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. National wildlife refuges provide many opportunities for you to help your community by doing what you love. National wildlife refuges partner with volunteers, youth groups, landowners, neighbors and residents of urban and coastal communities to make a lasting difference. Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying.



Our Partners


Careers and Internships

Education Programs


Volunteers at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge provide their talents and energy to help in many different ways. From 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 to answering visitor inquiries at the information desks, from hiking trails to helping with school programs, volunteers are invaluable to us for all of the support they provide! By volunteering you'll gain knowledge about the refuge and its purpose and will become part of a community of people dedicated to the stewardship of wildlife and natural landscapes. If you have questions about the refuge's volunteer program, please contact the volunteer coordinator.

To start the process of getting involved, please complete the Natural Resources Volunteer Application and email it to the Volunteer Coordinator at minnesotavalley@fws.gov or mail it to: Minnesota Valley NWR, Attn: Volunteer Coordinator, 3815 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN 55425.

Once received, we will be in touch with you to schedule a volunteer interview to get to know you a little more, discuss interests, and see where the best match may be.

Potential volunteer opportunities:

Biological Projects

  • Invasive species removal
  • Maintain pollinator gardens
  • Monitor bird feeders for Project FeederWatch
  • Seed collection


Community Outreach

  • Assist with outreach programs and events
  • Guide nature programs such as Nature Smart Library program
  • Provide on-site translations for events and programs
  • Help in Fishing in the Neighborhood programs


Visitor Services

  • Adopt-a-Trailhead
  • Assist with environmental education programs
  • Lead programs as an interpretive guide
  • Become a trail ranger and share trail reports
  • Donate your photography and videography skills
  • Support behind the scenes as an office assistant
  • Interact with visitors at our information desk and Friends’ nature store 


RV Volunteers

Primary responsibilities will be staffing our two visitor centers with opportunity to support additional duties that may include but are not limited to: maintenance projects, habitat restoration, and contributing to scientific studies.

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Our Partners

The National Wildlife Refuge System is committed to building partnerships which encourage conservation and protection of our natural and cultural resources. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge works with multiple partners throughout the Minnesota River Valley. Learn more about our local partners:

Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends

The mission of Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends is to assist the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge with its mission to “work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance the fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefits of the American people.”

This includes managing the Nature Store at the Education and Visitor Center in Bloomington, welcoming visitors and answering questions about refuge lands and programs, fundraising to support refuge environmental education programs both on and off-refuge, promoting refuge programs and advocate for local environmental issues and building capacity for youth from under-served communities to engage with nature. Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends also manages the Blue Goose Bus Fund that sponsors bus costs associated with the Partner School and Partner Teachers field trip program.

Minnesota Valley Trust

Refuge lands gradually increase through a unique partnership with the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc. The Minnesota Valley Trust is acquiring new lands, which will eventually be donated to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and managed by Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Partner Schools

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge works with schools from underserved communities around the Twin Cities metro area to provide nature-based education and interpretation lessons to students in grades K-5.

The Partner School program supports schools in which at least 50% of the students are in need of free/reduced cost lunch. The Blue Goose Bus Fund pays the transportation fee for the schools and thus the visit is 100% FREE. Students in this program will visit the refuge three times throughout the school year. Lessons differ by the seasons, with majority of the time spent outdoors. For students who do not have proper gear for exploring outside, there is a borrowing closet with hats, mittens, boots, etc. 

Contact info
Cortney Solum, Visitor Services Manager


ArtStart is an award winning non-profit art organization that provides quality art experiences for children and adults through workshops, residencies, summer camps, and festivals. Since 2017 they have partnered with the refuge to hold EcoArts Fest, a one-day outdoor arts, environment and culture celebration around special themes, such as migratory birds (2017) and pollinators (2018). This event is the culmination 6-week school art residencies at local elementary schools.

Creative Placemaking South Loop

The Creative Placemaking Commission advises the Bloomington City Council on using arts, design, culture and creativity to help accomplish the City’s goals for change, growth and transformation of the South Loop District in a way that also builds character and quality of place in Bloomington. Several collaborations between artists and the refuge have resulted in unique opportunities for visitors to experience the refuge in a new way.

Wilderness Inquiry 

Wilderness Inquiry is a non-profit organization in the Twin Cities that focuses on inclusivity and outdoor recreation. Wilderness Inquiry has partnered with Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to provide paddling experiences to underserved youth in the Twin Cities. Minnesota Valley stretches for more than 70 miles along the Minnesota River, and paddling is a great way to get youth outdoors. A canoe paddle in a 10 person hand-made wooden Voyager canoe is an experience no kid can forget.

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The Community Outreach Program strives to reduce barriers and increase opportunities that connect urban audiences with the nature in their neighborhoods. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of outdoor education and recreation opportunities, both on the refuge and in the community, ranging from library demonstrations to fishing and snowshoeing programs to habitat restoration. The Meet Your Wildlife Neighbors outreach trailer is also available and is a fully equipped nature experience on wheels.

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Careers and Internships


If you are interested in a conservation career with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit the USFWS Careers site for useful resources and tips on how to land a job. 


Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a premier training ground for the next generation of conservation professionals. Minnesota Valley provides three unique opportunities for professional development:

  • Refuge Youth Internship Team is a year-long 12-member conservation-focused employment opportunity for local high school students that follows a Work/Learn/Play model. Emphasis is on habitat restoration, community engagement, and first-time outdoor recreation experiences within the context of conservation careers. 

*Openings typically announced in May and August.

  • Environmental Education Teaching Internship is a year-long practical training program for beginning professionals focused on curriculum development, partnership coordination and leading field trips for K-8th grade students.

*Openings typically announced annually in May.

  • Refuge Apprenticeships provide recent college graduates a 2-year mentored experience in biology, visitor services or community outreach and engagement.

*Openings typically announced biannually in October. Next opening 2024.

The Refuge works with many local and national organizations to make these internships possible including Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, StepUp Achieve Twin Cities, Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF), American Conservation Experience (ACE), Scientists Eagerly Acquiring Knowledge (SEAK), and Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa (CCMI).

For more information about internships and seasonal employment opportunities at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, contact Internship Coordinator Christopher Dunham at christopher_dunham@fws.gov

For additional opportunities, visit the USFWS Careers site and Careers in Conservation for federal as well as non-profit resources.

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Education Programs

Open the door to a potentially life-changing experience. If you land a student internship, a fellowship or a volunteer opportunity at a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
, fish hatchery or other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site, you’re bound to come away with new insights and excitement about conservation.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge maintains multiple partnerships to provide youth employment, training, and recreation experiences.

  • Minneapolis Step Up Achieve: They run innovative career & college readiness programs, host public education events and manage Minneapolis Public Schools funds and awards.
  • Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF): HAF connects Latinos and others with partners, and provides opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.
  • Scientists Eagerly Acquiring Knowledge (SEAK): SEAK is an E-STEM (environmental science technology engineering and math) program for students in grades 10-12. It is run in partnership with Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center and the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban Connections program for underrepresented E-STEM students, particularly, women and students of color who are interested in the outdoors and want to pursue career pathways in the environmental and natural resource fields.

Educators interested in engaging their students in outdoor learning through field trips or on-campus exploration, visit the Education page for resources and information

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