Volunteer Opportunities

Imagine yourself as a citizen-scientist, up to your waders in a wetland, assessing aquatic plants and insects, checking your environment’s “vital signs.” Visualize standing in a stream using a Secchi tube to measure water transparency. See nature in a new light while you plant trees to shade trout streams, remove invasive species, or clean up stream debris. The VRWJPO offers these and other opportunities for you to put yourself in the picture and experience the watershed first-hand.


The Nation’s largest Adopt-a-Drain program has just launched in the Twin Cities – and the VRWJPO is proud to be a sponsor. This new program invites residents not only in the Vermillion River Watershed but also in the seven-county metro area and Rochester to adopt a storm drain to protect area lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

Just sweeping up leaves, trash, and other debris around a storm drain protects local lakes and rivers by preventing pollution from entering our shared waterways.


Minnesota Water Stewards

The Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization invites residents to become Minnesota Water Stewards. The program provides training and opportunities for residents to protect and improve water quality and habitat, engage your neighbors, and promote clean water.

Freshwater developed the Minnesota Water Stewards (formerly Master Water Stewards) program in 2013, and Vermillion River Watershed is one of many watershed organizations sponsoring the classes. The program provides opportunities for watershed residents to develop expertise in improving and protecting water resources through training, hands-on projects, and outreach.

Minnesota Water Stewards are certified by participating in a a training curriculum led by experts in hydrology, stormwater management, water policy, community-based social marketing and raingarden assessment and installation. They must complete a capstone project that captures rainfall and allows more water to soak into the ground, and lead a community outreach event. Following certification, the Minnesota Water Stewards can help people in the watershed who are looking for ways to improve their local water resources through specific outreach and action.

The cost to enroll in the Minnesota Water Stewards program in the Vermillion River Watershed is $125 per person, which covers course fees and field trips. The cost will be reimbursed to participants upon certification as a Minnesota Water Steward. Scholarships may be available for those with demonstrated financial hardship.

For more details and to apply, visit minnesotawaterstewards.org.

The next Minnesota Water Stewards session begins in January and runs through October.

Direct questions to the Vermillion River Watershed, brita.moore-kutz@co.dakota.mn.us or (952) 891-7086.

Vermillion River Watershed Wetland Research

Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP)

The Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP) trains volunteers to collect data on wetland plants and macroinvertebrates, providing information to local governments about the health of specific wetlands. No experience is necessary. Training is provided. Citizen teams are guided by a team leader. Volunteers spend between 15 and 30 hours from late May through early August checking on wetlands in their communities.

Join one of these teams: Apple Valley, Burnsville, Dakota County Parks, Eagan, Farmington, Hastings, Lakeville, Mendota Heights, North Cannon River Watershed Management Organization, Rosemount, South St. Paul, and West St. Paul. Each team collects data on up to five wetlands.


Vermillion River Watch

The Vermillion River Watch Program engages individuals, school groups, and community members in monitoring the health of the Vermillion River.

Volunteers participating in the Vermillion River Watch Program visit their stream monitoring site once per week to monitor water transparency (using a Secchi tube), water level, and the general appearance of the stream (water color and recreational suitability). The monitoring data collected by River Watch volunteers is submitted to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) at the end of the field season. It supplements other water quality monitoring efforts taking place along the Vermillion River.

The Vermillion River Watch Program is coordinated for the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization through the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Vermillion River Watch