Meet our Volunteers

Volunteer carrying an arm full of branches

The Adopt-A-WMA Program was established to encourage sporting, outdoor, business, and civic groups or individuals to assist, on a volunteer basis, in improving and maintaining Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Minnesota.

DNR volunteers build and donate field desks for students across Minnesota

Longtime DNR volunteers, the Pagelkopfs, build and donate field desks for students across Minnesota for use in School Forests.

Kelly Turgeon: Adopt-a-WMA Volunteer

Kelly Turgeon is president of the North Red River Chapter of Minnesota Deer Hunter's Association (MDHA) and leads roughly 225 members. When the opportunity came for North Red River MDHA to become involved in Adopt-a-WMA (wildlife management area), they saw the opportunity to help foster improved access and wildlife habitat projects for the benefit of wildlife and for those who recreate on public lands.

Partnering with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) State Habitat Committee, Kelly applied for Conservation Partners Legacy grants to complete habitat projects on wildlife management areas (WMAs). His chapter has done brush mowing for winter browse, created forest openings for forage plots, and conducted invasive buckthorn treatments. They have also used these funds to help DNR hire crews to complete prescribed fire and invasive plant control. Kelly's involvement has been crucial in getting these projects implemented. Also, as part of the Adopt-a-WMA program, Kelly organizes his chapter members to help plant wildlife forage plots on WMA lands.

“Kelly has also been instrumental in reclaiming hunter access to the WMAs. He organizes members to mow and maintain hunter walking trails on our WMAs. Without him and his members, this work would not get done,” said Jason Wollin, Wildlife Specialist, Karlstad.

“Together we have made improvements in wildlife habitat and provided improved access opportunities on state lands,” said Kelly. “Some may ask, why? That's easy. We are passing it on to others who have yet to experience the great outdoors. It is our hope other organizations and individuals consider serving in partnership with DNR to continue the mission of preserving Minnesota WMAs and state lands for future generations' outdoor experiences.”

Thank you, Kelly, and the North Red River Chapter of MDHA for being a vital part of the Adopt-a-WMA Program!

Adopt-A-WMA volunteer Kelly Turgeon

Sharon Natzel - Loon Friendly Lake Registry

Sharon Natzel is an exemplary DNR nongame wildlife volunteer. As president of the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations, Sharon contacted many lake associations in Hubbard County, as well as the presidents of other county coalitions, to recruit them to join the Loon-Friendly Lake Registry Program as part of the Minnesota Loon Restoration Program. Partnering with federal agencies, the restoration program aims to restore common loons in Minnesota after an oil spill in 2010 injured many kinds of wildlife, including migratory birds.

“The Loon-Friendly Lake Registry promotes stewardship of lakes with loons by engaging community members to help acquire lakeshore loon habitat and augment natural nesting with artificial nesting platforms in targeted locations,” said Rob Rabasco, Natural Resource Program Coordinator, Minnesota Loon Restoration Program. “This voluntary program allows communities to make an individual lake Loon-Friendly.”

Thank you, Sharon, for your tireless recruitment of this program!

A loon with it's baby on it's back

Dark Sky Festival Volunteers

Volunteers from Winona State University, the Minnesota Astronomical Society and Starry Skies North joined forces this past year at the Dark Sky Festival held at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. This special event introduces the importance of the dark sky and educates the public about light pollution. Darkness plays a critical role in the proper functioning of our ecosystems and allows us to experience the beauty of the night sky. Volunteers brought telescopes for visitors to see celestial objects, provided dark sky programs, water bottle rocket launching for kids, and solar scopes. The Third Annual Dark Sky Festival will be held on August 11-12, 2023, this year
Thank you, volunteers, for sharing your expertise and helping us reconnect with the cosmos!

Night sky with northern lights

What do DNR Volunteers do?

Download the 2022 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 1988, Minnesotans have engaged in more than 12.5 million hours of volunteer service adding $238 million in value focused on managing our state's natural resources.


How does Minnesota rank for volunteering?

  • In 2021, Minnesota ranked #3, with more than 1.5 million residents volunteering through an organization contributing $3.5 billion in economic value.

Source: Corporation for National and Community Service


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