Summer 2024 volunteering opportunities

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Minnesota State Fair Volunteer Positions

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 2-3 hours.
  • Parking and meals will be your responsibility.
  • All volunteers must pass a background check and safety quiz.

Volunteer positions we are filling include:

  • Wildfire Prevention Volunteer
  • Invasive Species Display
  • Greeters and Rovers
  • Wildlife Wing Interpreter

Go to the 2024 MN State Fair Volunteer Positions webpage and follow the web link cited at the end of each position to sign up.

volunteer holding a zebra mussel

Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program: June 28 - July 8, 2024

Help track Minnesota’s loon population! Now celebrating its 31st 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 and Monday July 8, 2024.

Detailed instructions, training materials, maps, volunteer application forms and a data sheet will be sent to you. Volunteers must commit to completing assigned lake(s) within the specified time frame and returning completed survey materials.

baby loon riding on its mothers back.

Here is what it takes to be a Loon Monitor

  • Complete the survey on one (1) morning between June 28 – July 8, 2024.
  • 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:

  • Aitkin or Crow Wing Counties: Contact Karen McLennan, Brainerd, 218-203-4352, [email protected]
  • Becker or Otter Tail Counties: Contact Kristie Brezina, Fergus Falls, 218‐671‐7977, [email protected]
  • Cook, Itasca, or Lake Counties: Contact Bryonna Persing, Eveleth, 218-735-3962, [email protected]
  • Kandiyohi County: Contact Dorie Tess, New Ulm, 507-233-1250, [email protected]

Wild River State Park Visitor Center Host

Become part of the Wild River State Park team sharing your smile and interest in nature with others as you welcome them to the visitor center. Wild River State Park is located near Center City, Minnesota.

As a Visitor Center Host, you will:

  • Learn all about the park so you may recommend trails based on visitor interests, answer basic questions about the features, plants, and wildlife in the park.
  • Offer visitors nature carts about a variety of topics related to the park.

view of the inside the visitor center

Other duties include:

  • Organize and help maintain naturalist program gear, equipment, and facilities such as exhibits and the nature center area.
  • Assist with archiving, sorting, scanning, and organizing interpretive materials of photos, articles, and slides.
  • Keep the library shelves organized.

Training will be provided, so no prior knowledge is necessary.

Special projects are also available as they fit the volunteer’s interest and abilities.

Time commitment to be a host:

  • Shifts are Saturday 9 a.m. – 12 noon, Saturday 12 noon – 3 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. – 12 noon.
  • Please be available at least 1 shift per month from June - October. If you must skip a month, you may sign up for 2 shifts another month. 

Sign up:

  • Complete a Visitor Center Host application
    • Select your day and 3-hour time slot on the schedule.
      • Shifts go all the way to October 20; click the “get more shifts” button to see them all or use the “Filter” feature to filter by available shifts.
      • There is a maximum of 2 volunteers per shift.

Contact Sean Hoppes, Interpretive Naturalist, Wild River State Park, Parks and Trails Division, 39797 Park Trail, Center City, MN 55012, at 651-583-2125 x227 or email [email protected]

Zebra mussel monitoring program

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 and do online reporting.

volunteer holding a zebra mussel

Campground host program - 2024

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live or work in a state park? Well, why not find out?

For over 30 years, volunteers have served as "live-in" hosts at Minnesota state parks or state forest campgrounds. If you enjoy the great outdoors, scenic vistas, and the company of other campers, then consider being a host anytime from April to October. Length of time, 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!

campground host at split rock lighthouse shipwreck creek

As a Campground Host, you will generally work independently. You are accountable to the park manager who will provide training and orientation and will assist you throughout the season with any questions or problems that may arise. You will set an example by being a model camper, always practicing good housekeeping in and around the host site, and by observing all rules.

Read more about the Campground Host Program. 2024 campground host openings are now posted.

Applications are accepted all year long but must be received at least 30 days prior to the date you wish to begin serving as a host.

Email your questions to [email protected] (link sends email) or call 888-MINNDNR (888-646-6367) or in the Metro area call 651-259-5607.

Note: Campground Hosts are selected from applications that have been satisfactorily completed and submitted in a timely manner. Interviews are 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 at the time of selection. This also applies to hosts returning from the previous season.

MN PlantWatch

Contribute to plant conservation science by surveying rare plants with the MN PlantWatch Program.  Opportunities are available throughout the entire state of Minnesota. Together we hope to update old records and find new populations! This program is a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

We are looking for volunteers who are:

  • Enthusiastic about plants and comfortable identifying plants in nature, or willing to learn
  • Interested and able to visit some of the tricky places that rare plants inhabit, including bluff prairies, bogs, fens and forests 
  • Familiar with field survey work and understand the importance of high-quality data collection
  • Comfortable working outdoors alongside MN PlantWatch staff and other volunteers

To learn more about MN PlantWatch, please visit the program website.

two people flagging plants.

Volunteer as a State Trail Monitor

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/

two bike riders on a state trail

Rainfall Monitor

Volunteer as a rainfall monitor for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) coordinated through the state climatology office in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The network includes more than 20,000 volunteers nationwide who measure precipitation in their backyards using a standard 4-inch diameter rain gauge and submit their reports online. The program also collects snowfall and reports hail among other weather observations. The data is used by the National Weather Service, researchers, cities, and a wide range of industries.

night sky lit up with lightning

Data provided by volunteers:

  • Verifies high rainfall totals after big events
  • Provides critical information during flooding events
  • Monitors drought conditions
  • Provides needed guidance on Minnesota's changing climate

To become a weather observer, you must:

  • Have internet access to submit reports by computer or using the CoCoRaHS Observer weather app on your smartphone
  • Provide or purchase a standard 4-inch rain gauge (discounts are available through CoCoRaHS)
  • Complete online training on how to observe weather trends and how to submit precipitation and weather event reports online
  • Commit to submitting reports for at least one season

Volunteers are particularly needed in Greater Minnesota outside the Twin Cities metro area.

To sign up:

Join our weather team today!

Adopt-a-WMA program

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 wildlife managers.

State wildlife management area sign

Time Commitment:

  • Projects 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

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
  • Maintain forest openings

Level 3: (volunteer work requiring certifications/licenses, training or close supervision)

  • Using power tools
  • Chainsaw work
  • Mowing noxious weeds
  • Mowing prescribed fire breaks
  • Mowing hunter walking trails
  • Helping with a prescribed burn

NOTE: 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  or maps of Assistant Area Wildlife Managers and Area Wildlife Managers. Contact them to find out how you can adopt a WMA!

Get physical on a Scientific and Natural Area

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

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

Projects are typically carried out on Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 p.m., unless otherwise noted, on many weekends throughout the year. Refer to SNA events calendar for the most up-to-date information.

Take a look at volunteering on SNAs to see how you can come lend a hand!

two people burning a brush pile.

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

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

man holding his dog on a dock by a gauge.

Volunteer safety instructors

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.

Find out more about how to become a DNR Certified Volunteer Safety Instructor.

If you would like to receive an automatic e-mail of any new instructor training sessions, sign up for the instructor e-mail list.

person sitting on snowmbile

Sign up for updates  

Text MNDNR VOLUNTEER to 66468 to subscribe to text updates.

Safety guidelines

Please refer to the Volunteer Safety Resources webpage training.

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