Volunteers As we complete the initial restoration work on many new areas of our preserve, we need help to keep the ball rolling. We have more of our preserve in ongoing management than ever before and we need your help to keep our natural areas healthy.

At this point in time, volunteer work at the Belwin Conservancy involves being outside on the preserve and doing physical labor. Some of the things we need help with require a very specific time commitment while others offer flexibility. In the future we may offer other types of volunteers opportunities.

If you are interested in volunteering, we ask that you fill out and return volunteer-interest form linked below. Using that information, Belwin Conservancy staff will coordinate volunteer opportunities that match your interests.

Volunteer Form Volunteer Form (Download)

If you use the download form, please fill out the Word Document and email it to info@belwin.org or mail it to: 1553 Stagecoach Trail South, Afton, MN 55001.

Woodland Restoration

Many of our woodlands and forests are infested with woody invasive species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, and amur maple. These shrubs need to be cut with handsaws or loppers, depending on the size, and placed on a brush pile to burn the debris. Staff will treat the stumps with herbicide to prevent regrowth.

  • When: Fall & Winter
  • Work Involves: Hand pulling and cutting shrubs and small trees

Prairie Restoration

In addition to prescribed burning and herbicide application, many non-native species are managed by removing them mechanically, either mowing, cutting, or hand-pulling. This approach is especially useful in our remnant prairies (prairies that have survived since pre-settlement, not planted) where herbicide use is limited. We are also looking for assistance in planting new restorations when the ground is frozen and on slopes where our equipment cannot reach.

  • When: Early summer, Winter
  • Work Involves: Hand pulling and seeding on steep slopes

Seed Collection

Belwin Conservancy uses seed harvested to enhance and restore ecological communities on our nature preserve. Large-scale harvesting of grasses and forbs is accomplished using a combine; however, many species are not able to be collected this way.

  • When: Late summer & Fall
  • Work Involves: Walking and hand collecting seed

Trail Maintenance

Belwin Conservancy maintains over 20 miles of trails across over 1,300 acres of our nature preserve. We are looking for assistance in monitoring their condition, cutting downed trees and woody vegetation, and maintaining signage along the trails.

  • When: Year-round
  • Work Involves: Walking, using loppers and/or chainsaws

Bird Surveys

In partnership with the Audubon Minnesota Important Bird Area Program, the Belwin Conservancy is conducting breeding bird surveys. Birds are an important component of every ecological community and often indicators of restoration success. These surveys take place during the breeding season from mid-May through June and occur when the birds are most active during early mornings.

  • When:Mid-May through June
  • Work Involves: Bird identification, walking, strict time commitment following survey protocol, early morning availability

Rare Plant Monitoring

Belwin Conservancy has a number of rare plant populations at our nature preserve. In order to determine how to manage these populations, we need information on the location of any populations, the plant population demographics, and microhabitat conditions. This work would occur during the growing season.

  • When: Late May through July
  • Work Involves: Hiking on uneven or brushy terrain, plant identification