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Volunteers help sustain wild WisconsinCelebrating 40 years of protecting Wisconsin's natural heritage

Listen to WPR

Catch DNR volunteer monitoring coordinators Owen Boyle and Kris Stepenuck on The Larry Meiller Show live from 11-11:45 March 21 on these WPR Ideas Network stations or online. If you miss the show, you can still listen to the archives

Comeback Champ

Hurley and Mercer high school students and The North Lakeland Discovery Center near Manitowish Waters have teamed up to help the American marten, the lone mammal on Wisconsin's list of threatened and endangered species. Their work is helping learn whether the small, secretive species has expanded its range, and is drawing national attention.

The students' project is one of 12 finalists from 1,500 entries in a national Samsung school competition to show how science or math can help the environment in their community.

March 2012 WDNR "Comeback Champs"

North Lakeland Discovery Center
Comeback Champs

Representing the North Lakeland Discovery Center: Cathy, Zach Wilson (Naturalist and Leader of the "Woods 'N Waters" Project), Sarah Johnson (Director)

Hurley High School
Comeback Champs

Representing Hurley High School: Cathy, Diane O'Krongley (teacher), Reilly Manzer, Jordan Smoczyk, Donnie Scherre, Lynda Waldros, Lauren Vinopal, Zach Wilson (North Lakeland Discovery Center)

Mercer High School
Comeback Champs

Representing Mercer High School: Cathy, Sheri Kopka (teacher), Nikki Kempf, Zach Wilson (North Lakeland Discovery Center), Kassie Wiedower, Tim Wurlitzer, D'kota Engler, Lucas Huybrecht, Matt Weber, Mandy Scheels, Brandon Cassiani, Andrew Lu, John Michael Klopatek, Kyle Bianga

Be our eyes and ears in the wild

Citizen volunteers have long collected information about Wisconsin's plants and animals, particularly rare ones protected under the state's 40-year-old endangered species law. Volunteers also take the pulse of lakes, rivers and wetlands and keep an eye out for invasive species. Their work helps provide the foundation for protecting, restoring and managing our natural resources.

Pick a species, pick a place, find your passion

More than 150 organizations put volunteers to work every year keeping track of Wisconsin wildlife, plants, and ecosystems. Find a monitoring program that fits you.

Citizen-Based Monitoring Network Search by general category or geographic area of interest

DNR Volunteer Listings Find direct links to some of DNR's most popular volunteer opportunities

Innovative projects sprouting in your backyard

DNR annually awards up to $100,000 in seed money to help organizations and programs advance their volunteer-based monitoring projects.

Learn more about current and past partnership projects in your area

Volunteer to monitor bats

Citizens have contributed more than $50,000 to the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Endowment. That's a fantastic start, but far below the estimated $2 million endowment needed to generate enough earnings to sustain research, surveillance, monitoring, landowner support and education. Learn how you can help.

Save wild Wisconsin!

Look for the loon symbol on your Wisconsin income tax form next to the line titled "Endangered Resources Fund" and fill in the amount of your tax deductible donation. Your donations big and small help safeguard Wisconsin's rare wildlife and special places for your kids and grandkids to enjoy.

A citizen scientist speaks

"I know this is important work for assessing avian populations, migration patterns and longevity, but when you hold a small bird in your hand, a goldfinch or a nuthatch, you forget about the science of it...Just holding it is addictive. I crave the joy of it..." - Jack Bushnell, Eau Claire

Read Jack Bushnell's story, Fitful Science, Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Jack Bushnell

Volunteers donate more than 300,000 hours every year to collecting information about plants, animals, lakes and other natural resources. That's critical support in an era of shrinking government resources, and grows the ranks of citizens who take action locally to protect and restore natural resources.