Meet our Volunteers

Volunteers for the DNR

Spring 2018

Mapping Native Plant Communities with the Minnesota Biological Survey – Evan Host

The Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) has been surveying and mapping the state for nearly 30 years in an effort to improve our understanding of the distribution and status of native species and native plant communities. Evan Host has volunteered for the MBS since May of 2017; Evan was hired as a student worker in late November of 2017 and continues his mapping as he completes his studies at the University of St Thomas.

Evan Host

Figure 1: Evan surveying at Iron Springs Bog SNA, Aug 2017

trees blown down

Figure 2: Forest blowdown at Savanna Portage State Park, Aug 2017

Evan says,"As a volunteer with the Minnesota Biological Survey, I got a lot of experience using ArcGIS to delineate and classify Native Plant Communities (NPCs) in North-Central Minnesota. I was also fortunate enough to spend 4 days in the field (getting rained on) ground-truthing some of my classifications in Crow Wing and Clearwater Counties.  I also joined Parks and Trails resource specialists in the field for a discussion considering a potential ecological monitoring project at Savanna Portage State Park in Aitkin County after a severe blowdown event. Volunteering for the DNR led to an awesome opportunity to expand my career skills in real-life science as well as enhancing my academic abilities as a student at the University of St. Thomas."

Thank you for your help, Evan!


Lake Ice In/Out Data – Jeff Peters

Jeff Peters

According to Peter Boulay, in the Minnesota State Climatology Office, "Jeff Peters is an energetic, positive volunteer who just happens to love the weather and winter as well. He is able to focus on a specific task and has been a huge help in organizing our data. One of his tasks was to organize the 2017 lake ice in data and hundreds of ice out reports into a report that was used on our Lake Ice In web page. He also transcribed an old farmer's diary for weather information."

Check out some of Jeff's handiwork on the 2017 Lake Ice In Dates webpage .

Thank you for your help, Jeff!


Campground Access Trail Construction - Donald Clark and Maynard Lagace

Don and Maynard have spent countless hours the last three years heading up a crew of volunteers working on a new trail to the backpack campsites in Afton State Park near Hastings. 

Gene Groebner, Park Manager, says, “This new trail will eliminate a major erosion problem with the existing route, make for much easier access up a steep slope for campers, and is being built to ADA standards as much as possible.  All of the cutting, filling, leveling, material hauling and fitting of wood timber structures is being done by hand.  Frequent adjustments are made to minimize the impact to the resource and follow sustainable best practices.  Don has recruited multiple volunteer groups to assist, and Maynard has been his right hand man for coordinating and supervising.”
Thank you, Don and Maynard!

Don and Maynard

Trail Trolls
Donald Clark and Maynard Lagace, the two key volunteers who have devoted much of their last three years to the campground trail project at Afton State Park, peek out from under the walkway that was built over a sensitive area.


Garlic Mustard Man – Joe Gartner

Joe Gartner

Last spring, Joe Gartner spent over 85 hours searching, reporting, and removing garlic mustard from public lands administrated by the DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails.  He led public group pulls of garlic mustard which eliminated large populations of the invasive species and educated land owners adjacent to state park and trail lands of his efforts and what they should be on the lookout for.

"Joe also recommended areas for boot brush installation to help prevent the spread of seeds outside of the infested areas.  Joe has been instrumental in reducing the spread of garlic mustard into high quality habitats in and near Flandrau State Park," said Alexander Watson, Regional Naturalist, New Ulm.

Thank you, Garlic Mustard Man!

What do DNR Volunteers do?


Download the 2017 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

Minnesotans show a passion for volunteering - Fox 9 News, 6/28/17

Want to Volunteer with Us?

Current volunteer opportunities now open for this season

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