Meet our Volunteers

Volunteers for the DNR

Fall 2019

Preserving the Common Tern – Fred Strand, Duluth area

See video, photos and read about an amazing Minnesota Nongame Wildlife volunteer, Fred Strand, working hard to help the common tern successfully nest on Interstate Island, a 5-acre island that sits squarely between Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin, in the St Louis River Estuary. Fred's story is told my Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio News, in the article On this island off Duluth, a race to save a threatened bird, June 12, 2019.

common tern

Fort Ridgely Nature Hikes – Bix Baker, Fairfax

Bix Baker, a retired science teacher, volunteers to lead nature walks once or twice per month between May and September in Fort Ridgely State Park. He leads walks through prairie and woodland, educating visitors about prairie flowers, grasses, insects and wildlife during these walks.

Bix is also an amateur photographer and takes photos of the things he sees during these walks and on his other park visits, sharing these photos with park staff and posting his observations online at These observations help park staff with the identification of plant and animal species along with their locations within the park.

Bix also designed a nature guide that highlights many of the things visitors can see as they walk the trails in the park. This nature guide is available for downloading and features many of the photographs that Bix has taken at Fort Ridgely State Park.

Finally, Bix has assisted with seed collection events at Fort Ridgely as well, spending several hours at each event hand collecting rare prairie seed. This seed is currently used to restore the old golf course to tall grass prairie.

"Bix is a tremendous asset to the park and is passionate about the habitat and wildlife it protects, " says Joanne Svendsen, Assistant Park Manager.

See photos and read more about Bix in the July 7, 2019 article, Of birds and bees…, by Gage Cureton printed in the New Ulm newspaper, The Journal.

Thank you, Bix!

Bix Baker and student

Journal staff photo by Gage Cureton
Bix Baker, a volunteer naturalist at Fort Ridgely State Park, shows Julia Bahr, 8, what horsetail grass looks like during a nature walk at the state park Saturday, July 6, 2019.

Phenology Calendar - Nina Manzi, St Paul

Nina Manzi has been updating the phenology calendar at Afton State Park every month for 20 years now. Phenology is the study of plant and animal life cycle events through the seasons. Nina presents this calendar in a fun way with pictures of animal to look for, astronomy events to watch for, and fun historical weather and nature facts throughout the year. An example of one fun fact is that mourning cloak butterflies overwinter in the park as adults and are active on mild days.

Park visitors enjoy seeing what natural events to look for each month. Come see Nina's calendar in the Afton State Park Visitor Center, 6959 Peller Ave S, Hastings, MN.

Thank you, Nina!

Nina Manzi

Bluebird Monitor - Joy Knopp, St Paul

Joy Knopp has been monitoring Afton State Parks' bluebird houses for the last 12 years. From April – September each year, she goes out once every 7-10 days during the season to check the houses. She has about 14 nesting boxes that she monitors and maintains.

Joy can identify what species of bird is building the nest by how they build it and what the nest is made from. Joy counts the number of eggs, notes the date, and records the information and nest box number on a form for the park. Then she checks for signs of damage to the house or if wasps or other parasites have taken up residence and gets rid of any that have. If some bluebird houses are too damaged, Joy has even replaced them out of her own pocket so the bluebird populations continue to climb. She buys the Gilbertson style of house.

Afton State Park could always use more bluebird monitors, so if interested in learning from the best, contact Linda Radimecky, Naturalist at 651-231-6968 or email [email protected] and she'll see if schedules can be worked out for you to be mentored by Joy. Then you'll find out why these little birds are called bluebirds of happiness!

Thank you, Joy!

bluebird on fence

Drill Log Transcription - Tom Kremer, Bemidji

Tom Kremer has been working remotely from his home in Bemidji transcribing drill logs from the Lands and Minerals Division's Historical Mineral Archives located in Hibbing. "This past year, Tom contributed nearly 116 hours to the project, which is approximately five times the number of hours typically contributed by volunteers working on this. In addition to his time dedication to the project, Tom's transcriptions are usually very accurate, making my job of checking over his work very easy, " said Andrea Reed, Mineral Resource Geologist, Hibbing.

The Drill Log Transcription Project is part of an efficiency/accessibility improvement project for DNR's Mineral Archives. Drill log holdings provide valuable information regarding the geology of Minnesota and nearly all of them are handwritten. These days, most scientists prefer to use computers to manipulate geological data (rather than drafting enormous maps by hand), which makes the handwritten logs an obstacle to efficient scientific investigation. Volunteers, like Tom, have been transcribing scans of handwritten and poorly typed drill logs to spreadsheets. The spreadsheets are then compatible with modern software as well as being universally accessible.

Thank you for all your help, Tom!

Tom Kremer

What do DNR Volunteers do?



Download the 2018 DNR Volunteer Annual Report for a listing of all the different kinds of projects volunteers do throughout the state.

Since creating a department-wide DNR Volunteer Program in 1982, citizens have engaged in more than 11 million hours of volunteer service focused on managing our state's natural resources.

How does Minnesota rank for volunteering?

  • Minnesota ranked #2 in the nation for volunteering in 2015 with 1,560,667 volunteers donating 155.41 million hours of service at a value of $3.3 billion.
  • Minneapolis-St Paul was ranked #1 in volunteering among large cities in the U.S. The Twin Cities was ranked #2 in college students and #2 in Millennials volunteering.

Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

Want to Volunteer with Us?

Current volunteer opportunities now open for this season

Sign up for updates