Meet our Volunteers
Brush Hand-cutting Project on WMA: Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society and students of Vermillion Community College and Central Lakes College
Another great habitat project was done on a wildlife management area (WMA) this past March by 25 volunteers. Members of the Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society and hardworking natural resource students from Vermillion Community College in Ely and Central Lakes College in Brainerd took part in an annual Brush Day event, hand cutting small trees and brush opening up areas to improve habitat for sharp-tailed grouse and other open landscape wildlife species.
"We knocked down 9 acres of brush, small tamarack and black spruce trees on the Kimberly Marsh WMA near McGregor. The weather and conditions were awesome mainly because we didn't have to use snowshoes to get around like the year before! Thank you to this great group of volunteers!" said Dave Kanz, Assistant Area Wildlife Manager, Aitkin.
Precipitation Observer: Steve Reckers, New Hope
Steve Reckers, a retired state planner, has been a DNR Volunteer rain gage reader since 1975. As a volunteer for the National Weather Service, Steve has weather records as far back as 1968.
According to Pete Boulay, DNR Climatologist and head of the volunteer Precipitation Observers group, St Paul, “Steve has made over 16,000 weather observations over the past 47 years. His observations are of the highest quality and assist us with understanding Minnesota's climate.”
Thank you, Steve, for sharing your passion with MNDNR!
Leech Lake Volunteers
When asked to nominate an outstanding volunteer this past year, Matt Ward, Large Lake Specialist, Leech Lake, Walker, said, "Collectively all of our volunteers did a great job this year! On 20 different days we had 44 volunteers donating 238 hours to help us with the following:
- Seining (A large net with sinkers on one edge and floats on the other that hangs vertically in the water and is used to enclose and catch fish when its ends are pulled together or are drawn ashore.)
- Trawling (A method of fishing that involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind one or more boats. The net that is used for trawling is called a trawl.)
- Gill netting (A curtain-like net, suspended vertically in the water, with meshes of such a size as to catch a fish by the gills when it tries to thrust its head through.)
This year was more of a team effort and together we got the job done!"
Pictured here is DNR fisheries intern Ryan Handeland (in camo waders) and one of the volunteers, Steve Hornung, pulling gill nets on Leech Lake.
Invasive Species Removal: Rochester Community Education Program
Buckthorn, honeysuckle, parsnip, and garlic mustard were species targeted for removal on a wildlife management area (WMA) by a group of 10 - 15 year olds from the Rochester Community Education Program. This group of volunteers offered up 2 hours/day for 3 days per week to total 700 hours in invasive species removal on the Gordon Yeager WMA.
"It was quite amazing to see the work that this age group accomplished and how they teamed up to tackle the project instead of working alone. They received a brief introduction to why invasive species were bad and proceeded to compete for the largest buckthorn pulled with a Weed Wrench. It was a very cool experience and I thank them for their work!" says Gretchen Miller, Assistant Area Wildlife Manager, Gordon Yeager WMA, near Rochester.
Making Tree Cookies for PLT: Patrick Bonifacio
Donating 279 volunteer hours, Patrick Bonifacio made 500 tree cookies from 9 different species of trees this past year for the Project Learning Tree (PLT) Program.
According to Laura Duffey, Project Learning Tree/Planning Specialist, "Patrick took logs to a lumberyard to be professionally kiln-dried, sawed the cookies, stained, and labeled all of them. The cookies will be used by the Project Learning Tree Program and given to teachers across the state who are teaching about trees."
Thank you, Patrick, for volunteering your skills with us!