Meet our Volunteers

Volunteers for the DNR

Winter 2019

Ski Trail Grooming - Shawn Olsen

Hayes Lake State Park is no longer able to groom its own ski trails.  While there is still a track setter on site, there is no equipment to pull it with.  The same is true of nearby Lake Bronson and Zippel Bay State Parks, leaving Lake Bemidji State Park (two hours away) as the only State Park with groomed ski trails this far northwest in the State.

Last year, the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota generously backed the insurance costs for the local Friends Groups of each park to conduct grooming activities.  The Friends Groups supply the towing equipment and use the park track setters.

At Hayes Lake State Park, Shawn Olsen is the grooming volunteer.  He knows the park intimately having worked there for many years in the past.

“Without Shawn, the Friends of Hayes Lake group, and the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, we wouldn't be able to provide our visitors with a groomed skiing opportunity,” said Jack Pellinen, Park Manager, Hayes Lake State Park.

Thank you, Shawn, for being a DNR alumnus willing to volunteer your expertise to help others enjoy the park!  And to the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota for your support!


Monarch Festival - Tom Uecher

For the past 3-4 years, Tom Uecher has been volunteering to bring his traveling Monarch program to state parks in the Northeast region of Minnesota.  Tom has many educational materials on pollinators that he puts on display including Monarch butterflies in various stages of development.  Tom is a former teacher so he’s able to work well with the youth and adults that come to his display.

According to James Pointer, Interpretive Supervisor, Lake Vermilion - Soudan Underground Mine State Park, “I enjoy having Tom at our park each year as I know the visitors will leave with more knowledge and firsthand experience with Monarch butterflies.  He’s all about educating the public about Monarchs and does it in a way that is fun and educational.”

Thank you, Tom, for reaching hundreds of people each year at state parks with your message about the importance of pollinators.


Mountain Bike Trail Maintenance - Randy Stanfield

Randy Stanfield has assisted in several ways to help maintain approximately 40 miles of mountain bike trails in the Cuyuna Country State Recreational Area in north central Minnesota including involvement in the I Can Mountain Bike! Program.

“Randy is one of those guys that sees something that needs attention and gets it done. He’s not afraid to tackle the jobs no one else wants to do. His strong work ethic and communication skills has made him stand out from the rest,” says Nicholis Statz, DNR Mountain Bike Trail Technician.

Thank you, Randy, for all of your help!  Find out more about the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System online!

biking along a path

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

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