Volunteer with the environment and gardening

Volunteering provides an opportunity for people of all ages and interests to get involved in their community. Learn new skills or enhance the ones you already have. Gain valuable experience to boost your resume.

Hennepin volunteers strengthen the community

If you can contribute a few extra hours each month to help, Hennepin County needs your enthusiasm, your time and your willingness to make a difference.

Working together, individuals, families, and businesses can make a positive impact in our community and share the experience of a lifetime.

Imagine the possibilities that volunteering brings!

Find an opportunity that works for you

  • Find something that matches your interests
  • Choose a short- or long-term opportunity
  • Choose a location that’s convenient — close to home or to work
  • Pick the day and time that suits you — a few hours a week to a few hours a month
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Stream Health Evaluation Program (SHEP)

The Stream Health Evaluation Program (SHEP) is an adult volunteer monitoring program that assesses the biological communities in streams in Hennepin County.

Kind of work volunteers do

Teams of volunteers under the direction of a team leader use biological field assessments to determine wetland health. Volunteers collect macroinvertebrates (spineless organisms such as leeches, snails and bugs) and perform a stream vegetation survey following guidelines and protocols developed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

Volunteers are not required to have any prior experience or knowledge of stream monitoring. Hennepin County and program partners will supply all equipment and training necessary to complete the tasks.

Application process

  • Apply for this opportunity

Additional information

For information on sites monitored, see the 2010 SHEP Report (PDF) or the 2009 SHEP Report (PDF).

Master Recycler/Composter program

Kind of work volunteers do

Master Recycler/Composters are trained on waste prevention, recycling and composting through an extensive six-week course that features industry experts and field trips to local waste processing and recycling facilities.

Once training is complete, participants commit to volunteer 30 hours. Volunteer activities include staffing booths at events and designing and implementing waste reduction and recycling projects. When the 30 hour commitment is fulfilled, participants are certified Master Recycler/Composters and encouraged to continue volunteer service.

Opportunities for

  • Must be 18 years and older
  • Must live or work in Hennepin County

Types of opportunities

  • Staffing booths at events
  • Implementing waste reduction and recycling projects

Opportunities vary and include ongoing or one-time events, and day, evening and weekend shifts.

Application process 

Master Recycler/Composter courses are offered in the spring and fall each year. See the course schedule and registration information.

Master Naturalist program

Kind of work volunteers do

Minnesota Master Naturalist is a program developed through the University of Minnesota Extension Service that educates adults about Minnesota's natural resources, empowers them to teach others and provides opportunities to participate in conservation projects.

To become a certified Master Naturalist, participants must complete 40 hours of training and are expected to volunteer 40 hours a year in projects related to natural resources. To maintain certification as a Master Naturalist, participants must complete 40 hours of volunteer service per year.

Types of opportunities

Hennepin County Environment and Energy has a variety of projects available for participants to fulfill their volunteer commitment.

Projects could include:

  • Stream or wetland monitoring
  • Invasive species control
  • Tree planting
  • Monitoring of conservation easements
  • Conducting eco-yard tours
  • Public outreach

Advanced training — environmental interpretation

This course covers training techniques and tools for giving interpretive presentations, leading guided interpretive programs and setting up interpretive displays.

Class participants will acquire a toolkit of skills, resources and materials they can use to lead interpretive programs. Stay tuned for future class dates.

Application process for becoming a volunteer

To ensure that a project will qualify for the Minnesota Master Naturalist program, participants are encouraged to discuss project ideas with Environment and Energy staff prior to starting a project.

Contact

For more information, email Stacey Lijewski at stacey.lijewski@hennepin.us or call 612-348-9938.

Additional information

Find out more about the Master Naturalist program at www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org.

Master Gardener program

Kind of work volunteers do

Volunteers provide researched-based horticultural information to county residents. This happens in various ways, including information booths at events, farmers markets, garden centers and community education courses.

Eligibility

  • Ages 18 years and older

Types of opportunities

  • Ongoing

Shifts available

  • Days
  • Evenings
  • Weekends

Application process for becoming a volunteer

  • Applications are accepted once a year, with a deadline in September, and the county has a limited number of volunteers we can take each year.
  • Applicants must complete an application that includes a horticultural quiz, interview and criminal background check.
  • There is a $25 application fee.

Visit the Hennepin County Master Gardener website for application information.

Special information

All applicants must take the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Core Course. This course takes place once each year, usually in January-February. There is a $250 cost for this training. 

Once Master Gardeners complete the Core Course training, they are required to provide 50 hours of community service their first year, then 25 hours of community service every year after in order to remain certified. Each year Master Gardeners must also receive 12 hours of continuing education credit. More information about our program can be found at www.hcmg.umn.edu.

Staff or team assistant

Kind of work volunteers do

The primary role of the staff/team assistant will be to support and assist the team or individual staff person(s) with different small tasks. The volunteer's role will vary depending on the activities of the team and the identified needs. Detailed information on each assignment will be provided once a volunteer's interest has been assessed and matched to existing opportunities.

Eligibility

  • Ages 18 years and older

Types of opportunities

  • Ongoing

Shifts available

  • Days
  • Evenings
  • Weekends

Application process for becoming a volunteer

  • Complete an application, orientation, interview and training
  • Provide three references
  • Pass a criminal background and driving record check (if personal vehicle will be used in the course of volunteering)

If you are ready to apply, complete the online volunteer application.

Adopt-A-Highway

The Hennepin County Adopt-A-Highway program was established in 1991 to involve the community in the beautifying of our highway roadsides. Through the program, volunteers pledge to keep roads free of litter.

Kind of work volunteers do

Road segment lengths, available for adoption, are typically two miles. Groups are asked to pick up litter along their segments at least twice a year.

  • Hennepin County places signs at the ends of the segments to recognize and thank the volunteer groups for their efforts.

After a roadside clean-up has been completed, group members place filled trash bags along the roadside boulevard.

  • Groups must notify the Transportation Department permit office to arrange for bag pickup.
  • Groups are encouraged to separate and recycle items if they desire.
  • If the group chooses to dispose of the bags themselves, please notify the permit office at 612-596-0339 so we can note that the segment has been cleaned.

Locations

  • Roads throughout Hennepin County

Opportunities for

  • Companies
  • Clubs
  • Families
  • Other groups

Application process for becoming a volunteer

Contact us to let us know you are interested in adopting a road segment.

Special information

  • Hennepin County supplies trash bags and reusable safety vests to all participants at no cost. Groups must pick up the trash bags and vests at the Hennepin County Transportation Department located at 1600 Prairie Drive, Medina (Map It!).
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