


When you volunteer in the Prairie Care Program, you will:

  • Learn how to identify prairie plants and collect their seeds (training and collection equipment will be provided by the park)
  • Be shown the locations of the plant species needed
  • Provide your own transportation to and from the park as well as within for collection duties
  • Walk on sloped or uneven ground as may be necessary to reach the plants
  • Work at your own pace (no minimum time is required and individuals and groups are welcome)

For more information contact Mike Dunker, Interpretive Naturalist, Wild River State Park, 39797 Park Trail, Center City, MN at 651-583-2125 ext. 227 or email him at Michael.dunker@state.mn.us





Historical mining pictureBe a Part of Geological History!



The DNR Lands & Minerals office in Hibbing is home to several large collections of donated documents relating to past mining and geological exploration in our state. If you enjoy organizing (or sleuthing in this case!) and appreciate geology and/or Minnesota history - this volunteer position is for YOU!


Work closely with geologists to help:

  • sort
  • organize
  • catalog
  • shelve historical mining and exploration documents


We are in the midst of cataloging and sorting these documents in order to make them available online and easier for everyone to access.  Once online, these documents will allow everyone understand Minnesota geology, mining, and exploration history - all of which is important academically, environmentally, and economically.  We need your help to expedite this enormous task!


Volunteer for 2-3 hours per week minimum, anytime between 8 am - 4 pm, Monday-Friday, at the DNR Lands and Minerals Office, 1525 3rd Avenue East, Hibbing, MN 55746.  This project does not have a specific end date.


Experience with Microsoft Excel and Word is desired, but not required.  Training will be provided.


For more information, contact Andrea Reed, Mineral Resource Geologist, NE Region, Hibbing, at 218-231-8460 or email andrea.d.reed@state.mn.us





woman looking at artifactsOrganize Historical Artifacts - Norris Camp



Work with the MN Historical Society following their protocols to inventory, label, and arrange historical artifacts at Norris Camp for display or safe storage.  Norris Camp, headquarters of the Red Lake Wildlife Management Area located near Roosevelt, is an historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 


We prefer you have some education or experience working with cultural resources, but training may be coordinated with the MN and/or Lake of the Woods Historical Society.  You must be able to use Excel computer software spreadsheets.


Organizing the artifacts, as well as cleaning the storage and display areas, will take at least 40 hours.  Days and hours are flexible. 


Housing is available at the Norris Camp bunkhouse if you wish to stay onsite. Up to 3 volunteers are needed for this project and reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses may be negotiated depending on your qualifications and how much training would be required.


For more information, contact Gretchen Mehmel, Wildlife Area Manager, Red Lake WMA, Roosevelt, MN at (218) 783-6861 or email Gretchen.mehmel@state.mn.us





kids on bikesVolunteer as a State Trail Monitor

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)


Help keep Minnesota's State Trails beautiful by volunteering as a State Trail Monitor! Not only will you be able to spend time outside on the scenic state trails, but you will also be making a difference!


Learn more about volunteering with Minnesota's State Trails!





making cookiesMake 100 Tree Cookies

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)


Help classroom teachers across Minnesota teach children how trees and other woody plants grow, factors that affect tree growth, tree identification, and more.  You can volunteer to create "tree cookies" which are slices of branches or trunks that show the rings of a tree.  100 cookies are enough for about three classes of students, so the more you can make, the better.  They will be used!


How to Make Tree Cookies:

  • Slice the branches or trunk into half-inch thick, wafer-shaped "cookies" that are between three to six inches in diameter.
  • "Interesting" cookies with easily readable rings are preferred (these show a history of disease, disturbance, or other story.)
  • Dry the cookies correctly.  Do not skip this step or your cookies will rot.  See detailed instructions.
  • Sand the surfaces until the rings appear.
  • Finish the surfaces with clear varnish.
  • Optional - Label the cookie with the tree species and location cut.
  • Don't use wood from ash trees.


Detailed instructions found in Tree Cookies - How to Make Your Own This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.


This project can be done individually or with a group (scouts, 4-H, FFA, Kiwanis, etc.) You must provide your own tree or woody plant material, saws, sander, oven, varnish, and labor.


When finished contact Laura Duffey, Project Learning Tree Coordinator, at 651-259-5263 or email laura.duffey@state.mn.us to arrange for delivery to a school site and to get Minnesota DNR recognition.


Project Learning Tree (PLT) program is a natural resources education program for teachers across Minnesota. Teachers often don't have the time or capability to make these cookies so your help is greatly appreciated.




sna brush burningGet Physical on a State Natural Area

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)


As part of a typical volunteer workday on a MN Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) you will:  

  • collect prairie and woodland seeds
  • plant seedlings
  • pull buckthorn or other invasive species of plants
  • cut and burn brush such as sumac


Projects are typically carried out on Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, unless otherwise noted, on many weekends throughout the year.


 SNAs are the premier state lands displaying examples of native prairies, old growth forests, geological features and habitat for rare and endangered species. 


Volunteer activities and other events are posted on the SNA Program Events Calendar




minnesota master naturalist logoBe a Master Naturalist

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)


If you enjoy learning about nature, hiking, birdwatching, or identifying wildflowers, you'll love being a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer!


Take trainings and learn about Minnesota's biomes (plant and animal communities) including:

  • hardwoods and rivers
  • north woods and Great Lakes
  • prairies


To learn more visit www.MinnesotaMasterNaturalist.org .


The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a joint effort of the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.




volunteersAdopt-a-River Program

(NE, NW, Southern, Metro area and Central MN)


"Adopt" a section of a lake, river, wetland, ditch or ravine by doing an annual clean-up.  Get involved!







lake level mnLake Level Minnesota volunteering… doing your level best!

(NE, NW, Southern, Metro area and Central MN)


Whether it is floods, droughts, or just a normal year, lake level fluctuations (or the lack of them) are important to document. Be a volunteer observer and record lake levels on a regular basis.


Find out more about the Lake Level Minnesota program  and Check lake levels with the LakeFinder 




loonVolunteer LoonWatcher Survey

(NE, NW, Southern, Metro area and Central MN)


If you live on a lake or regularly visit a lake, and you have an interest in loons, you can be a volunteer "loon watcher" in the Minnesota Volunteer LoonWatcher Survey.  


As a Loon Watcher you will record:

  • the number of loons you see
  • nesting success observed in eggs and young birds
  • interesting occurrences and
  • problems that may harm the loons.


For more information about the Minnesota Volunteer LoonWatcher Survey contact Kevin Woizeschke at Kevin.Woizeschke@state.mn.us or 218-833-8729.





zebra musselsZebra Mussel Monitoring Program

(NE, NW, Southern, Metro area and Central MN)


Zebra mussels are spreading to lakes and rivers in the Midwest.


These small invasive mussels attach to hard surfaces in lakes and rivers doing major damage such as:

  • killing native mussels
  • limiting recreational activities
  • clogging water supply pipes
  • competing with larval fish for food


Spend a few minutes checking the docks,  swimming platforms, boats, motors, anchors, and any hard objects that have been in the lake or river where you live.  Early detection for zebra mussels is important in protecting your property and Minnesota's water resources.


Learn more on how you can monitor for zebra mussels.





firearms safety classVolunteer Safety Instructors

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)


Consider becoming a Certified Volunteer Safety Instructor in Firearms, Bowhunter Education, Snowmobile, ATV, or Wildlife Species!


Pass on a love for your sport by teaching youth and adults the ethics and safety you would expect from those you meet in the field.


During the instructor training, applicants will learn about:

  • policy and procedures
  • teaching concepts
  • use of training aids
  • youth classroom training techniques


Check current certified volunteer instructor classes or sign up for our instructor e-mail list to receive notification of any additional instructor training sessions.


All new instructor applicants and instructors seeking recertification must meet the requirements of being at least 18 years old and passing a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) background check. All applicants for any of the DNR safety programs must also complete the forms online and attend a volunteer instructor training course. There is no fee to attend.


If you are interested in becoming a DNR Certified Volunteer Safety Instructor, the process begins online:  Get started now!  And check out upcoming safety instructor courses.





campground hostsCampground Host This Spring/Summer at a MN State Park

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)


If you enjoy the great outdoors, scenic vistas, and the company of other campers, then consider volunteering to be a "live in" host for at least 4 weeks (one month) during the period of April to October at a Minnesota State Park operated campground.


A host's primary responsibility is to assist campers by:

  • answering questions
  • explaining campground
  • performing light maintenance work around the campground
  • picking up litter
  • sweeping and stocking supplies in toilet buildings
  • making emergency minor repairs when possible.


Hosts may be requested to assist in the naturalist program by posting and distributing schedules, publicizing programs or helping with programs. Volunteers will set an example by being model campers, practicing good housekeeping at all times in and around the host site, and by observing all rules.


Check the list of Minnesota State Parks looking for Campground Hosts for 2015.


Campground Host volunteers generally work independently. Volunteers are accountable to the park manager who will provide training and orientation for hosts and assist hosts throughout the season with any question or problems that may arise. Length of period, workdays and hours are established with the campground manager, but will generally include all weekends and holidays.  Avid campers or RV'ers are encouraged to apply!


Read more about the Campground Host Program.  Email your questions to campground.host@state.mn.us  or call 888- MINNDNR (888-646-6367) or in the Metro area call 651-259-5607.


Campground Hosts will be selected from applications that have been satisfactorily completed and submitted in a timely manner.  Interviews will be conducted by the campground manager.  The number of consecutive years that a host may serve may be limited to allow others an opportunity. These limitations are at the discretion of the campground manager. All DNR volunteers must undergo a background check.  This is done at the time of selection.  This also applies to hosts returning from the previous season.