Volunteering opportunities

Volunteers for the DNR

Find a volunteering opportunity in your area:


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What do DNR Volunteers do?

Click on the video above to find out!

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 1988, citizens have engaged in more than 11.3 million hours of volunteer service focused on managing our state's natural resources.


Metro area and Central MN
Northwestern MN
Northeastern MN
Southern MN


METRO AREA AND CENTRAL MINNESOTA - Winter 2018 - 19

NORTHWESTERN MINNESOTA - Winter 2018 - 19

NORTHEASTERN MINNESOTA - Winter 2018 - 19

SOUTHERN MINNESOTA - Winter 2018 - 19


family walking on candlelit path

New Year’s Eve Candlelight Walk Event – Fort Snelling State Park

(Metro and Central MN)

It’s happening! Grab your family and friends, pack your hat and mittens, and throw on your long-johns for a fun family-friendly New Year’s celebration in the park. Volunteer to light miles of trails, hand out hundreds of cups of hot drinks, watch several bonfires, and assist thousands of park visitors celebrating the end of 2018 and ringing in 2019 at Fort Snelling State Park!

Up to 50 volunteers are needed to assist with this event. Children 15 and younger may volunteer with an adult chaperone. Customer service experience is preferred, but not necessary.  Volunteer for as little as 2 hours or more! So mark your calendars and consider volunteering some time before, during, or after the event.

Volunteer opportunities:

Monday, December 31
(10 am- 12 pm)

  • Luminary set out:  Walk the event trails and set out the luminaries. Dress for the weather! (20 volunteers)

(2 pm- 4 pm)

  • Luminary lighting: Join us before the event starts to light 700+ candles and create a magical experience for hundreds of park visitors on the last night of 2018. (10 volunteers)

Monday, December 31 (4-8 pm)

  • S’mores bonfire attendant near the Visitor Center. An outside assignment, monitors s’mores supplies and keeps the bonfire roaring! (6 volunteers in two hour shifts)
  • Hot beverage server. An inside assignment dispensing hot cocoa, cider and coffee. (8 volunteers in 2 hour shifts)
  • Luminary re-lighting. Hike the beautiful candlelit trails and re-light and/or replace any candles that have gone out. (6 volunteers)

New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2019! – 1 – 3 pm

  • Be the first to hike the trails in the New Year! Help us collect luminaries and candles. Dress for the weather and bring a sled to help collect supplies. (10 volunteers)

To Sign Up:

For more information contact Krista Jensen, Lead Naturalist, Fort Snelling State Park, 101 Snelling Lake Road, St. Paul at 612-725-2731 or email [email protected]

Fort Snelling State Park is located on Post Road off State Highway 5, just west of the main terminal exit for the International Airport.

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skiing by candlelight

Frontenac Candlelight Ski/Snowshoe/Hike Event – January 19, 2019

(Southern MN)

Enjoy a beautiful evening outdoors as you help light up the trails at Frontenac State Park! Hike, ski, or snowshoe on 2 different lit trails - 0.4 mile and 1 mile loops will be lined with ice luminaries for this event on Saturday, January 19 from 5:30 – 8:00 PM.

Volunteer to:

  • Make/freeze ice luminaries (candles in ice)
  • Haul and display the luminaries at the correct locations along the ski trails
  • Light them the night of the event.

Training will be provided.

For more information on volunteering for this event, contact Brian Nordby, Assistant Manager, Frontenac State Park, 29223 County 28 Blvd. Frontenac, MN 55026 at 651-345-3401 ext. 223 or email [email protected]

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bundled up kids in a sled at night

"Lake that Speaks" Luminary Hike – Jan 26, 2019

(Southern MN)

Join friends and neighbors while volunteering at Lac qui Parle State Park for a fun moonlit evening of hiking on a mile of packed luminary lit path! Enjoy refreshments (s'mores and hot chocolate), fun music, and a fire in the fireplace at the historic warming shelter during the event.

Up to 10 volunteers can help with the following:
Early January (TBD during the two weeks before the event and is weather dependent)

  • Help freeze ice luminaries

Saturday, January 26 – 6:30 – 8:30 PM

  • Light and set candles
  • Staff the warming shelter
  • Provide music for the event in the shelter – have any musical friends?
  • Photograph the event – capture all of the volunteers in action!
  • Pick up the candles at the end of the evening 

Volunteers must be able to walk on packed snow, bend over, and handle a portable torch.  The event will be held regardless of the weather so dress warmly! Bring a flashlight in case of wind or rain extinguishing the candles.

For more information on getting involved, contact Terri Dinesen, Park Manager, Lac qui Parle State Park, 14047 20th Street NW, Watson at 320-734-4450, Ext 229 or email [email protected]

Directions for parking for the event at Lac qui Parle State Park:

From Watson, travel about a mile NW on State Hwy 7/59, turn left on Chippewa County Rd 13, travel 2.5 miles dropping into the valley, crossing over the Lac qui Parle dam where the road changes to Lac qui Parle County Rd 33, and continuing West cross over the bridge on the Lac qui Parle River staying on C.R. 33 for another half mile, turn right at the Lac qui Parle State Park’s lower entrance. Follow signs to park. Vehicle permits are required. Volunteers will receive courtesy passes for the day. Call the park for more information: 320-734-4450 ext. 222 or 229.

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skiing past a candle

Candlelight Event at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park – February 2, 2019

(Metro and Central MN, Southern MN)

Join us in creating a magical night of cross country skiing or snowshoeing (or walking, if there is no snow) on trails lit by the warm glow of luminaries!  Listen for the barred owl at dusk and other winter night sounds. Hot beverages will warm your fingers and toes when you return to the Visitor Center!
Help is needed on Saturday, February 2, 2098, between the hours of 4:30 - 9:30 PM.  Up to 15 volunteers are needed for this event.  This would be a great group activity!  The event itself runs from 5:30 – 8:30 PM. Snowshoes are available to rent. 

Volunteer roles include:

  • make ice molds for the luminaries, set them out and light the candles along 2 miles of flat trail and shorter loops from 4:30 – 5:30 PM
  • direct cars where to park from 5:00 – 7:00 PM
  • act as crossing guards for County Road 27 (2 locations) from 5:30 – 8:30 PM
  • maintain lighted candles on the trail between 5:30 – 8:30 PM
  • tend to the bonfire from 5:00 – 8:00 PM
  • hand out snacks and beverages in the Visitor Center from 5:30 – 8:30 PM
  • clean up and pick up candles at the end of the evening from 8:30 – 9:30 PM

Volunteers need to be comfortable in dark, forested situations and physically able to work 1.5 – 3 hour shifts outside in the cold weather.

For more information, contact Katie Foshay, Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, 9700 - 170 Street East, Nerstrand, MN 55053 at 507 384-6141 or email [email protected]

Directions to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park: 

Take I-35 to State Highway 19 east into Northfield. Go south on State Highway 3, east on State Highway 246, then turn right onto County Road 29 and follow the signs.

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candles lighting up bridge

Split Rock Lighthouse Candlelight Snowshoe & Hike Event - February 2, 2019

(Northeastern MN)

Enjoy the beautiful winter scenery at the annual candlelight snowshoe and hike event at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Two Harbors on Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 6:00 – 8:30 PM. Experience the park in a unique outdoors setting that is not usually available on trails at night!

Join in the fun and contact us to sign up for one of these exciting volunteer opportunities:

Candle Engineer:

  • Set out and light luminaries (these are candles placed in cups or bags along the 2 miles of trail). Meet at the Trail Center at 4 PM for instructions and supplies. Set up last about two hours.
  • Several teams of engineers are needed to complete this task.
  • Headlamps are essential if you sign up for the pick-up activity from 8:30 – 9:30 PM

Fire Tender (adults only): 

  • Armed with extra candles and lighters, you keep the luminaries glowing along the trails throughout the event. Bring a backpack to carry supplies and a headlamp.
  • Additional volunteers are needed to tend warming campfires.
  • Clean up lasts about an hour.

All volunteers must be physically able to travel over challenging terrain and comfortable working in cold conditions. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Bring snowshoes, winter boots, and a backpack or sled if helping set up or take down the trails. Don’t forget your headlamp! 

Volunteer for the entire evening or for a minimum time commitment of 2 hours. Please request your preferred task and time between 4:00 – 9:30 PM.  Training will be provided. 

This would be a great group activity as upwards of 10 - 15 volunteers are needed!  Volunteer abilities will be matched and older children are welcome to team up with their friends and a parent. Help us make it a magical event!

Note: This event may be canceled or changed due to poor weather or wind conditions on the day of the event. For updates, including event details, weather updates and directions to the park, call 218-595-7625 or check the visitor alert online at www.mndnr.gov/splitrocklighthouse.

For more information and to sign up, contact Luann Udenberg, Operations Supervisor, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors MN 55616 at 218-595-7621 or email [email protected]

Directions: Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is located 20 miles northeast of Two Harbors on Minnesota Highway 61.

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candle in an ice jar

Candlelight Ski, Snowshoe, Hiking Event - Gooseberry Falls State Park, February 16, 2019

(Northeastern MN)

Help create an amazing winter memory at Gooseberry Falls State Park’s Annual Candlelight Event, Saturday February 16, 2019 near Two Harbors.  Candlelight guides you on several miles of ski, snowshoe and hiking trails. A bonfire and hot beverages awaits for you afterwards.

Bring something to share at the Volunteer Potluck (after setup), then go with your family or friends to enjoy the trails or sit by the fire in the Visitor Center!

All volunteers must be physically able to travel over challenging terrain and comfortable working in cold conditions for a period of time. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Bring skis or snowshoes as well as a backpack or sled to carry supplies. Headlamps are also essential! The event may be cancelled for cold or icy conditions.

Volunteer for the entire evening or for a minimum time commitment of 2 hours. Please request your preferred task/time.  Training will be provided. 

This would be a great group activity as upwards of 30-40 volunteers are needed for this event!  The more, the merrier!!!  Help us make this event amazing!

Join in the fun and contact us to sign up for one of these exciting volunteer opportunities:

SETUP 3:30 – 5:30 PM (arrive at Visitor Center for instructions)

Candle Engineer:

  • Set out and light luminaries (these are candles placed in cups or bags along the trail).
  • You need the ability to travel over a variety of terrain in skis, snowshoes or winter boots and be comfortable working in winter conditions for a period of time.
  • Volunteer abilities will be matched and split up into teams to cover all trails.
  • Children are welcome to help (families will work together).

Luminary Designer:

  • Create several unique luminary (candlelight) displays to surprise and delight event participants.
  • You will need to travel by skis or snowshoes to the designated locations.
  • You must be comfortable working in winter conditions.
  • Sign up is required for this SPECIAL volunteer experience.
  • Each team must include one adult volunteer.

MAINTENANCE 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Fire Tender (adults only): 

  • Armed with extra candles and lighters, you keep the luminaries glowing along the trails throughout the event.
  • Bring a backpack to carry supplies and a headlamp.
  • Majority of the trails will require skis or snowshoes to assist.
  • Additional adult volunteers are needed to tend the bonfire.

TAKEDOWN 8:00 – 9:30 PM (meet at the Visitor Center at 8 pm for instructions)

Cleanup Maverick:  8:00 – 9:30 PM (Arrive early for the potluck if you want to help with only this part of the evening.)

  • Work in teams to extinguish and remove trail and display luminaries after the event.
  • Work in teams to assist with clean up either on the trails or at the bonfire.
  • Majority of the trails will require skis or snowshoes to assist.
  • Headlamps are essential for this activity.

This event may be canceled or changed due to cold weather or icy trail conditions on the day of the event.

For more information and to sign up, contact Nick Hoffmann, Assistant Manager, Gooseberry Falls State Park, 3206 Hwy 61 Two Harbors MN 55616 at 218-595-7107 or email [email protected]

Directions:  From the town of Two Harbors, follow State Highway 61 northeast approximately 13 miles to the park.

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raccoon

Amphibian/Reptile/Small Animal Database Assistance

(Metro and Central MN)

Volunteers interested in small animals (especially amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals) are needed to assist with data entry, file scanning, specimen preparation, and various other projects involving the Minnesota Biological Survey.

The Minnesota Biological Survey collects, interprets, and provides information on rare plants and animals found in nearly every county in Minnesota. This helps agencies and organizations make informed decisions on land use issues.

Volunteers need the following qualifications:

  • Familiar with Microsoft Excel
  • Attention to detail
  • Good manual dexterity

Experience with the following is desirable, but not required:

  • GIS programs such as ArcMap and/or Landview
  • Google Earth and/or Google Maps
  • Knowledge about amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals

Help is needed for a few hours primarily on Mondays and Tuesdays. Hours can be somewhat flexible depending upon your availability. All work must be done in the DNR Central Office at 500 Lafayette Rd. N, St Paul.

For more information, contact Jeff LeClere, MBS Animal Survey Specialist, St Paul at [email protected]

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wolf tracks in snow

SNA Nature Photographers

(NE MN and Statewide)

Love taking photos and wish you could devote more time to it? We'll give you the chance!  Volunteer to take a collection of winter photos of Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) located primarily in the northeastern region of Minnesota to increase awareness and appreciation for the natural diversity found there.

Winter photography of SNAs includes:

  • Capturing images of people enjoying the SNAs (snowshoeing, skiing, attending an event, etc.).
  • Photos of native plant communities, native plants, native wildlife or signs of wildlife. 
  • Photos from multiple locations, panoramic or landscape shots of the entire SNA, and macro photography of snow on the natural features.
  • Uploading photos to the SNA Flickr group.
  • Documenting each photo by title, tags, and content following Flickr guidelines.

Whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer skilled in nature photography, we invite you to share your skills with us.

SNA locations to take photos:

  • Hovland Woods
  • Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods
  • Myhr Creek Ridge
  • Sugarloaf Cove
  • Butterwort Cliffs
  • Iona’s Beach
  • Black Lake Bog
  • McGregor Marsh
  • West and East Rat Root River Peatlands
  • Any other SNA’s in the northeastern region or state would be welcome!

For more information on being an SNA nature photographer, contact either Bryonna Persing in Eveleth at 218-735-3962, email [email protected]  OR Kelly Randall in St Paul at 651-259-5070, email [email protected]

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building

The Trailhead – State Parks and Trails Outreach

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Want to use your knowledge and passion for outdoor recreation to help others find opportunities outdoors?

The Minnesota DNR Division of Parks and Trails is partnering with the Loppet Foundation at The Trailhead, a new and exciting outdoor recreation facility located in Theodore Wirth Regional Park, 1221 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Golden Valley MN, 55422.

The MN DNR Division of Parks and Trails has a kiosk in the new building to provide resources on outdoor recreation opportunities and is looking for volunteers to staff it. Be a part of a new partnership that will continue to encourage getting outside and enjoying Minnesota’s public lands!

As an outreach volunteer, you will be:

  • Trained on topics such as Minnesota State Parks and Trails information, the DNR website and other public lands resources, and other FAQ you might receive from customers
  • Oriented on the logistics of staffing the kiosk
  • Helping customers research and plan outdoor-related trips with knowledge of MN State Parks and Trails
  • Using available technology, maps, and trip guides to answer questions and plan trips
  • Providing insight on recreation opportunities

Qualifications Desired:

  • Experience with outdoor recreation in Minnesota
  • Experience with and/or interest in state parks and trails is preferred
  • Comfortable with initiating conversations with guests and taking initiative with regards to outreach
  • Familiar with tablets or iPads (sufficient to help customers navigate to different websites)
  • Familiar with the state parks and trails reservation system website
  • Willing to positively represent the DNR’s goals and mission
  • Willing to make the most of downtime in between guests by doing research to further your own knowledge, maintaining the kiosk, and otherwise being proactive

volunteerTime Commitment:

  • Weekday evenings and weekend shifts available:
    • Tuesdays 4 – 7 PM
    • Thursdays 4-7 PM
    • Saturdays 10 AM – 2 PM
  • At least one shift per month is required (you can mix and match)

To Sign Up:

  • Follow the link to The Trailhead activity
  • Fill out an application (you will be prompted to create an account first if you do not have one)
  • Starting dates will be determined after passing a background check

For more information on becoming part of the Trailhead Team, please contact Kelsey Wotzka, Urban Outreach Coordinator, at [email protected]  or phone 651-402-0665.

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adventure station kiosk

REI Adventure Station – Trip Planning

(Metro Area and Central MN)

The Minnesota DNR wants your knowledge and passion for outdoor recreation! Interested in sharing your love for Minnesota’s State Parks and Trails with others?

The Minnesota DNR Division of Parks and Trails is looking for volunteers to staff the new Adventure Station located at the REI Bloomington Flagship store. The Adventure Station was created in an effort to provide awareness of recreational opportunities and to connect people with outdoor experiences on Minnesota’s public lands.

As an Adventure Station Volunteer, you will be:

  • Trained on topics such as Minnesota State Parks and Trails information, the DNR website and other public lands resources, and other FAQ you might receive from customers
  • Oriented on the logistics of staffing the Adventure Station
  • Helping customers research and plan outdoor-related trips with knowledge of MN State Parks and Trails
  • Using available technology, maps, and trip guides to answer questions and plan trips
  • Providing insight on recreation opportunities
winter scene in tettegouche state park

Qualifications Desired:

  • Experience with outdoor recreation in Minnesota
  • Experience with and/or interest in state parks and trails is preferred
  • Familiar with tablets or iPads (sufficient to help customers navigate to different websites)
  • Familiar with the state parks and trails reservation system website
  • Willing to positively represent the DNR’s goals and mission

Time Commitment:

  • This is an ongoing opportunity and signing up for shifts on a regular monthly basis is required (schedule flexible)

Shifts available:

  • Tuesday – Thursday
    • 11 AM – 3 PM
    •   3 PM  – 7 PM
  • Friday
    • 11 AM – 3 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday
    • 10 AM – 2 PM
    •   2 PM – 6 PM

To Sign Up:

For more information on becoming part of the Adventure Station Team, please contact Kelsey Wotzka, Urban Outreach Coordinator, at [email protected]  or phone 651-402-0665.

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bison

Bison Ambassadors – Minneopa State Park, Mankato

(Southern MN)

It’s thrilling to watch bison up close!

Visitors entering the bison range at Minneopa State Park near Mankato are anxious and excited for an opportunity to see and photograph wildlife.  Yet, many visitors may not know where or how to watch bison safely and courteously.  Park staff cannot always be present to provide directions and answer basic questions about bison and bison viewing.  For this reason Bison Ambassadors help establish a link between visitors and park staff.

Be a Bison Ambassador for 2 hours on weekends or holidays!

Responsibilities of Bison Ambassadors:
Authorized work:

  • Become familiar with basic bison safe viewing information and communicate this to visitors.
  • Help the public view bison at Minneopa State Park by answering visitor questions about viewing etiquette and locations bison where may be seen.
  • Answer questions and explain bison drive rules in a cheerful and helpful manner.
  • Act professionally in your official role as a Bison Ambassador.
  • Refer all questions related to DNR policies and procedures to your supervisor or the DNR Information Line.
  • Make at least one entry into the Ambassador Log Book for your shift. Entries could include frequently asked questions, notes on where the bison were, interesting nature observations, visitor behaviors of note, or anything you feel would be of value to share.
  • Occasionally assist with the naturalist program by posting and distributing schedules, publicizing programs or helping with programs.

Restricted work:

  • You must never come within 25 yards (75 feet or 1/4 of a football field) of bison. Do not come within 75 feet of a cow and calf.
  • Never drive a vehicle around or through a herd of bison.
  • Avoid expressing personal opinions while on duty and representing the park as a Bison Ambassador.

Qualifications needed:

  • Be familiar with Minneopa State Park rules and safe bison viewing.
  • Be familiar with basic bison facts (How much you learn about bison natural history is up to you.)
  • Ability to work independently

Safety training topics to be covered with volunteers:

  • Rules of safe bison viewing
  • Ticks
  • Heat and Cold Related Illness

Minimum Time Commitment:

  • Weekends and holiday dates open to volunteer through October
  • Shifts are 2 hours long. 10:00 AM – 12 Noon or 12:00 – 2:00 PM.
  • We prefer you not volunteer for both shifts on a day to avoid fatigue.

TO SIGN UP:

To sign up go to the Bison Ambassador Application to sign up as a DNR volunteer and then view available shifts.

For more information:
Contact Scott Kudelka, Area Naturalist, Minneopa State Park, 54497 Gadwall Rd, Mankato, MN at 507-386-3910 or email [email protected]

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woman gathering prairie seeds

Improve Habitat for Wildlife on a WMA in Wright, Stearns or Sherburne Counties

(Metro Area and Central MN)

The State of Minnesota has over 1,000 public wildlife areas designated for wildlife watching opportunities of birds, waterfowl and mammals, as well as offering public hunting of small and big game animals. These Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) need help in maintaining and enhancing the land so wildlife can thrive.

Individuals or groups interested in volunteering to help wildlife can do a one-time event or come back several times.

As part of a typical volunteer workday on a MN Wildlife Management Area (WMA) you could:

  • Collect prairie seeds
  • Monitor and control terrestrial invasive species (i.e. Buckthorn)
  • Help with trail projects and trash pickup
  • Assist with boundary and sign maintenance
  • Clear vegetation from shallow lake and wetland water controls
  • Monitor shallow lakes and wetland water levels
  • Collect and/or seed wild rice

To volunteer on a Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Stearns, Wright or Sherburne County, contact MN DNR Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Nicholas Snavely based out of Sauk Rapids at 320-223-7872 or email [email protected] for scheduling specific days to volunteer.

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mines

Make Geological History!

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)

The DNR Lands & Minerals office in Hibbing is home to several large collections of documents relating to past mining and geological exploration in our state.

If you enjoy organizing, proofing, transcribing, (and sometimes sleuthing!) and appreciate geology, peatlands, and/or Minnesota history – this volunteer position is for YOU!

Work closely with geologists, engineers, and reclamation specialists to help:

  • scan historical documents
  • organize collections holdings
  • proof PDF documents of previously scanned work
  • transcribe geological and geochemical data

We are in the midst of tidying up some of our historical collections and online data in order to make room for our expanding collections. These documents allow everyone understand Minnesota geology, mining, and exploration history – all of which is important academically, environmentally, and economically. We need your help to expedite this enormous task!

As a geological history volunteer:

  • You will volunteer for a minimum of 2-3 hours per week, anytime between 8 am - 4 pm, Monday-Friday, at the DNR Lands and Minerals Office, 1525 3rd Avenue East, Hibbing, MN 55746. Please note that Hibbing is located approximately 3 hours' drive north of the Twin Cities. Experience with Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Excel, or Word is desired, but not required. Training will be provided.
  • If you do not live in the Hibbing area, you may volunteer remotely! The current remote volunteer project is to transcribe core log and assay data. To volunteer remotely, you will need a stable internet connection, an email account you check regularly, Adobe Reader (or equivalent), and Microsoft Excel (or equivalent) is required for any volunteers wishing to work remotely. Training will be provided.

For more information, contact Andrea Reed, Mineral Resource Geologist, NE Region, Hibbing, at 218-231-8460 or email [email protected]

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deer in woods

Adopt-a-WMA Program

(Metro Area and Central MN, NE, NW and Southern MN)

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). This program encourages Minnesota volunteers to "adopt" a specific site, parking lot, or project on a WMA area to help maintain these public lands in cooperation with Assistant Area Wildlife Managers and Area Wildlife Managers.

Commitment:

Projects for the Adopt-A-WMA Program are typically focused on a minimum 2 year time commitment. Volunteers must be able to work outdoors in various weather conditions safely without direct supervision except for initial guidance and orientation as needed. Hours are flexible typically Monday through Friday with weekends possible depending on the project.

Projects for Individuals, Groups, Organizations or Companies

The work level of project/site depends on the interest and skill level of the volunteer(s):

Level 1: (volunteer work without supervision)
Trash pickup, sign replacement, vandalism reporting, reading water gauges, painting facilities, etc.

Level 2: (volunteer work with initial guidance/orientation) 
Seed harvest, weed removal/vegetation management using hand tools, shallow lake and wetland water control vegetation clearing, wildlife surveys, facility work, fence removal, invasive species control, maintaining forest openings, etc.

Level 3: (volunteer work requiring certifications/licenses, training or close supervision)
Equipment, power tools, chainsaw work, other specialized skilled work, mowing noxious weeds, mow prescribed fire breaks, mow hunter walking trails, prescribed burning, etc.

  • Organizations or companies interested in improving wildlife habitat on a WMA may do so at Level 3 by providing contract services at no cost. This would include access/road maintenance, tractor and equipment operation, farming activities, mowing, power tool use, chainsaw work, prescribed burning, and herbicide application. *Liability and Worker’s Compensation is covered by the organization, rather than DNR, in these cases.

To find the closest WMA to you, refer to the MN DNR’s Recreation Compass and maps of Assistant Area Wildlife Managers and Area Wildlife Managers. Contact them to find out how you can adopt a WMA!

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making cookies

Make 100 Tree Cookies

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)

Help classroom teachers across Minnesota teach children how trees and other woody plants grow, factors that affect tree growth, tree identification, and more You can volunteer to create "tree cookies" which are slices of branches or trunks that show the rings of a tree 100 cookies are enough for about three classes of students, so the more you can make, the better They will be used!

How to Make Tree Cookies:

  • Slice the branches or trunk into half-inch thick, wafer-shaped "cookies" that are between three to six inches in diameter.
  • "Interesting" cookies with easily readable rings are preferred (these show a history of disease, disturbance, or other story.)
  • Dry the cookies correctly Do not skip this step or your cookies will rot See detailed instructions.
  • Sand the surfaces until the rings appear.
  • Finish the surfaces with clear varnish.
  • Optional – Label the cookie with the tree species and location cut.
  • Don't use wood from ash trees.

Detailed instructions found in How to Make Tree Cookies

This project can be done individually or with a group (scouts, 4-H, FFA, Kiwanis, etc.) You must provide your own tree or woody plant material, saws, sander, oven, varnish, and labor.

When finished contact Laura Duffey, Project Learning Tree Coordinator, at 651-259-5263 or email [email protected] to arrange for delivery to a school site and to get Minnesota DNR recognition.

Project Learning Tree (PLT) program is a natural resources education program for teachers across Minnesota. Teachers often don't have the time or capability to make these cookies so your help is greatly appreciated.

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burning brush

Get Physical on a State Natural Area

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)

As part of a typical volunteer workday on a MN Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) you will:  

  • collect prairie and woodland seeds
  • plant seedlings
  • pull buckthorn or other invasive species of plants
  • cut and burn brush such as sumac

Projects are typically carried out on Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, unless otherwise noted, on many weekends throughout the year.

SNAs are the premier state lands displaying examples of native prairies, old growth forests, geological features and habitat for rare and endangered species. 

Take a look at volunteering on SNAs, and check out the calendar of events to see when you can come lend a hand!

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minnesota master naturalist logo

Be a Master Naturalist

If you enjoy learning about nature, hiking, bird watching, or identifying wildflowers, you'll love being a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer!

Take trainings and learn about Minnesota's biomes (plant and animal communities) including:

  • hardwoods and rivers
  • north woods and Great Lakes
  • prairies

To learn more visit www.MinnesotaMasterNaturalist.org.

The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a joint effort of the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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steve ward

Lake Level Minnesota volunteering... doing your level best!

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)

Whether it is floods, droughts, or just a normal year, lake level fluctuations (or the lack of them) are important to document. Be a volunteer observer and record lake levels on a regular basis.

Find out more about the Lake Level Minnesota program and Check lake levels with the LakeFinder

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firearms safety class

Volunteer Safety Instructors

(Metro and Central MN, NW, NE, and Southern MN)

DNR Certified Volunteer Safety Instructor opportunities are available in the following areas:

  • Firearms safety
  • Bowhunter education
  • Snowmobile safety
  • ATV safety
  • Wildlife species

Pass on a love for your sport by teaching youth and adults the ethics and safety you would expect from those you meet in the field.

All new instructor applicants and instructors seeking recertification must meet the requirements of being at least 18 years old and passing a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) background check.

If you are interested in becoming a DNR Certified Volunteer Safety Instructor, the process begins online:  Get started now! And check out upcoming safety instructor courses.  There is no fee to attend.

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zebra mussels

Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program

(NE, NW, Southern, Metro area and Central MN)

Zebra mussels are spreading to lakes and rivers in the Midwest.

These small invasive mussels attach to hard surfaces in lakes and rivers doing major damage such as:

  • killing native mussels
  • limiting recreational activities
  • clogging water supply pipes
  • competing with larval fish for food

Spend a few minutes checking the docks,  swimming platforms, boats, motors, anchors, and any hard objects that have been in the lake or river where you live.  Early detection for zebra mussels is important in protecting your property and Minnesota's water resources.

Learn more on how you can monitor for zebra mussels .

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