35,000 Volunteer with MN DNR

Thursday, January 8th, 2009 at 7:13 am

Nearly 35,000 citizens donated services valued at $9.6 million during 2008 to assist the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with a variety of projects and programs. That’s the equivalent of an extra 238 full-time staff.

DNR managers, professionals and technicians work alongside volunteers to help manage the state’s diverse natural resources.

“We’re fortunate to have so many dedicated Minnesotans who are willing to donate their time and talents for conservation projects,” said Renee Vail, DNR volunteer programs administrator. “We’re extremely grateful for their efforts. Many of our projects would not be possible without their help.”

Volunteer positions can range from specialist jobs requiring extensive skill and experience to work requiring little or no previous experience.

For example, members of the Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society (MSTGS) annually donate hundreds of hours of their time each spring by hosting a brush-cutting field day. This year, 36 members hand-cut brush and trees to open up the landscape for wildlife, especially for sharp-tailed grouse, in the Aitkin area. The group also fosters future resource managers by inviting participation by students taking natural resource classes as surrounding colleges and universities.

What are you interested in?

Volunteer opportunities are available at state parks, state forest campgrounds, WMAs, fisheries and hatcheries, as well as at DNR area, regional and headquarters offices.

Special event sites offer great volunteer experiences too. More than 800 volunteers assisted the DNR at the Minnesota State Fair last August. They acted as Smokey Bear, helped at the laser shot booth, dispensed lake data reports and provided entertainment and environmental education presentations on the DNR volunteer outdoor stage.

Elsewhere around the state, volunteers helped with firearms safety instruction, state park campground hosting, loon monitoring, snowmobile safety instruction, trail clearing, precipitation observing, river cleanups, issuing burning permits and doing wildlife research.

Volunteers work individually and in groups, and DNR staff provides all training. The DNR volunteer programs office also works with the DNR Alumni Volunteer Association, a program that allows retired DNR employees to participate in special projects statewide.

More information about DNR volunteering opportunities is available online or by contacting the DNR Information Center toll free at 888-MINNDNR (646-6367) or 651-296-6157 in the metropolitan area.

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