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





smokey bear at the state fair with a fair goer

Minnesota State Fair Volunteer Positions – Smokey Bear and More!

(Metro Area and Central MN)

The Minnesota State Fair is coming to St. Paul, August 23 - September 3, and YOU can be a part of it!

  • Receive admission tickets to the fair for each day you volunteer with the DNR!
  • Volunteer at least one day for 4 hours.
  • Parking and meals will be your responsibility.

Volunteer positions we are filling include:

  • Smokey Bear and His Voice
  • Smokey Bear in the State Fair Daily Parade
  • EAB Costume Character
  • Wildlife Wing Interpreter
  • Parks and Trails Legacy Exhibit
  • Fish Pond Talks

Go to the 2018 MN State Fair Volunteer Positions and follow the web link cited at the end of each position to sign up or contact the person listed for more information.



kid zone at the fair

Steele County Free Fair - DNR Booth

(Southern MN)

Are you tech-savvy and interested in natural resources? Help staff a DNR booth for a few hours at the Steele County Free Fair in Owatonna, MN, August 14 – 19! Located in the Commercial Building (building is climate controlled), you will be working alongside DNR employees and will interact with all ages and a wide diversity of fairgoers.

Help people learn how to access DNR information via smartphones and the internet. Here’s how:

  • Assist fair attendees in finding answers to their natural resource questions using their smartphone or the internet.
  • Administer a short scripted survey using instant response clickers.
  • Interact with fair attendees visiting the DNR booth in a respectful manner.

Qualifications needed:

  • Ability to use a smartphone and explain how to use DNR mobile applications (training provided).
  • Ability to use a laptop computer to administer short survey using instant response clickers (training provided).
  • Ability to stand, bend, stoop and carry small objects

Minimum Time Commitment:

  • One 4 hour shift in the afternoon to evening hours
  • Depending on experience level, some over the phone training time will be required prior to the shift.
  • Dates are August 14 – 19, 2018
  • You can sign up for multiple shifts if on different days.

To Sign Up:
Go to the Steele County Free Fair Booth Application to sign up as a DNR Volunteer and select your day and shift.

For more information, contact Catherine Fouchi, Regional Planner, New Ulm at 507-359-6034 or email [email protected] or Brenda Black, Regional Director’s Assistant at 507-359-6011 or email [email protected]



Smokey Bear

Steele County Free Fair – Be Smokey Bear!

(Southern MN)

AHelp spread the word on wildfire prevention by playing the costumed character Smokey Bear at the DNR Booth at the Steele County Free Fair!

Smokey poses for pictures with people and has a DNR employee with him to speak to fairgoers about wildfire prevention.  You will spend 30 minute intervals in the suit with breaks to cool off and rest over a 2 hour shift.

Smokey must:

  • Be at least 5' 7" or taller
  • Have a chest or waist no larger than 46" to be able to fit in the costume
  • Have good balance when walking with large shoe covers and Smokey head.
  • Interact non-verbally with fair attendees with positive body language while in costume.
  • Be able to carry up to 10 pounds
  • Be able to withstand warm temperatures and confined space around your face while in costume.
  • Bring 2 changes of clothing and wear sturdy shoes.

Safety training topics to be covered:

  • How to safely maneuver in Smokey Bear costume
  • Heat stress
  • How to approach small children in Smokey Bear costume

Minimum Time Commitment:

  • One 2-hour shift. (Total of 1 hour in the costume at 30 minute intervals)
  • Shifts are in the afternoon to evening hours
  • Dates are August 15 – 19, 2018
  • Will consider multiple shifts for Smokey on the same day.

To Sign Up:
Go to the Steele County Smokey Bear Application and sign up as a DNR volunteer and select your day and shift.

For more information, contact Catherine Fouchi, Regional Planner, New Ulm at 507-359-6034 or email [email protected] or Brenda Black, Regional Director’s Assistant at 507-359-6011 or email [email protected]



woman holding a large parsnip that was pulled from the ground

Annual Parsnip Pull – June 30

(Southern Minnesota)

Wild Parsnip is an invasive exotic species that causes phyto-photo dermatitis, a very painful and disfiguring blistering effect on the skin. The plant is present in Whitewater State Park and poses a serious problem for campers and park visitors, especially children.

How can you help?
Assist project leaders by pulling wild parsnips from heavy use areas of the park. Over the last several years, volunteers have pulled parsnip from campsites and results have shown a dramatic drop in the number of plants regenerating on those sites! Together we can slow the spread of this invasive plant!

Saturday, June 30, 2018
8 AM – 12 Noon (Lunch provided!)

What to bring?

  • wear a long sleeve shirt
  • tuck your pants into tall socks
  • wear a hat and sunglasses
  • bring a water bottle

You will be provided with:

  • safety gloves
  • weed wrenches
  • training on how to safely pull plants
  • activities and entertainment focused on invasive species
  • and lunch!

Volunteer crews will:

  • work in high-use areas of the park, specifically the campgrounds and areas around the visitor center.
  • follow safety precautions in pulling and handling wild parsnip
  • training on how to safely pull plants
  • wear safety gloves at all times

You must be physically able to:

  • stand for 4 hours
  • bend over
  • training on how to safely pull plants
  • carry spades, shovels or other tools needed

Approximately 50 volunteers are needed, so invite your friends and bring a group!

To Sign Up:

Go to the Parsnip Pull application to sign up as a DNR Volunteer in our new volunteer software, Better Impact. If you already have a DNR volunteer profile in the system, apply for this event by using with your username and password.

For further questions, contact Sara Holger, Naturalist, Whitewater State Park, 19041 Highway 74, Altura, MN at 507-312-2308 or email [email protected]




Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program: June 29-July 9

(Central, NE and NW Minnesota)

Volunteers across the state are needed to track Minnesota’s loon population.  Now celebrating its 25th year, the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program will assign you to a pre-selected lake to count the number of loons you see on one morning between Friday, June 29th and Monday, July 9th, 2018. Detailed instructions, training materials, maps, and a data form will be provided. 

Here’s what it takes to be a Loon Monitor:

  • Time commitment is 2-4 hours per lake. 
  • Surveys must be done on one (1) morning sometime between 5:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.
  • You must commit to completing assigned lake(s) within the specified time frame and returning completed survey materials. 

Call or e-mail the following DNR Regional Nongame Wildlife staff to be assigned to a lake(s) in one of the listed counties:

Becker or Otter Tail Counties: Contact JoEllen Klemek, Bemidji, 218-308-2462, [email protected]

Cook, Lake, or Itasca Counties: Contact Ashley Kastner, Grand Rapids, 218-328-8823, [email protected]

Aitkin or Crow Wing Counties: Contact Karen McLennan, Brainerd, 218-203-4352, [email protected]

Kandiyohi County: Contact Dorie Tess, New Ulm, 507-359-6036, [email protected]




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 (May – 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 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]


woman holding a large parsnip that was pulled from the ground

Wildlife Research on Grassland Birds – July - Sept

(Southern Minnesota)

Gain valuable experience in wildlife research by helping us collect field data on the exposure risk of grassland wildlife (including pheasants and other birds, and pollinators) to insecticides used to control soybean aphids. Work with staff from the Farmland Wildlife Populations & Research Group (FaWPRG) in Madelia and a Master’s student from the USGS’s Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Minnesota.

We have limited staff who will need to be at multiple study sites simultaneously during the peak of aphid spraying. Your participation will allow us to visit these sites and collect samples over a very short period of time, ultimately improving our ability to time the collection of our data according to project protocols and increase our sample sizes for analysis.

In addition to contributing to this important and highly-anticipated wildlife research effort, you will gain valuable experience in project coordination and management; field data collection using various techniques to sample vegetation, insects, and pesticides; and interacting with biologists and other staff from DNR and other natural resource organizations, farmers, and other private landowners.

Wildlife Research Tasks will include:

  • conducting vegetation surveys
  • collecting insects via sweepnet and vacuum sampling
  • deploying and collecting passive sampling devices (PSDs) for measurement of insecticide deposition
  • properly labeling and storing samples collected, and
  • other general duties as they relate to the insecticide research project.

Training on all techniques and methods will be provided. Safety training will be provided.

Qualifications Desired:
An interest in conducting field-based ecological research, as well as the ability to:

  • hike over uneven terrain for at least half a mile while carrying up to 25 pounds of equipment
  • stand for long periods of time
  • work in a hot, humid outdoor conditions with biting insects and the occasional snake
  • interact courteously and positively with private landowners, farmers, and other members of the public.

No other special skills or experience is required.

Time Commitment:

  • Variable and dependent on timing of spraying operations.
  • Expectations are 8-10 hours/day and 2-4 days/week over the course of a 2-4 week period from approximately late July through early September.

Housing and Travel:

  • Housing provided near Dundee, MN but daily travel to study sites throughout southwestern, south central, and west central MN is necessary.
  • Work vehicles will be provided.
  • Hotels or other field housing will also be provided when overnight stays away from the primary field house are necessary.
  • Volunteer reimbursement is provided.

Two to four volunteer positions will assist with this research project recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and funded primarily by the legislature via the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF).

Beyond the desired outcomes of the research project, our goal is to provide a valuable and unique experience to volunteers who are interested in learning more about wildlife research and management in Minnesota’s farmland region. You will also be provided the opportunity to assist with a concurrent pheasant habitat selection and survival research project coordinated by the FaWPRG and the Master’s student which relies on the use of VHF radio telemetry to track and monitor hens and their broods during the breeding season.

For more information, contact Nicole Davros, Farmland Wildlife Research Supervisor, Madelia, at 507-642-8478 x 225 or email [email protected]



officer in field with binoculars

Volunteer Actors for Conservation Officer Academy

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Use your acting skills to bring some “reality” to officer cadets training to become Conservation Officers. The Enforcement Training Academy needs volunteers to act in various training scenarios during Academy 18 at Camp Ripley, Little Falls. These scenarios occur one day on a weekly basis during the academy going on now through August 14, 2018. You may volunteer for one or more days. Bring a friend! At least 25 volunteers are needed.

Volunteers will:

  • Act out various scenes of hunting, fishing, boating, ATV riding, etc.
  • Act like a real-life hunter, fisher, trapper, boater, etc.

This means as an actor you might:

  • Play it straight, as if they weren’t the violator
  • Try to help the violator by trying to talk the cadet “officer” out of writing a ticket
  • Hide extra game in another cooler under a tarp in your pickup and see if the cadet discovers it

For example, Game Enforcement Scenarios would have 5 or more sites set up with at least 2 actors at each site:

  • Site A is “Fail to Validate Site Tag” scenario
  • Site B is “Decoy Use/Shoot from roadway or motor vehicle” scenario
  • Site C is “Pheasant Hunter check / taking of a hen pheasant” scenario and so on.

Actors are encouraged to try to be realistic – sometimes you get to be antagonistic and rude, sometimes cooperative. The goal is to give the cadets a taste of “real life” duty. Acting experience is helpful, as is some experience with hunting, fishing, or boating, but are not necessary to participate.

Volunteers are provided with:

  • instruction
  • equipment to use for scenarios
  • refreshments and meals
  • bug spray and sunscreen
  • mileage reimbursement to and from Camp Ripley

Scenario training day happens 1 day a week each week of Academy 18 (May 2 – Aug. 14, 2018); days are approximately 12 hours long so officers can experience scenarios at various times of the day.

For more information or to sign up, contact Conservation Officer Mike Lee, Academy Director, 1501 Hwy 115, Nelson Hall, Little Falls, MN 56345 at 320-412-1176 or email [email protected] .


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

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 Aimee Gerhartz, Urban Outreach Specialist, at [email protected]  or call Kelsey Wotzka, Urban Outreach Coordinator, at 651-402-0665.


black bear

Report a Bear Sighting

(NW, Central and Southern MN)

Minnesota’s black bear range has been slowly expanding southward and westward. To better understand and document this expansion, we need your help. 

Go to the Bear Sighting webpage to see the map and report any bear sightings outside of the primary bear range.  We are depending on Citizen Scientists like you to help with this research.



Organize Scientific and Natural Areas Files

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Use your organizational skills to help the DNR convert older paper files with important Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA) site information to a digital format available online to staff statewide.
General Management Files (GMF) of SNAs need to be prepared to be scanned by a scanning company.  This will involve assessing the formats and content of the files, reorganizing the files from a geographic organizational system to a county system, and recycling old files that are duplicates of electronic information already available in other places.


Volunteers will:

  • Get familiar with the SNA program and the GMF files
  • Determine what kinds of information is not duplicated in other formats/places
  • Re-order the files alphabetically or alphabetically by county instead of by geographic quad code
  • Systematically look through the files and sort them into agreed-upon categories for each site
    • Acquisition
    • Management
    • Correspondence
    • Legal
    • Maps (oversized maps will need special attention to prepare for scanning)
    • Resources and reports
    • Rx-burning
    • Etc.  (or suggest different system based on researching the files)
  • Use an approved file-naming protocol to name the files
  • Work with the contractor to prepare the files for scanning.

Skills Needed:

  • Detail oriented
  • Willing to work independently most of the time
  • Good communicator
  • Curious and interested in the SNA Program
  • Able to build trust with DNR program staff.

Experience Needed:

  • Natural resource experience (understands the language of science)
  • Experience creating a filing system

Time Commitment:
You can work any time between 8:00am and 5:00pm, Tuesdays, Wednesday, or Thursdays preferred (to start).  All work must take place in the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Rd, St Paul. We estimate the project will take 6 months to one year, depending on how many days per week you come in.  Additional projects may be available after this time.

For more information, contact Melissa Driscoll, SNA Program Acquisition Coordinator, St Paul at 651-259-5098 or email [email protected]




Interpretive Center Greeter at Sibley State Park

(Southern MN)

Do you find yourself happy to be at state park and can’t stop smiling? Then the Interpretive Center Greeter is the volunteer position for you!

The center gives visitors the opportunity to learn about Sibley State Parks resources through interactive displays as well as observe wildlife in the back pond.  Greeters would be the smiling face visitors see when entering the center and would be available to help check out equipment and answer questions. Shifts can range from 2 – 6 hours.

Our goal is to have the building open 7 days a week with the focus on longer open hours Friday-Sunday. Volunteers will greet visitors and answer basic park questions. Training will be provided. Naturalists will be in charge of opening, closing and cleaning the center.

For more information on how you can be a host, contact Kelsey Olson, Lead Naturalist, Sibley State Park, 800 Sibley Park Rd NE, New London, MN 56273 at 320-354-2002 or email [email protected]


  • From St. Cloud, take State Hwy 23 to New London, then State Hwy 9 west to County Rd. 40. Then go west on County Rd. 40. Go one mile north on 71 to park entrance.
  • From Willmar, take US Hwy 71 north, 15 miles to the park entrance.



Prairie Butterfly Gardening

(Southern MN)

Do you think bees and butterflies are important to our environment? Have some gardening skills? Share your knowledge about the importance of protecting pollinator habitat and assist with maintaining the butterfly/pollinator gardens at Whitewater State Park this spring and/or summer.

Volunteer butterfly gardeners will assist with:

  • Invasive species identification and removal as instructed.
  • Resource surveys, inventories and/or citizen science data collection
    • native bee surveys
    • monarch larva surveys
    • phenology observations
  • Habitat restoration
    • seed collecting
    • weeding
    • mulching
    • seeding/planting
    • watering
    • mowing
  • Herbicide application (training will be discussed if interested.)
  • Promoting personal safety through use of Personal Protective Equipment for all assigned tasks (PPE provided by park/trail site supervisor.)

Volunteers must be able to:

  • Carry up to 30 pounds. 
  • Walk up hills and on uneven terrain. 
  • Reach overhead, bend over, and squat/kneel down without restriction.

Sign-Up and More Information:

Fill out the Prairie Butterfly Garden Volunteer Application online to get started! You will be contacted with more information. Whitewater State Park is near Altura, MN.


catching insects

sna workers

Improve Habitat for Wildlife on a WMA

(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.




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]


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.


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!


bikers on trail

Volunteer as a State Trail Monitor

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

Help keep Minnesota’s State Trails beautiful by volunteering as a State Trail Monitor!  Not only will you be able to spend time outside on the scenic state trails, but you will also be making a difference!

Learn more about volunteering with Minnesota’s State Trails.




campground hosts

Campground Host at a MN State Park

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

If you enjoy the great outdoors, scenic vistas, and the company of other campers, then consider volunteering to be a "live in" host for at least 4 weeks (one month) during the period of April to October at a Minnesota State Park operated campground.

A host’s primary responsibility is to assist campers by:

  • answering questions
  • explaining campground
  • doing light maintenance work around the campground
  • picking up litter
  • sweeping and stocking supplies in toilet buildings
  • performing emergency minor repairs when possible

Hosts may be requested to assist in the naturalist program by posting and distributing schedules, publicizing programs or helping with programs. Volunteers will set an example by being model campers, practicing good housekeeping at all times in and around the host site, and by observing all rules.

Campground Host volunteers generally work independently. Volunteers are accountable to the park manager who will provide training and orientation for hosts and assist hosts throughout the season with any question or problems that may arise. Length of period, workdays and hours are established with the campground manager, but will generally include all weekends and holidays.  Avid campers or RV’ers are encouraged to apply!

Read more about the Campground Host Program.  Check out the listing of which parks are still looking for hosts in 2018.  Email your questions to [email protected]  or call 888- MINNDNR (888-646-6367) or in the Metro area call 651-259-5607.

NOTE:  Campground Hosts will be selected from applications that have been satisfactorily completed and submitted in a timely manner.  Interviews will be conducted by the campground manager.  The number of consecutive years that a host may serve may be limited to allow others an opportunity. These limitations are at the discretion of the campground manager. All DNR volunteers must undergo a background check.  This is done at the time of selection.  This also applies to hosts returning from the previous season.



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.


removing 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!


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.


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


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, apply online to become an instructor. And check out upcoming safety instructor courses. There is no fee to attend.



Volunteer Loon Watcher Survey

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

If you live on a lake or regularly visit a lake, and you have an interest in loons, you can be a volunteer "loon watcher" in the Minnesota Volunteer Loon Watcher Survey.

As a Loon Watcher you will record:

  • the number of loons you see
  • nesting success observed in eggs and young birds
  • interesting occurrences and
  • problems that may harm the loons

For more information about the Minnesota Volunteer Loon Watcher Survey contact Kevin Woizeschke at [email protected] or 218-203-4371.


zebra mussels

Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program

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