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DNR volunteers celebrated for contributions

DNR volunteers share a special commitment to making sure our natural resources are available for current and future generations to enjoy.  More than 14,000 volunteers helped the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources last year do everything from monitoring rainfall levels to clearing trails.

“Our volunteers give back to their communities and the state in so many ways,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “I can’t overstate how grateful we are for their continued service – particularly for the commitment they demonstrated to the DNR’s work in the face of the challenges we all experienced last year.”

Although many volunteer activities paused or looked different in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, DNR volunteers continued to do important work in ways that were consistent with COVID-19 public health guidelines.

According to the new 2020 Annual DNR Volunteer Report  released today, the estimated value of volunteer services in 2020 totaled $7.4 million. The annual report is out just in time for National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, when organizations across the country honor volunteers and recognize the impact of their time and talents.

What do DNR Volunteers do? Volunteers help the DNR with a wide variety of activities, including firearms safety instruction, wildlife habitat improvement, state park campground hosting, loon monitoring, and wildlife research.

Pat Graham and Doris Ikier are two very active DNR volunteers. Since 2018, Pat and Doris have served as campground hosts in Wild River State Park. In addition to assisting campers, they have helped support the park’s interpretive program in numerous ways.

“Pat and Doris have volunteered for many odd jobs in the park. From varnishing our collection of wooden snowshoes that we rent, to collecting thousands of dollars-worth of prairie seed to restore parklands, they have contributed to the park and its visitors in so many ways,” said Mike Dunker, interpretive naturalist at Wild River State Park.

The DNR established a department-wide volunteer program in 1988. Over the ensuing 33 years, Minnesotans have contributed more than 12.3 million hours of volunteer service to help manage our state’s natural resources. The dollar value of this service is estimated at more than $230 million. The DNR’s volunteer program is one of the largest among Minnesota state agencies.

To see volunteers in action and find out more about volunteering with the DNR, watch the 90-second DNR Volunteer video.  To become a volunteer, visit the DNR website.