Tag Archives: Minnesota

Volunteers Along the Highway


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(Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

by Robert Barossi

It’s likely that your state has an Adopt-a-Highway or Sponsor-a-Highway program. According to the program’s official website, 49 out of 50 states utilize the program and have stretches of highway which have been adopted by organizations, businesses, religious and community groups, etc. As this article from Minnesota demonstrates, it’s often environmental groups and their volunteers who take part in this program. In the town of Worthington, it’s two such organizations, Worthington FFA and Ocheda Beavers 4-H Club, which have led the way in adopting and caring for stretches of highway. This has included a number of children who have worked along the highway after school to pick up trash and litter. According to the article, in Minnesota, “48,000 volunteers… clean up more than 10,000 linear miles of highways.” While that does help to beautify the roads and save the state money, it also goes a long way towards helping the environment and ecosystems along that 10,000 miles of road.

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Volunteer Master Naturalists

065_8A(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Many organizations offer training programs for their volunteers. Often in conjunction with colleges, universities and/or state agencies, volunteers receive training and education in a number of relevant areas. I recall one volunteer I interviewed for my book talking about a chainsaw class, which would become useful for clearing downed trees from trails in the woods. This great story out of Minnesota describes one of the more extensive training programs that I’ve come across, the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program. Offered jointly by University of Minnesota and the Department of Natural Resources, the program has been active since 2005. Enrolled students get forty hours of classroom training as well as books and field trips, with classes offered throughout the state and focusing on the three major ecological regions of Minnesota. After taking the program, which does cost a fee but financial assistance is available, new Master Naturalists take their knowledge and talents to a wide variety of places, performing many different kinds of volunteer tasks. More information about the program can be found at the official website, minnesotamasternaturalist.org.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, please consider downloading my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day.

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Volunteer Trackers

IMG_0463(by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

When interviewing environmental volunteers, I met a volunteer wildlife tracker. She told me about how groups of volunteers would go out in the winter and search for animal tracks, in an effort to gather data about which animals were in a given area. It’s yet another way that volunteers can help to collect information that is vital for conservationists as well as the general public, potential developers, government officials and others. In Minnesota, Jonathan Poppele wants to train volunteers to do this kind of work across the state, specifically aiming to collect data on wolves. The story mentions a similar program that has been successful in collecting important information about wolves in Wisconsin. Programs like these, across the country, are yet another citizen science opportunity for volunteers to get involved and make a difference in wildlife conservation.

More information here on the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project.