Ways to Get Involved

Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature, or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. Wetland management districts provide many opportunities for you to help your community by doing what you love. We partner with volunteers, youth groups, landowners, neighbors and residents to make a lasting difference. Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying.

The Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center

One exciting way you can get involved with the district is through the Friends of the Prairie Wetland Learning Center. This non-profit, 501(c)3 organization exists solely to support the education work of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, which includes enhancing and promoting the understanding and conservation of the prairie pothole region. Below is more information about their goals and activities. To get involved and support their efforts, please visit their website.

The Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center support educational activities of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center.

A Grass Roots Effort

In the early 1970s, local conservationists first envisioned an environmental learning center for the Prairie Pothole Region, specifically in the northwest region of Minnesota. The Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center was established in 1989 to lead the way in transforming that vision to reality. They solicited local support and, with the assistance of Minnesota Legislative Representation, secured $3 million for the construction of the visitor center. Land was purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club and the City of Fergus Falls, and in 1998, the Friends celebrated the opening of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. The Friends again solicited local support 10 years later, and with state funds the education wing was added on with four more classrooms. Through fundraising efforts, they also built the greenhouse used by hundreds of students each year.

The Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center have been instrumental in obtaining support for expansion projects like the education wing.

What the Friends Do

  • Promote conservation and understanding of the prairie pothole region
  • Support activities of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center
  • Creatively generate funds and foster volunteer involvement at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center
  • Fund the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center greenhouse/naturalist position
  • Solicit community, regional, statewide and national support

Specific Accomplishments

In addition to playing a key role in obtaining funding and support for construction of the visitor center, the Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center secured funding to: 

  • Design and produce an orientation video, install a weather station, as well as design and installation of interpretive exhibits for visitors to the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center
  • Construct nearly four miles of accessible nature trails
  • Support and promote the volunteer program at the Learning Center
  • Develop and maintain an interactive kiosk, the Restoration Library, to teach visitors and private landowners about restoration and management of native prairies – also accessible through interlibrary loan

 

The Friends volunteer hundreds of hours in support of Learning Center programs, projects, and events and continue to successfully operate the Bluestem Store gift shop at the Learning Center to generate revenue for special programs.

Seasonal staff help with a variety of tasks including monitoring nesting boxes.

Employment in Our District

Open the door to a potentially life-changing experience. If you land a student internship, a fellowship, or a volunteer opportunity at the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District, you’re bound to come away with new insights and excitement about conservation.

The availability of the following positions from year to year is dependent upon available funding and staffing.

  • The district hires four local youth to work each summer as our Youth Conservation Corps. Hiring for these positions take place directly through the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center.
  • Seasonal biological technician field positions are publicized through USA Jobs. Learn more about seasonal job opportunities.
  • A seasonal environmental education internship at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center takes place mid-February through early June is publicized through the Student Conservation Association in mid-fall. For this position, we aim to hire a recent college graduate with some experience in teaching outdoors.

 

Volunteering

Discover for yourself what tens of thousands of volunteers have learned: Volunteering for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fun and rewarding in many ways. Learn new skills, meet new friends and enjoy a sense of accomplishment from doing your part to further wildlife conservation for the pleasure of generations to follow.

The volunteer program is an active, integral and important part of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. Each year, volunteers contribute thousands of hours to various projects both at the center and throughout the five-county area within Fergus Falls Wetland Management District. The program includes people with diverse talents who enjoy nature and want to make a difference in their community. Volunteer projects vary according to the needs of the district and the interests of individual volunteers. To find out about specific volunteer positions, please contact the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center.

Learn about volunteer opportunities in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal public land agencies.

Who Can Volunteer?

Anyone can volunteer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There are no age limits, but volunteers under age 18 must have a signed parental approval form.

What Can Volunteers Do?

Volunteers are involved in a wide variety of activities. Time commitments of individual volunteers vary from a few hours a month to weekly service. Contact the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center for a listing of current volunteer positions. Examples of volunteer jobs include seed taping, invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
removal, bluebird box monitoring, and much more!

Why Should I Volunteer?

U.S. Fish and Wildlife volunteers have the opportunity to work and socialize with others who share an interest in increasing people's awareness and understanding of the prairie pothole region. Other volunteer benefits include service awards based on hours and volunteer vest and name tag to wear while volunteering. We invite and welcome you to join us in making a positive difference for people and wildlife, something we can all feel good about.

Our Partners

Nature does not recognize human-made boundaries. In order to conserve our natural and cultural resources effectively, we must work with others to bridge these boundaries. Partnerships foster creative solutions to challenging situations and often the results are greater than the sum of the parts. Learn more about our local partners.

Fergus Falls Wetland Management District is proud currently to partner with the following organizations:

  • Butterflies and Moths of North America
  • City of Fergus Falls
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Fergus Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club
  • Fergus Falls Public Schools
  • Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center
  • Lakes Country Services Cooperative
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Monarch Watch
  • National Wildlife Federation—Mayors Monarch Pledge
  • Pheasants Forever, Otter Tail County Chapter
  • Pine to Prairie Birding Trail – Minnesota's first birding trail 
  • State of Minnesota
  • Teach Outdoors! Minnesota
  • United Prairie Foundation
  • Wildlife and Art
  • North Country National Scenic Trail - Minnesota Waters and Prairie Chapter
  • Wildlife Forever

Partner with Us in Restoring Habitat for Wildlife on Your Land

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife program is to efficiently achieve voluntary habitat restoration on private lands through financial and technical assistance for the benefit of federal trust species.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife program at the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District focuses its efforts on restoring drained prairie pothole wetlands and associated tallgrass prairie in the uplands to benefit waterfowl and other wetland birds, as well as grassland dependent migratory songbirds. A typical project may include plugging drainage ditches, breaking drain tile, planting native prairie grasses and forbs as well as sometimes removing invasive trees from the prairie.

Habitat restoration costs may be shared by any combination of governmental agencies, private organizations and the private landowner. Wetland restorations receive highest priority and as a result the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program pays the majority of the costs to restore wetlands on participating landowners’ property.

The only eligibility requirements for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program is that the land is privately owned and the landowner agrees to maintain the restored habitat for a minimum of 10 years.

Since 1985, we have restored more than 2,057 wetlands on private land in the district which includes Otter Tail, Grant, Douglas, Wilkin and Wadena counties - totaling more than 6,486 acres. We have also restored more than 3,989 acres of grassland habitat via prairie plantings and invasive tree removal since 1985.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife program is often bundled with our agency’s wetland and habitat easement programs that provides a payment to landowners to permanently protect wildlife habitat. We bring numerous partners to the table to accomplish the project and provide complete habitat restoration project, from start to finish. This comprehensive approach includes surveys, design, construction supervision and follow up seeding.

There are no sign-up periods; landowners can call our office at any time to initiate a project. While not all projects qualify for assistance, calling for a site visit is the first step.

If you are interested in a habitat restoration project on private lands within our district, please contact Wildlife Biologist Shawn Papon:

18965 County Highway 82
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
218-736-0641
Shawn_Papon@fws.gov

Outreach

Jr. Friends, employees, and interns join forces at the Chahinkapa Zoo for Blue Goose Days.

Outreach activities occur with partners in local communities to help bring information and resources closer to home. Some examples include community prairie plantings, Blue Goose Days at Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and Garden Days and Summer Fest in Fergus Falls.

Education Programs

Thanks to our Prairie Science Class partnership with the Fergus Falls Public Schools, the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center has developed an innovative approach to teaching in the outdoor classroom.  We call it The Compass to Nature, and we want to share it with you!
The Prairie Science Class is a partnership between the Fergus Falls School District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The class uses the local prairie wetlands ecosystem to blend science, math, language arts, health, and art.