Meet our Volunteers

Volunteers for the DNR

Spring 2020

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Tract - Craig Koester & Dave Kuhnau

Craig Koester and Dave Kuhnau participate as partners in review and planning meetings and help determine the division of labor regarding ongoing vegetation management of the 460 acre  Koester Prairie Tract, Prairie Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located 1.5 miles southwest of Dennison, Minnesota.  They are a vital part of the plans for invasive terrestrial plant management and native grassland establishment in the tract.

Craig and Dave volunteer to:

  • Selectively hand daube/spray, hand pull, and clip-and-remove seed heads with viable seed of wild parsnip, Queen Anne's Lace, garlic mustard, and yellow rocket
  • Collect viable seed of several forbs and grasses from prairie remnant plants for reseeding in grassland establishment/conversion projects
  • Install and maintain native crabapple seedlings first collected as seed from natural-occurring trees on the Koester Prairie Tract and grown in a volunteer-operated, home-based nursery
  • Brush-cut and stump treat common buckthorn with selective herbicide

Rick Erpelding, Assistant Area Wildlife Manager, Division of Fish and Wildlife, says, “These volunteers are especially integral strands of the fabric of past, current, and ongoing vegetation management of the site. They have even successfully written and been awarded grants as vegetation management contractors to work with DNR personnel. They have genuine 'ownership' in the outcomes of these vegetation projects.”

Thank you, Craig and Dave, for sharing your time and skills with us!

dave in field

Dave Kuhnau holding a parsnip predator tool in hand ready to extract the taproot of invasive plants like Queen Anne’s Lace on the Prairie Creek WMA.

Craig and Dave on rock

L to R: Dave Kuhnau and Craig Koester

Water Conservation Webpage Development - Adam Rogowski

As a senior at Macalester College in the spring of 2019, Adam Rogowski created content for the new and improved statewide Water Conservation webpages for the Minnesota DNR.  These pages include a comprehensive review of strategies for multiple audiences including residential, commercial, agricultural and water conservation education.

“Adam was a dependable, hardworking volunteer intern. He took initiative and worked independently very well. He was a fast, prolific and well-organized writer and a thorough researcher,” according to Carmelita Nelson, Water Conservation Consultant, Division of Ecological and Water Resources, St. Paul.

Thank you, Adam, for your creativeness and for persevering in your internship this past year in spite of snowstorms, building constructions, and a variety of disruptions!


Centennial Anniversary Special Events - Kevin Sullivan and the Friends of Whitewater State Park

Kevin Sullivan serves as the Treasurer of the Friends of Whitewater State Park and has been very busy this past year overseeing the financials for the organization including grants, donations and expenses for the Centennial Anniversary special events held at the park.

Each month in 2019, a special Centennial event was held.  The Friends Group raised $35,000 to support these events and helped to coordinate the supplies and materials to make this yearlong celebration a success.  Some very large events were offered this year because of the help of Kevin and the Friends of Whitewater. 

  • In July, the Centennial Picnic and Great Big Sing Along with the Okee Dokee Brothers brought in more than 1200 visitors and introduced hundreds of new families to the park. 
  • In August, a local playwright directed four live performances during Theater in the Park.  Many locals were emotionally touched by the play, which was written using oral history stories gathered by park staff.  The Theater in the Park events cost $15,000 to coordinate and demonstrated the park can successfully implement large-scale projects with the help of local community members and our wonderful volunteer base. 

“Kevin has been key to the success of these Centennial events, working closely with the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota to make sure funds for these events are properly distributed and managed. No doubt, he has been stressed and busy this past year, yet he has done a wonderful job supporting the park efforts to recognize 100 Years of Whitewater State Park!” said Sara Holger, Interpretive Naturalist, Whitewater State Park.


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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