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 2018 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 - Summer 2019

NORTHWESTERN MINNESOTA - Summer 2019

NORTHEASTERN MINNESOTA - Summer 2019

SOUTHERN MINNESOTA - Summer 2019


smokey and woman

Minnesota State Fair Volunteer Positions – Smokey Bear and More!

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

The Minnesota State Fair is coming to St. Paul, August 22 - September 2, 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 3 - 4 hours.
  • Parking and meals will be your responsibility.
  • All volunteers must pass a background check and safety quiz.

Volunteer positions we are filling include:

  • Smokey Bear and His Voice
  • Smokey Bear in the Daily Parade
  • Fire Prevention Building Host
  • EAB Costume Character
  • Wildlife Wing Interpreter
  • Parks and Trails Legacy Exhibit

Go to the 2019 MN State Fair Volunteer Positions webpage and follow the web link cited at the end of each position to sign up or contact the person listed for more information.

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building at sibley state park

Sibley State Park Centennial Birthday Bash – Saturday, June 8

(Southern MN)

Sibley State Park is celebrating 100 years with a Birthday Bash on Saturday, June 8 from 9 AM – 4 PM. A variety of community-orientated programs will be happening throughout the day and YOU can be a part of it!

Volunteer to engage the public in one of these family-centered activities:

  • Go Fish
  • Spin the Wheel
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Paper Making

Training will be provided. Get involved from 12 noon – 4 PM.

Qualifications needed:

  • Friendly and willing to interact with the public
  • Able to stand or remain seated for up to three hours at an activity

Saturday, June 8 is also National Get Outdoors Day so enjoy FREE park admission this day!

Here's a rundown of the day's events:

Sibley's 100th Birthday Bash with Live Music

Siama Matuzungidi and Band in Concert

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Birthday Bash Program

Voyageur Canoe Paddle on Lake Andrew: Birthday Bash Program

For more information on how you can be a part of the Birthday Bash, 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]

Directions to Sibley State Park:

  • 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.

 

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dwarf trout lily

Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program: June 28 – July 8

(Central, Northeast, and Northwest MN)

Help track Minnesota’s loon population! Now celebrating its 26th year, the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is recruiting volunteers to count the number of adult and juvenile loons on pre-selected lakes one morning between Friday June 28 - Monday July 8, 2019.

Detailed instructions, training materials, maps, volunteer application forms and a data sheet will be sent to you.

Here is what it takes to be a Loon Monitor:

  • Complete the survey on one (1) morning between June 28 - July 8, 2019.
  • Count loons and complete the survey between the hours of 5:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.
  • Commit to surveying for 2 - 4 hours per lake.
  • Return completed survey materials.

To see what lakes need a Loon Monitor or to sign up, go to the Minnesota Loon Monitoring webpage  and click on the Volunteer Map button under Sign up for a lake.

Check out the survey tips and resources also listed on the webpage.

 

For questions or more information, call or email the following regional loon monitoring coordinators:

  • Becker or Otter Tail Counties: Contact Nettie Cole, Bemidji, 218-308-2620, [email protected]
  • Cook, Lake, or Itasca Counties: Contact Bry Persing, Eveleth, 218-735-3962, [email protected]
  • Aitkin or Crow Wing Counties: Contact Karen McLennan, Brainerd, 218-203-4352, [email protected]
  • Kandiyohi County: Contact Dorie Tess, New Ulm, 507-233-1250, [email protected]

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butterfly on flower

Photographing Wildflowers and Pollinators

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Use your artistic skills and take this opportunity to make help a difference in documenting the wildflowers, bees, moths and butterflies currently present in the area of St Croix State Park.  Your photos will assist us in determining if the pollinators in Minnesota are stable, declining, are vulnerable to decline or are below levels desirable to ensure their long-term health and stability. 

Background

Minnesota has a stewardship responsibility for those species of which populations in the state represent a significant portion of their North American breeding, migrating, or wintering population, or species whose Minnesota populations are stable, but whose populations outside of Minnesota have declined or are declining in a substantial part of their range.

Portions of St. Croix State Park are currently being restored to a native oak savanna biological community. This community will provide habitat for pollinators, flowering forbs, and other savanna species.

Volunteer to:

  • Take digital photos of wildflowers and invertebrate pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths) on state and/or private lands in and around St Croix State Park
  • Note: No trespassing on private land without permission from private landowners

Volunteers must have the ability to: 

  • Photograph wildflowers and pollinators
  • Identify the location of where the photo was taken
  • Identify the flowers and/or pollinators, if possible (not required)
  • Electronically send the digital photo(s) to DNR staff (JPG preferred)

No minimum time commitment is required - whatever time and photos that can be taken (June – October) are appreciated.

To Sign Up:

For more information contact Anna Hess, Eastern District Manager, Nongame Wildlife, Duluth at [email protected] or 218-302-3243.

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building

The Trailhead – State Parks and Trails Outreach

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Do you enjoy being active outside?  How would you like to share your passion for outdoor recreation to help others discover how fun it is? Then join us at the Trailhead!

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.

Volunteer to staff the DNR kiosk in this new building to provide resources on outdoor recreation opportunities. Be a part of a new partnership that will continue to encourage getting outside and enjoying Minnesota’s public lands!

As a Trailhead Volunteer, you will be:

  • Trained on topics such as Minnesota State Parks and Trails information, the DNR website, public lands resources, and other FAQs you might receive from guests
  • Sharing your personal experiences and knowledge to help inspire guests’ next outdoor adventure
  • Helping guests 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

Schedule:

Weekly shifts are available as well as special events

To Sign Up:

  • Go to the DNR Parks and Trails Outreach volunteer page on the DNR’s volunteer website
  • 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 Kaia Bierman, Conservation Corps Urban Outreach Specialist, at [email protected] or via phone at 612-725-2724 Ext. 222.

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adventure station kiosk

REI Adventure Station

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Do you like to plan outings?  Meet new people?  Become an Adventure Station Volunteer and help folks plan their next outdoor adventure!

The Minnesota DNR Division of Parks and Trails is looking for volunteers to share their passion for Minnesota State Parks and Trails with the public. The DNR is partnering with REI to provide in-person information on local outdoor recreation at the new Adventure Station located at the REI Bloomington Flagship store. The Adventure Station is 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, public lands resources, and other FAQs you might receive from guests
  • Sharing your personal experiences and knowledge in helping inspire guests’ next outdoor adventure
  • 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

Schedule:

  • This is an ongoing opportunity with weekday, evening, and weekend shifts as well as special events

To Sign Up:

For more information on becoming part of the Adventure Station Team, please contact Kaia Bierman, Conservation Corps Urban Outreach Specialist, at [email protected] or via phone at 612-725-2724 Ext. 222.

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butterfly

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.

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turtle

Turtle Care Volunteer – Sibley State Park

(Southern MN)

Gain experience in animal care and proper handling techniques as a Turtle Care Volunteer at Sibley State Park.  Work with the Naturalist to learn about painted and snapping turtles, what it takes to keep them safe and healthy, how to safely handle turtles, how to feed and exercise them, and how we use them in public programs on topics such as water quality.  You will provide direct turtle care and maintain the tanks they live in.

Duties include:

  • monitoring tanks for cleanliness and safety
  • judging turtle health
  • monitoring turtles during outside swim
  • Follow and handle turtles as they walk outside, ensuring turtle safety
  • catching aquatic insects and feeding the turtles
  • reporting your experiences

Volunteer Qualifications:

  • Personable
  • Dependable and able to keep a consistent schedule
  • Able to bend and lift a 5-gallon bucket of water
  • Able to bend over and remain that way for a few minutes while manipulating items underwater
  • Confident in handling painted and snapping turtles (safety training provided)
  • Some aquarium experience is preferred, but not required
  • Willing to clean occupied turtle water and clean out used filters

Time Commitment:

  • Two to three days a week during the summer for at least an hour and a half, longer depending on the tasks that need to be accomplished
  • Three days a week during the rest of the year

Training provided (One and a half hour training):

  • Aquarium care and maintenance
  • Turtle health assessment and handling
  • Personal safety

For more information on how you can be a Turtle Care Volunteer, 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]

Directions: 

  • 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.

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volunteer

Visitor Center Greeter at Sibley State Park

(Southern MN)

Do you love state parks? Do you want to spread that love? If so, a Visitor Center Greeter is just the volunteer position for you!

The Visitor Center Greeter is the smiling face that welcomes visitors and shows them where trail maps, exhibits and rental equipment can all be found. The greeter will also help with checking out equipment and answering questions that visitors have.

  • Training is provided.
  • Shifts are 2-4 hours long.  
  • A smile and enjoyment of sharing the park with others is all that is required!

For more information on how you can be a greeter, 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]

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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.

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raccoon

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.

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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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people biking on a trail

Volunteer as a State Trail Monitor

(NE 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.

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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 2019 Campground Host Locations.    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.

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making cookies

Make 100 Tree Cookies

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

Attention: Aspiring and experienced woodworkers!
Help classroom teachers across Minnesota teach children how trees and other woody plants grow, factors that affect tree growth, and tree identification. Teachers love having sets of cookies like these in their classrooms but don’t have time or tools to make them.
We need volunteers to create "tree cookies" -- slices of branches or trunks that show the rings of a tree. 100 cookies supplies three classes of students, so the more you can make, the better. They will be used!
How to Make Tree Cookies:

  • Using branches or trunks that are between 3 to 6 inches in diameter, slice into ½-inch thick, wafer-shaped "cookies."
  • Wood having with easily readable rings are preferred. Ash wood not accepted.
  • 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.

You must provide your own tree or woody plant material, saws, sander, oven, varnish, and labor.

This project can be done individually or with a group (scouts, 4-H, FFA, Kiwanis, etc.). Eagle Scouts may be required to make larger quantities.

When finished contact Laura Duffey, 651-259-5263, [email protected] to arrange for delivery and to get Minnesota DNR recognition.

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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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schotzco

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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