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






Candlelight Walk at Browns Creek State Trail, Stillwater – Oct 18

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Enjoy a beautiful crisp fall day in sparkling candlelight by volunteering to help place and light luminaries along Brown's Creek State Trail for the Candlelight Walk on Friday, October 18, 2019.

The portion of Browns Creek State Trail between Neal Ave to Lofton Ave, just west of Stillwater, will be lit with hundreds of candles to create a special evening walk along this beautiful trail.  Parking is located about 1 mile south of Hwy 96 on Neal Ave.

Situated on a former railroad grade, the trail is generally level and accessible to users of all abilities. The trail connects to local park and trail systems.

Volunteer to be part of this special event by selecting a shift:

  • 3:30-6:30 p.m. place and light luminaries (candles) along the trail
  • 8:30-10:00 p.m. to pick up the luminaries
  • 3-5 volunteers are needed each shift

If interested, please contact Linda Radimecky, Area Interpretive Naturalist, Afton State Park, at [email protected] or call 651-231-6968.



Minnesota combined charities logo

Event Planner – Combined Charities Campaign

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Hone your skills as an event planner by assisting with the coordination of the DNR’s Annual Combined Charities events held in St Paul. The Minnesota Combined Charities Campaign is a program that allows state employees to give at work to the charities they support.  All events will be be held in the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Rd, St Paul over the lunch hour. Basic training is provided.

Working with members of the Combined Charities Committee, you will:

  • Schedule and coordinate meetings
  • Assist in setting up weekly events throughout the month of October

Time commitment:

  • A minimum of 12 hours for event setup and attendance
  • Additional time needed for planning (flexible hours)

Experience in the following is desired:

  • Scheduling and coordinating meetings
  • Planning and organizing events
  • Using Word and Excel

For more information, contact Toni Golden, Accounts Payable Supervisor, St. Paul at 651-259-5566 or email [email protected]


Fall in the woods

Fall Festival Oct 5 and More!

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Get involved as a volunteer in a variety of recreational activities scheduled this fall at Lake Carlos State Park near Alexandria!

Fall Festival- Saturday, October 5, 2019 (11 AM – 3 PM)

Enjoy the rich colors of fall while learning about the history of the park and those who came before us.

  • Help run or instruct one of the multiple stations such as:
    • Harvest Games- Apple on a string or tug of war
    • Dutch Oven Cooking Demonstrations
    • Archery in the Park
    • Butter Making
    • Apple Bobbing
    • Fall Arts and Crafts
    • And much more!
  • Special Skills Needed - Looking for volunteers with these specials skills to share with park visitors such as:
    • Whittling
    • Carving
    • Spinning
    • Crank socks (circular sock knitting machines made in North America from 1850s to 2015)
    • Soap making
    • Blacksmithing

Kids Programs:

Help out with one of the many weekly school group programs (weekends and some weekdays available.)  Topics vary from prairie and forest ecology, birds, and mammals to history. Props and outlines for instruction will be provided. These nature-based programs make visits meaningful and will ultimately impact the way children and their families value our natural resources. Public speaking and/or experience presenting nature-based programs is desired.

Woodworking and Other Projects:
Help us plan, measure, cut, and construct items like traveling desks, tree cookies, lantern boxes, bird feeder kits, and more. Skills and experience in construction and woodworking is desired.

For more information contact Ben Eckhoff, Naturalist, Lake Carlos State Park, 2601 County Road 38 NE, Carlos, MN 56319 at (320) 852-7471 x227 or email  [email protected]

Directions: The park entrance is located 10 miles north of Alexandria on State Highway 29, then 2 miles west on Highway 38.


peregrine falcon

Support Nongame Wildlife

(Metro Area and Central MN)

Share your technical skills by supporting the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program with its donation program and organizing its electronic documents. The Nongame Wildlife Program works to help over 700 species of Minnesota wildlife thrive.  If you like loons, eagles, osprey, peregrine falcons, trumpeter swans, bluebirds, turtles, frogs and more, this is the program for you!

Volunteer to:

  • Assist in personally acknowledging and thanking all who make a direct or significant donation to the program
  • Create thank you letters or post cards
  • Create a spreadsheet to track correspondence
  • Send out thank-you notes to nongame donors
  • Scan and save documents with historical significance

Qualifications Desired:

  • Computer skills sufficient to use MS Word to create letters
  • Some experience with scanning, copying and storing documents

Time Commitment:

  • 8-10 hours per week for three months
  • Days and times are flexible: Monday – Friday between the hours of 8 AM – 4:30 PM
  • All work to take place at the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Rd, St Paul unless other arrangements are made.

Training will be provided on how to use state computers, printers, and scanners. Inquire about volunteer reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.

For more information, contact Lori Naumann, Nongame Information Officer at 651-259-5148 or email [email protected]


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.


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 (through 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.


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


  • 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.



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.



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.



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.


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!


people biking on a trail

Be 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 April to October at a Minnesota State Park operated campground. 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!

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 with naturalist programs by:

  • posting and distributing schedules
  • publicizing programs
  • helping with programs

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, practicing good housekeeping at all times in and around the host site, and by observing all rules.

Read more about the Campground Host Program.  Check out the listing of which parks are still looking for hosts in 2019.  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)

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.


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!


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

The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is managed by the University of Minnesota Extension.



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, the process begins online:  Get started now! And check out upcoming safety instructor courses.  There is no fee to attend.


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 .