Volunteering opportunities

Click the following to find a volunteering opportunity in your area:

Metro area and Central MN

Northwestern MN

Northeastern MN

Southern MN








riverboat and volunteersRiverboat Clean-Up Event - Wednesday, July 16 (rescheduled after June flooding)

(Metro Area and Central MN)


Join us for the 2014 Great Mississippi River Cleanup on Wednesday, July 16. Arrive at Harriet Island in St Paul by 7:45 a.m. Help clean sections of the Mississippi River between Ft. Snelling and South St Paul after disembarking from the riverboat Jonathan Padelford. Volunteers must be in good health, able to follow specific directions, and must be 11 years of age or older. Volunteers under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or other adult with written authorization to make medical decisions for the minor.


Keep in mind that this is a rain-or-shine, hot-or-cold event. Provide your own personal gear, including rain protection, hat, long pants, thick-soled shoes or rubber boots, insect and tick repellent, and sun screen. You will be transported from the riverboat by small watercraft into potentially rugged areas that may include mud, loose rocks, standing water, briars, and biting insects (thus cover your skin). After the cleanup, you will return to the Jonathan Padelford to join us for lunch and return to Harriet Island by 2:30 PM.


Advanced registration is required by July 9. Registered volunteers will be confirmed by email prior to the event. Contact the DNR Adopt-a-River Program at (651) 259-5620 or email adoptariver.dnr@state.mn.us for a registration form. When capacity reached, you will be placed on a waiting list and be advised of other possible cleanups this summer or fall.




zebra musselsInvasive Species Unit Volunteer

(Metro Area and Central MN)


Assist the Invasive Species Unit with creating educational and demonstration materials. Volunteers will work with both the Aquatic Invasive Species Training Coordinator and Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist to preserve teaching specimens of a variety of invasive plant and animal species. This project will involve using 2-part epoxy to create molds around samples of zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil, and more. Training is available and volunteers must have attention to detail and the ability to follow directions. Up to 10 volunteers are needed for this project.


Volunteers are needed beginning in mid-June based on weather/plant growth and staff/volunteer availability. This work will be done on weekdays at the DNR Central Region Headquarters, 1200 Warner Road, Saint Paul, MN 55106.


For more information contact April Rust, Aquatic Invasive Species Training Coordinator, Saint Paul, at 651-259-5706 or email april.rust@state.mn.us




red foxBotany and Zoology Data Conversion

(Metro Area and Central MN)


Assist the Division of Ecological and Water Resources Data Management Team with converting old plant and animal paper records to digital files to free up space and make these records more easily accessible. Documents to scan include field surveys, maps and reports that are valuable in tracking plant and animal communities across the state.


The digital files need to be labeled appropriately and saved in a logical format. Volunteers will need to be organized and pay attention to details. This type of volunteer works requires people to be familiar with the operation of scanning and/or office equipment, Adobe Acrobat software, basic computer operation and have a working knowledge of Windows Explorer folder/file management system.  Basic training will be provided.


All work must be done at the DNR State Headquarters at 500 Lafayette Rd, St Paul, MN 55155, Monday through Friday, at least 2 hours per week between the hours of 8 AM – 4:30 PM. Parking is free and the office is on the bus line. The project should take up to 4 volunteers to complete.


For more information contact Amy Westmark, Zoology Data Specialist, 500 Lafayette Road, Saint Paul, MN 55101 at 651-259-5163 or email amy.westmark@state.mn.us







girls fishingShare your Outdoors Passion at Lake Carlos State Park



Sculpted by ancient glaciers, Lake Carlos State Park contains a tamarack bog, marshes, woodland ponds, and lakes. Come visit and get involved as a volunteer in a variety of recreational activities scheduled for this summer.

  • Fishing Frenzy Fridays: Promote fishing and caring for our water resources by working with children and/or families to teach the basic skills of fishing including safety, line casting, knot tying, baiting hooks, and taking fish off the hook, as well as identifying fish species and their habitats. One to two volunteers will help instruct and oversee a small group of participants during shoreline fishing scheduled for Fridays during the summer, June 13 through August 29, 2014.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, Saturday, June 14: This nationwide initiative is focused on getting people outdoors.  On this day we have multiple events going on to help people find something they like to do outdoors like geocaching, paddle boarding, canoeing, hiking, and so on. Volunteer duties may include things like giving directions to different areas in the park, teaching geocaching, helping out in the visitor center with greeting people and answering other questions they have.

For more information contact Ben Eckhoff, Naturalist, Lake Carlos State Park, 2601 County Road 38 NE, Carlos, MN 56319 at (320) 852-7471 or email  Benjamin.Eckhoff@state.mn.us


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







turtleTheme Weekend Volunteers



Use your experience and knowledge of wildlife, local history, and/or outdoor skills to help park naturalists at St Croix State Park with programs, hikes and crafts on designated weekends this summer.


Theme weekend programming will include:

  • Ectothermathon Weekend (June 20-22) (Note: Ectotherms are cold-blooded creatures)
  • Outdoor Independence Weekend (July 4-6)
  • Park Heritage Days Weekend (July 25-27)
  • Mammal Jam Weekend (August 22-24)

Volunteers must be willing to talk to and help park visitors, be good with children, self-motivated and knowledgeable on the theme topic of the weekend. Skills in wildlife watching, bird and frog counting, face painting, crafts or wood working are desired. Training will be provided. Time commitment needed is at least 10 hours over the summer. Volunteers will be working directly with the public under the supervision of the park naturalists.


For more information contact Megan Johnsen, Naturalist, St. Croix State Park, 30065 St. Croix Park Rd, Hinckley, MN 55037 at 320-384-6615 or email  Megan.johnsen@state.mn.us









volunteerVolunteer at Whitewater State Park

(Southern MN)


Picturesque limestone bluffs and deep ravines make Whitewater a very popular southeastern state park. Enjoy the view and take part in the following volunteer opportunity offered here:


2nd Annual Parsnip Pull, Saturday June 21: Work with a group of volunteers to pull wild parsnip from heavy use areas of the park.  This is a service project combined with a fun social atmosphere as lunch is provided. This year there will be activities and entertainment focused on invasive species. No experience is necessary, but volunteers must be able to bend over and carry spades, shovels or other tools necessary for removing parsnips.  An unlimited number of volunteers can be involved, so invite your friends and bring a group!




For more information contact Sara Grover, Lead Interpretive Naturalist, Whitewater State Park, 19041 Hwy 74, Altura MN 55910 at 507-932-3007 ext 226 or email Sara.grover@state.mn.us 





girl and smokeyState Fair Opportunities at the DNR Park

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


The State Fair is coming to St. Paul, August 21 – September 1, 2014 and YOU can be a part of it!


Each year thousands visit the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Building and Park to see fish, birds, to learn more about their favorite lakes, parks, trails, and to see exhibits on various DNR Programs.  The DNR needs assistance with a variety of booths and positions.  The volunteer time commitment is at least one day for 4-6 hours depending on the job.  Admission tickets to the fair will be provided for each day volunteering! 


Instructions and fair information will be sent about 1 week prior to the fair.  Parking and meals will be the responsibility of the person volunteering. Volunteer half the day and go see the fair the rest of the day! 


See http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteering/statefair.html   (State Fair Volunteers) for details on the positions needing help.







Play Clean Go logoPlayCleanGo Day – June 14 

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


PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species In Your Tracks is pleased to announce the 2nd annual PlayCleanGo Day on June 14, 2014 at 13 participating park locations around Minnesota.


PlayCleanGo Day coincides with National Get Outdoors Day and State Park Open House Day and we invite you to join in the celebration at one of the following:


Three volunteers are needed to assist at each park between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Volunteers will talk to park visitors about the PlayCleanGo outreach campaign, terrestrial invasive species and simple prevention steps to avoid spreading harmful pests. There will be handouts and boot brushes for adults, and temporary tattoos for kids. There will be short tours of invasive plants where there is easy access to existing infestations. Site specific resources will include a map of infested areas and laminated photos of the species present.


PlayCleanGo volunteers need a basic understand of terrestrial invasive species and the threat they pose to the state's natural resources. Talking points and a reference folder will be provided to assist with questions that may come up. Volunteers need to get to their designated location and bring water, snack, sunscreen and bug repellent. Volunteers will be given a PlayCleanGo ball cap, tee-shirt and poncho to use on site and take home with them.


One of the three volunteers at each location will serve as the Go-To Person. Ideally, these people will be PlayCleanGo partners, prior PlayCleanGo volunteers, Master Naturalists, Woodland Advisors or an active participant in a similar volunteer program. These volunteers need to arrive at their location by 10:30 a.m. to set up the table. They will coordinate breaks, and at sites where field tours of invasive plants are feasible, organize periodic tours between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (the tour leader can be any three volunteers). At 3 p.m., the Go-To Person will also be responsible for packing up any remaining supplies and returning them to park staff. The other volunteers will assist in these efforts.


If you are interested in serving as a Go-To Person for a particular park, please visit the link below and select the park where you'd like to assist. https://doodle.com/yky24m62k27s4zfz


If you are interested in volunteering in one of the other two volunteer positions, please visit this link and select your favorite park location. https://doodle.com/dt2ve6pihwcmdnkd


Volunteer positions are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have any questions, please contact For more information, contact Susan Burks, Forestry Invasive Species Program Coordinator, St Paul at 651-259-5251 or email Susan.burks@state.mn.us . Once signed up, you will be sent some forms to fill out and return, along with the PlayCleanGo talking points.





gooseberry fallsShare Your Best Shots

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


Expand your outdoor photography! The DNR Parks and Trails Outreach section is looking for beautiful and scenic photos of Minnesota State Parks and Trails. Volunteers that are willing to share their photos of recreating in a Minnesota state park or trail will help expand the current DNR photo library and provide updated photos for publications, advertisements, the website and social media. Your photos have a chance of making it into print!


Here's all you have to do:

  • Take high-resolution (300 dpi) digital images of recreation opportunities in Minnesota State Parks and Trails.
  • Upload photos to the DNR photo uploader to share your best shots!

Volunteers must have access to a digital camera that takes high-resolution images, Internet accessibility to upload the photos and be familiar with Minnesota State Parks and Trails. The time commitment for this project would vary depending on how involved the volunteer would like to be. The bulk of the time would be spent traveling to a Minnesota State Park or Trail, taking photos and then uploading them to the DNR public photo site.


For more information, contact Claire Gahler, Communications Project Specialist, Parks and Trails Division, St Paul at 651-259-5647 or email Claire.Gahler@state.mn.us.





loonMinnesota Loon Monitoring Program

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


Volunteers across the state are needed to track Minnesota's loon population. Now in its 21st year, the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program will assign you to a pre-selected lake to count the number of loons you see on one morning between June 27 and July 7, 2014.


Detailed instructions, training materials, maps, and a data form will be provided. Time commitment is 2-4 hours per lake. Surveys must be done sometime between 5:00 a.m.-12:00 noon. Volunteers must commit to completing assigned lake(s) within the specified time frame.


Call or e-mail the following DNR Regional Nongame Wildlife staff to be assigned to a lake(s) in one of the listed counties:




volunteersOver 200 Opportunities to be a Campground Host This Summer 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 May to October at a Minnesota State Park campground.


A host's primary responsibility is to assist campers by answering questions and explaining campground rules in a cheerful and helpful manner.  Campground Host volunteers should be familiar with state park campground rules, perform light maintenance work around the campground such as litter pickup, sweeping, stocking supplies in toilet buildings and making 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.


Check the list of Minnesota State Parks looking for Campground Hosts for 2014.


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.  Email your questions to campground.host@state.mn.us  or call 888- MINNDNR (888-646-6367) or in the Metro area call 651-259-5607.


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 cookiesTree Cookies as Educational Tools

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


Project Learning Tree (PLT) program is a natural resources education program for teachers across Minnesota. PLT needs volunteers to create "tree cookies" as teaching aides for teachers to use with their students. Tree cookies are slices of branches or trunks that show the rings of a tree. They are used to teach children how trees and other woody plants grow, environmental factors affecting tree growth, tree identification, and more. Teachers often don't have the time or capability to make these so volunteer help is greatly appreciated!


Slice the branches or trunk into half-inch thick, wafer-shaped "cookies" that are between three to six inches in diameter. Sand the surfaces until the rings appear. Finish the surfaces with clear varnish. "Interesting" cookies with easily readable rings are preferred (e.g. cookies that show history of disease, disturbance, or other story).


Labeling cookie species and location harvested is optional, but appreciated. This project can be done individually or with a group (scouts, 4-H, FFA, Kiwanis, etc.) You must provide your own tree or woody plant material, saws, sander, oven, varnish, and labor.


Tree Cookies - How to Make Your Own


When finished contact Laura Duffey, Project Learning Tree Coordinator, at 651-259-5263 or email laura.duffey@state.mn.us to arrange for delivery to site and to get Minnesota DNR recognition! 100 cookies are enough for about three classes. So the more you can make, the better! They will be used!





prairie flowersState Natural Areas Assistance

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


State scientific and natural areas (SNA) are the premier state lands displaying examples of native prairies, old growth forests, geological features and habitat for rare and endangered species. The state natural areas program needs volunteers to work on projects at natural areas throughout the state. Projects are typically carried out on Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, unless otherwise noted, many weekends throughout the year. Activities include prairie and woodland seed collection, planting seedlings, removal of exotic species, pulling buckthorn, and cutting and burning brush such as sumac.


These activities and other events posted on the SNA Program Events Calendar.





minnesota master naturalist logoMinnesota Master Naturalist Training

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


Any adult who is curious and enjoys learning about the natural world, shares that knowledge with others, and supports conservation can be a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. If you enjoy hiking, bird watching, following tracks, or identifying wildflowers, you'll love being a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer! Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers are a motivated group of fun and interesting people: teachers, retired professionals, nature guides, hunters, eco-tour operators, farmers, and...YOU!


To learn more visit www.MinnesotaMasterNaturalist.org . The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a joint effort of the University of Minnesota Extension and the MN Department of Natural Resources.





volunteersAdopt-a-River Program

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


The Adopt-a-River program encourages Minnesota volunteers to "adopt" a section of a lake, river, wetland, ditch or ravine to ensure its long-term health through annual cleanups. Get involved!







lake level mnLake Level Minnesota volunteering… doing your level best!

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


Whether it is floods, droughts, or just a normal year, lake level fluctuations (or the lack of them) are important to document. Lake levels are recorded on a regular basis, thanks to the efforts of volunteer observers. These volunteers are joining with the Minnesota Department of natural Resources to create permanent, credible, public lake level records.


Find out more about the Lake Level Minnesota program and Check lake levels with the LakeFinder





loonVolunteer LoonWatcher survey

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


Volunteers that live on lakes or regularly visit lakes can participate in the Minnesota Volunteer LoonWatcher Survey as a volunteer "loon watcher". Loon watchers report on their lake at the end of the season providing information on nesting success, number of loons observed, interesting occurrences and problems that may negatively affect the loons. Anyone with an interest in loons can join this program and choose a lake to report on. Some volunteers have been in this program for many years. For more information about the Minnesota Volunteer Loon Survey contact Kevin Woizeschke at Kevin.Woizeschke@state.mn.us or 218-833-8729.





zebra musselsZebra 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 killing native mussels, limiting recreational activities, clogging water supply pipes, and competing with larval fish for food. You can provide important help tracking their distribution in Minnesota by spending a few minutes monitoring the lake or river where you live without any specialized equipment. 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.





safety classVolunteer Safety Instructors

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


Consider becoming a Certified Volunteer Safety Instructor in Firearms, Bowhunter Education, Snowmobile, ATV, or 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. During the instructor training, applicants will learn about policy and procedures, teaching concepts, use of training aids and youth classroom training techniques.


Check current certified volunteer instructor classes or sign up for our instructor e-mail list to receive notification of any additional instructor training sessions.


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. All applicants for any of the DNR safety programs must also complete the forms online and attend a volunteer instructor training course. There is no fee to attend.


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.