Meet our Volunteers

Volunteers for the DNR

Summer 2020

Betty Wilkens, Mora - Little Knife AMA Savanna Restoration Project

Burned and seeded in the spring of 2018, Betty Wilkens has since monitored and selectively mowed the Little Knife Aquatic Management Area (AMA) as needed to keep competitive non-native plants from going to seed.  She volunteers her time to maintain this nine-acre savanna restoration site.  Betty and her son also have land on either side of the AMA in conservation easements, of which they are actively managing and restoring to native habitat as well.   “All of Betty’s work has been extremely valuable to the success of our efforts,” says Sarah Pennington, AMA Habitat Specialist, Fish and Wildlife Division, Brainerd.

To see the gravel pit part of this 35-acre restoration project, see the Natural Resources Conservation Service video, Gravel Pit Restoration with Betty Wilkens
Thank you, Betty!

betty and doe

This young doe adopted Betty for a day while planting young white oak on a 4-acre section of newly-planted short grass prairie mix. Her grandson named her Goldie. The doe followed Betty everywhere. The next day she was gone.

Greg and Lori Meller, Riverton and Joel Hartman, Crosby - Trail Maintenance and Winter Grooming

Greg and Lori Meller took on the responsibility of leading all of the trail maintenance sessions this past summer at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (CCSRA) located northeast of Brainerd in Ironton. They also headed up many side projects that come up throughout the year like storm cleanup and vegetation control. Their leadership was instrumental in providing a positive and fun atmosphere for new and seasoned trail volunteers to work in.  “They have a keen eye for detail and they pride themselves in doing a job right while keeping the workload fun and upbeat. Greg and Lori have been a true asset to the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew and the DNR,” says Nicholis Statz, Natural Resource Technician, Parks and Trails Division, Trail Maintenance.

Greg and Lori


Another outstanding volunteer at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is Joel Hartman.  He has been a true leader when it comes to grooming the single-track trails in the winter months. This job is physically demanding and Joel has committed a great deal of his time towards this program and its successes. Without Joel the CCSRA winter program would not be what it is today.

Thank you, Greg, Lori and Joel for making a difference on over 30 miles of trail at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area!



What do DNR Volunteers do?

Download the 2019 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 11.9 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

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