Volunteering opportunities

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

Metro area and Central MN

Northwestern MN

Northeastern MN

Southern MN






girl fishingOnline Photo Organizing of DNR Invasive Species Photos

(Metro and Central MN)

Help us sort through a collection of DNR aquatic invasive species (AIS) photos such as zebra mussels, carp, Eurasian watermilfoil, etc. to sort, tag, and organize them for easier use. We have many files with different categories of photos that need going through.

Duties would include:

  • sorting the photos by subject, ownership, and print quality
  • Creating an organized, easy-to-maintain filing system for the originals and a sub-set of high quality, DNR-owned photos to use in outreach and communications

This project is estimated to take about 40 hours to complete. We prefer that it be done within a 1 to 3 week period of time. The documents cannot be removed from the office, so all work would have to happen during regular business hours of Monday - Friday, 8 AM - 4:30 PM at the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Rd N, St Paul. Lunch is provided if you volunteer more than 4 hours on a given day.

If you are meticulous and focused, have an eye for good photo composition, can tag photo files and enjoy sorting and organizing digital photos ? this job is for you!

For more information contact April Rust, AIS Training Coordinator, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, at 651-259-5706 or email april.rust@state.mn.us




girl fishingShare your Outdoors Passion at Lake Carlos State Park

(Metro and Central MN)

Get involved as a volunteer in a variety of recreational activities scheduled this summer at Lake Carlos State Park:


  • Kids and Family Programs: Help run or instruct one of the multiple stations set up during our larger events (like National Get Outdoors Day) or help out with one of the many weekly programs (weekends and some weekdays available.)  Topics vary from wetland ecology 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.
  • 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
    • taking fish off the hook
    • 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 12 through August 28, 2015.


  • Wood Working and Other Projects: Help us plan, measure, cut, and construct items like traveling desks, tree cookies, lantern boxes, bird feeder kits, and more from June - August. Skills and experience in construction and wood working is desired.


  • Visitor Center Staffing: Welcome park visitors to the center, promote things to do in the center and upcoming programs, answer questions, and maintain a welcoming environment for all.  Skills and experience in customer service, familiarity of the park, and the natural world 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 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.




Forest Pest PatchShoreline Garbage Clean-up on Lake Pepin

(Metro and Central MN)


Walk along the shoreline of Lake Pepin to pick up trash in Frontenac State Park. Bags, gloves, pickers, and reflective safety vests will be provided.  From 1 – 10 people are needed at least one day from June – October.  We'd like to have one clean-up day per month, if possible.


Clean-up will happen at Sand Point, a bay and peninsula along Lake Pepin within Frontenac State Park. This area has a tendency to collect floating debris and trash from the Mississippi River and requires regular cleaning. Sand Point is a major migratory bird flyway and refuge, so keeping it clean is vital to the birds' health.


For more information contact Nadine Meyer, Assistant Park Manager, Frontenac State Park, 29223 County 28 Blvd, Frontenac, MN 55026 at 651-345-3401 or email Nadine.meyer@state.mn.us .


Frontenac State Park is located approximately 10 miles SE of Red Wing on Highway 61 or 5 miles northwest of Lake City, then 1 mile north on County Road 2.




pulling garlic mustardOut with the Bad and in with the Good!

(Metro Area and Central MN)


Get your hands dirty by helping us pull invasive (bad) plants and buckthorn saplings out of the ground so we can make way to put in native (good) plants that wildlife need for food and shelter! Located along an interesting river terrace, just below Mounds Parks and Warner Rd in St Paul, DNR staff will provide direction as to where and what needs to be done.


Bring your own gloves, hand trowels and pointed spades (shovels) to remove invasive plants like garlic mustard that tend to multiply and choke out the desired native plants. We have cleared much of the mature buckthorn, but we need to keep pulling saplings that sprout from the seed bank.


 Volunteer as an individual or in a group of up to 30 people for 2-6 hours. Time can be scheduled any day of the week, including evenings and weekends. You must be physically capable of working on uneven ground and plant identification skills are helpful, but not required. 


Your work will clear out the bad plants so that urban youth groups can come in later to re-plant the area with native plants that are good for wildlife.


For more information on how you can get involved, contact Gina Bonsignore, DNR Regional Planner, 1200 Warner Rd, St Paul, MN 55106 at 651-259-5809 or email Regina.bonsignore@state.mn.us





Historical mining pictureBe a Part of Geological History!



The DNR Lands & Minerals office in Hibbing is home to several large collections of donated documents relating to past mining and geological exploration in our state. If you enjoy organizing (or sleuthing in this case!) and appreciate geology and/or Minnesota history – this volunteer position is for YOU!


Work closely with geologists to help:

  • sort
  • organize
  • catalog
  • shelve historical mining and exploration documents


We are in the midst of cataloging and sorting these documents in order to make them available online and easier for everyone to access. Once online, these documents will allow everyone understand Minnesota geology, mining, and exploration history – all of which is important academically, environmentally, and economically. We need your help to expedite this enormous task!


Volunteer for 2-3 hours per week minimum, anytime between 8 am - 4 pm, Monday-Friday, at the DNR Lands and Minerals Office, 1525 3rd Avenue East, Hibbing, MN 55746. This project does not have a specific end date.


Experience with Microsoft Excel and Word is desired, but not required. Training will be provided.


For more information, contact Andrea Reed, Mineral Resource Geologist, NE Region, Hibbing, at 218-231-8460 or email andrea.d.reed@state.mn.us





girl fishingLead a Summer Fishing Program



Five state parks in the northeast region of Minnesota are looking for volunteers to lead fishing programs this summer.  All of these parks have a large fishing pier and all the equipment needed to get visitors of all ages hooked on fishing!


Training will be provided, so little fishing experience is necessary.  Share your passion and excitement about fishing with others!


Fishing programs will be held Fridays or Saturdays in June, July and August with the option for other times throughout the year. All bait will either be provided or you will be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses to cover this.  Mileage reimbursement is negotiable.


Duties include:


  • welcoming people to the park and introducing them to fishing
  • rigging fishing poles (being able to tie and bait hooks)
  • holding and unhooking/releasing fish
  • answering questions about fish ID, basic fish ecology/biology, tackle uses, and other fishing opportunities in Minnesota.


These programs are typically set up as two-hour "roving" programs meaning you must be available for any visitors that show up to the pier looking to fish during that time.  Only one volunteer is needed per program, but teaming up with a friend or family member is welcome!


State Parks looking for help:


Bear Head Lake State Park
9301 Bear Head State Park Road
Ely, MN 55731

McCarthy Beach State Park
7622 McCarthy Beach Road
Side Lake, MN 55781

Moose Lake State Park
4252 County Road 137
Moose Lake, MN 55767

Savanna Portage State Park
55626 Lake Place
McGregor, MN 55760

Scenic State Park
56956 Scenic Hwy 7
Bigfork, MN 56628


For more information contact Kacie Carlson, Northeast Regional Naturalist, 1201 E Hwy 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 at 218-327-4410 or email Kacie.Carlson@state.mn.us





whitewater volunteerWild Parsnip Pull at Whitewater State Park – June 27

(Southern MN)


Why Do We Need to Pull Wild Parsnip?
Wild Parsnip is an invasive plant. It can cause phyto-photo dermatitis, a very painful and disfiguring blister on the skin. The plant is abundant throughout the park and poses a serious problem for campers and other park visitors.


How Can YOU Help?

Join us on Saturday, June 27 from 8 AM – 12 Noon to pull wild parsnips from the busiest areas in the park. Over the last several years, volunteers have pulled parsnip from campsites in the park and results show a dramatic drop in the number of parsnip plants sprouting up again.


Approximately 50 volunteers can be involved, so invite your friends and bring a group!


Working together, we can slow the spread of this invasive plant at Whitewater State Park!


 What to Bring?

  • a shovel
  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • water bottle
  • and wear a long sleeve shirt with pants tucked into long socks

The park will provide:

  • rubber gloves
  • and free lunch at noon! This will be a fun social event!


How to Sign Up?
Contact Sara Holger, park naturalist, Whitewater State Park, 19041 Hwy 74, Altura MN 55910, at sara.holger@state.mn.us  or call 507-932-3007 extension 226.




Henry Hopkins SibleyInterpretive Center Host at Sibley State Park

(Southern MN)


Greet the public and act as host of the Sibley State Park Interpretive Center for 2, 4 or more hours on any given day of the week during the summer!  The center is a great place to learn more about the park, its natural features of prairies and Mount Tom, as well as who was Henry Sibley that it's named after. Volunteer hosts can even conduct story time sessions if interested!


 Our goal is to have the building open 7 days a week with the focus on longer open hours Friday-Sunday. Volunteers will greet visitors and answer basic park questions. Training will be provided. Naturalists will be in charge of opening, closing and cleaning the center.


For more information on how you can be a host, contact Kelsey Olson, Lead Naturalist, Sibley State Park, 800 Sibley Park Rd NE, New London, MN 56273 at 320-354-2002 or email Kelsey.olson@state.mn.us




  • From St. Cloud, take State Hwy 23 to New London, then State Hwy 9 west to County Rd. 40. Then go west on County Rd. 40. Go one mile north on 71 to park entrance.
  • From Willmar, take US Hwy 71 north, 15 miles to the park entrance.




loonCount Loons One Morning

(Central, NW, NE, and Southern MN)


Volunteers across the state are needed to track Minnesota's loon population.  Now in its 22nd 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 26 and July 6, 2015


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. You must commit to completing an assigned lake(s) within the specified time frame. 


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


Becker or Otter Tail Counties: Contact Sherry Wright, Bemidji, 218-308-2620, sherry.wright@state.mn.us

Cook, Lake, or Itasca Counties: Contact Sarah Verke, Grand Rapids, 218-999-7808, sarah.verke@state.mn.us 

Aitkin or Crow Wing Counties: Contact Karen McLennan, Brainerd, 218-828-2605, karen.mclennan@state.mn.us

Kandiyohi County: Contact Dorie Tess, New Ulm, 507-359-6036, dorie.tess@state.mn.us




making cookiesMake 100 Tree Cookies

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


Help classroom teachers across Minnesota teach children how trees and other woody plants grow, factors that affect tree growth, tree identification, and more.  You can volunteer to create "tree cookies" which are slices of branches or trunks that show the rings of a tree.  100 cookies are enough for about three classes of students, so the more you can make, the better.  They will be used!


How to Make Tree Cookies:

  • Slice the branches or trunk into half-inch thick, wafer-shaped "cookies" that are between three to six inches in diameter.
  • "Interesting" cookies with easily readable rings are preferred (these show a history of disease, disturbance, or other story.)
  • 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.
  • Don't use wood from ash trees.

Detailed instructions found in Tree Cookies - How to Make Your Own This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.


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.


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 a school site and to get Minnesota DNR recognition.


Project Learning Tree (PLT) program is a natural resources education program for teachers across Minnesota. Teachers often don't have the time or capability to make these cookies so your help is greatly appreciated.




sna brush burningGet Physical on a State Natural Area

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


Collect prairie and woodland seeds, plant seedlings, pull buckthorn, and cut and burn brush such as sumac as part of a typical volunteer workday on a MN Scientific and Natural Area (SNA).  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. 


Volunteer activities and other events are posted on the SNA Program Events Calendar




minnesota master naturalist logoBe a Master Naturalist

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


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, and prairies.


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




volunteersAdopt-a-River Program

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


"Adopt" a section of a lake, river, wetland, ditch or ravine by doing an annual clean-up.  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. 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 




loonVolunteer LoonWatcher Survey

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


If you live on a lake or regularly visit a lake, and you have an interest in loons, you can be a volunteer "loon watcher" in the Minnesota Volunteer LoonWatcher Survey.  


As a Loon Watcher you will record:


  • the number of loons you see
  • nesting success observed in eggs and young birds
  • interesting occurrences and
  • problems that may harm the loons.


For more information about the Minnesota Volunteer LoonWatcher 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 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.





firearms 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
  • 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.





campground hostsCampground Host This Spring/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 April to October at a Minnesota State Park operated campground.


A host's primary responsibility is to assist campers by:

  • answering questions
  • explaining campground
  • performing light maintenance work around the campground
  • picking up litter
  • sweeping and stocking supplies in toilet buildings
  • 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 2015.


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.