Last year more than 20,000 Minnesotans volunteered their services to assist the Department of Natural Resources in accomplishing its conservation mission.

According to the 2018 annual DNR volunteer report, these volunteer services in 2018 were valued at $7.8 million. In hours that equates to 136 full-time staff.

"We're fortunate to have so many dedicated Minnesotans who are willing to donate their skills, time and talents to help strengthen our conservation efforts," said Renee Hartwig, DNR volunteer program administrator. "We're extremely grateful for their efforts. Volunteer engagement is crucial in many of our projects, especially citizen science."

Volunteer opportunities at the DNR can range from specialized activities requiring extensive skill and experience, to projects requiring little or no previous experience.

The experience of Pheng Xiong is an example of a volunteer learning and expanding their skills. Xiong has been an intern for the Urban Roots conservation crew all four of his high school years. In this position, he's taken on the leadership role of teaching at DNR public events, leading nature walks on the trails and restoring the landscape at the DNR Willowbrook Campus, home to the DNR central region headquarters and Minnesota’s first state-run fish hatchery.   

"No matter how hot, buggy, wet or ‘sticky’ the task, Pheng always has a smile and great attitude,” said Gina Bonsignore, DNR regional planner. “He has done so much to help improve our site and educate his community about the importance of natural resources. He’s even transferred the knowledge he has gained here to advocate for, design and implement a rain garden at his high school. "

Volunteers help with a variety of activities including firearms safety instruction, wildlife habitat improvement, state park campground hosting, loon monitoring, trail clearing, precipitation measurement and reporting, issuing burning permits and doing wildlife research, to name a few.

Volunteer opportunities are available throughout Minnesota at state parks, state forest campgrounds, wildlife management areas, fisheries and hatcheries, as well as at DNR regional and headquarters offices.

For more information, visit  People may also contact the DNR information center at 888-646-6367 or (651) 296-6157.

– Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Web site