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Volunteers add $8 million in value to DNR

Nearly 26,000 citizens donated services valued at $8 million during 2011 to assist the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in accomplishing its conservation mission through a variety of projects and programs. That's the equivalent of an extra 179 full-time staff, according to the DNR.

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

DNR managers, professionals and technicians work alongside volunteers to help manage the state's diverse natural resources. Volunteer positions can range from specialist jobs requiring extensive skill and experience to work requiring little or no previous experience.

For example, for several years now Russ Johnsrud, Ron Norenberg, Don Marg, Denny Ernst, Chuck Yliniemi and Steve Maanum have used their woodworking skills to assist staff at the Park Rapids Wildlife office.

Last year, the volunteers built 68 bluebird houses for the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program. They also built 103 Peterson bluebird boxes, 10 mallard nesting boxes, 50 wood duck boxes, and two purple martin houses. Most of these went to the Detroit Lakes Wildlife Management Area. Twenty-five bluebird houses were built for Park Rapids School and 30 bluebird houses were for Bagley School.


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

Special event sites offer volunteer experiences, too. More than 500 volunteers assisted the DNR at the Minnesota State Fair last year. They helped at the laser shot booth and archery range, acted as Smokey Bear, and provided entertainment and environmental education presentations on the DNR volunteer outdoor stage.

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

For more information about DNR volunteering opportunities, visit the DNR website at and click on the word "volunteering." Information is also available by contacting the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free at 888-646-6367.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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