Volunteering - special programs

Meet our Volunteers

Volunteers for the DNR

Summer 2017

Gary Ratham

Pollinator Champion – Gary Ratham, Comfrey

Gary Ratham and his wife are frequent campers of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park who enjoy the spring wildflowers each year. Their love of nature has extended to establishing a prairie on their own property and placing several bee houses for pollinator bees. 

Gary has experimented with designing bee houses in both his shop and in the field.  The baffle on the post rotates the house when the wind blows, making this model more heavily used than those in a stationary position.  He uses the hollow stems of various plants as tubes that can be changed out every year after the bees leave in early spring.  He paints them sunflower yellow and coneflower purple to attract the bees.

The houses are not for sale -he donates them.  His most recent donation is pictured here at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.  This bee house will be placed in the landscaping outside the Visitor Center to attract the pollinator bees and draw attention to the declining populations of these wildflower pollinators. 

Thank you, Gary, for helping to protect native bees!

Diane Carlson

Volunteer LoonWatcher Survey, Office Support - Diane Carlson, Brainerd

After taking full advantage of the first few years of retirement by staying away from work, DNR retiree Diane Carlson has since returned to the same office in Brainerd as a volunteer to provide support for the Nongame Wildlife Program.  She works primarily on the Volunteer LoonWatcher Survey.  Diane inputs data into the survey database, maintains files with original survey forms and maps, and assists with the annual mailing of survey materials to over 800 volunteers located across the state. 

Diane’s other volunteer accomplishments include the creation of a budget tracking spreadsheet for donations to the Brainerd Nongame Wildlife Gift Account, assisting with the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program for the Aitkin/Crow Wing index area, and completion of additional office tasks as needed.  Diane also delivers delicious homemade cookies to share with everyone when she arrives at the office to do her work.  Diane is a great worker and joy to be around!

Thank you, Diane, for sharing your skills and love of nature!


Diane Carlson

FiN Program – Ben Joppa, Wayzata

Ben Joppa has volunteered consistently 3 days per week with the Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) Program since November of 2016.  He has helped mend bluegill & catfish harvest nets, maintain fishing gear, prepare age structures from 2016 fish surveys and helped deliver ice fishing events in Scott County over the winter. Ben is also active with trail maintenance within the Eagle Creek Aquatic Management Area.
Thank you, Ben, for being such an outstanding fisheries volunteer!

Scanning and Office Assistance – Linda Urbik, Sauk Rapids

Linda Urbik is a great addition to the Sauk Rapids DNR office! Working in Ecological and Water Resources, she has freed up staff to work on other projects by volunteering to assist with office duties such as large scanning projects, adding attachments and documents to previous projects, and shredding.  Linda accomplishes tasks in a very timely fashion and is a wonderful conversationalist visiting with everyone when she is there.
Thank you, Linda, for being part of our team!

What do DNR Volunteers do?

Download the 2016 DNR Volunteer Annual Report (PDF) for a listing of all the different kinds of projects volunteers do throughout the state.

Since creating a department-wide DNR Volunteer Program in 1982, citizens have engaged in more than 11 million hours of volunteer service focused on managing our state's natural resources.

How does Minnesota rank for volunteering?

Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

Minnesotans show a passion for volunteering - Fox 9 News, 6/28/17

Want to Volunteer with Us?

Current volunteer opportunities now open for this season »