Volunteers add $7.4 million in value to DNR

Nearly 23,000 citizens donated services valued at $7.4 million during 2017 to assist the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in accomplishing its conservation mission through a variety of projects and programs, according to the new 2017 Annual DNR Volunteer Report released today. That’s the equivalent of an extra 135 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 Renée Hartwig, DNR volunteer programs administrator. “We’re extremely grateful for their efforts. Many of our projects would not be possible without their help, especially those in citizen science that help with research.”

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

For several years Tom and Amanda Dosen-Windorski, Grand Rapids, (pictured) have been involved in banding woodcock as part of wildlife research. Among the smallest game birds in Minnesota, the woodcock is a migratory ground nesting bird and sometimes goes by the name of timberdoodle. Volunteers and their dogs are trained and must spend at least one season with an experienced bander before the federal Bird Banding Laboratory will issue them a permit.

Tom and Amanda are such dedicated volunteers that on their way to the hospital for a kidney transplant two years ago, they stopped along the way to do some woodcock banding. Tom gave one of his kidneys to Amanda. They are back in the field today still banding birds.

“We do this as a gift to celebrate our true devotion to each other and our commitment to helping preserve and renew our great natural legacy for our children and generations to come,” Amanda said.

What do DNR volunteers do?

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

Opportunities are available on public lands such as state parks, state forest campgrounds, wildlife management areas, fisheries and hatcheries, as well as at DNR area, regional and headquarters offices.

For more information, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov and click on the words “Volunteer with DNR,” on the left side of the page. People can also contact the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157.