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Want to make the difference? Have a passion for the outdoors? The Iowa DNR offers numerous volunteer opportunities to help improve natural resources in Iowa. Find out how you can lend a hand:

1 + Become a Campground Host

If you like to camp and meet new people, this is the volunteer experience for you! The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking for campground hosts to live in our state parks for the months of April – October helping DNR staff with light maintenance duties, checking in campers, and being a resource for visitors enjoying our state parks and forests.

Campground hosts are provided a free campsite while they are actively hosting during the camping season. Hosts volunteer 20 – 30 hours per week, including weekends and holidays, while living on site in their own camper.

Campground hosts . . .

  • work with DNR staff to ensure that campers have the best experience possible in Iowa’s state parks
  • provide a welcoming presence in our campgrounds
  • act as models for other campers
  • provide park information to visitors
  • clean restrooms
  • perform light administrative and/or maintenance tasks.

All campground hosts must pass a criminal background check according to Unsupervised Volunteers Background Check Policy.

Parks and Recreation Areas Currently Needing Hosts:

  • Backbone
  • Brushy Creek
  • Clear Lake
  • George Wyth
  • Maquoketa Caves
  • McIntosh Woods
  • Springbrook

Wishing to help out a park listed above?
Download, complete, and submit a campground host application for that specific park. Applications reviewed, interviews scheduled by park managers and rangers.

For more information, please call 515-444-9164 or contact your local DNR park, forest or preserve.

2 + Natural Resource Educator

Volunteers needed to assist with programming at Springbrook, Walnut Woods and Lake Anita state parks. Ideal volunteers would have a teaching or science background and enjoy leading natural resources educational programming and outdoor skills training, primarily for children. Volunteers are needed at Springbrook to assist with school groups on weekdays in April and May. Summer programming assistance is needed at all three parks during the weekdays and weekends.

Flexible hours, candidates must be able to pass a background check. for more information.

3 + Special Events, Volunteer Opportunities

Special events are planned by Iowa DNR and our partners calling on volunteers to come together for a purpose.

Iowa's locally-led volunteer water quality monitoring program, empowers watershed and conservation groups to take a proactive approach to water quality. By engaging volunteers to monitor water quality in their project areas, they can ensure the protection, longevity and productivity of high quality water resources, as well as evaluate, assess, and improve those of lower quality.

4 + State Lands Volunteer Program

The State Lands Volunteer Program allows select nonprofit organizations and individuals providing services on behalf of them to be eligible for liability protection under Iowa Code chapter 669 (Iowa Tort Claims Act) while performing qualifying volunteer services for the DNR. These nonprofit organizations and the individuals providing services on their behalf are considered state volunteers while providing authorized volunteer services for no compensation.

Who can participate?
For the purpose of this program a volunteer means an organization incorporated under Iowa Code chapter 504 as a nonprofit organization, or an individual providing services on behalf of the nonprofit organization, that provides volunteer services for the benefit of lands under the jurisdiction of the department and that registers as a volunteer under this program. A volunteer may include a friends group or organization as defined in rule 571—14.1(461A). A volunteer shall not include an organization or individual that operates a concession operation as defined in rule 571—14.1(461A), unless that concession operation remits all receipts and returns all net proceeds after qualifying expenses from such operations to the department for the benefit of the state parks system or otherwise procures goods or services for the benefit of the DNR.

What are qualifying volunteer services?
Qualifying volunteer services are, unless otherwise specified, limited to activities undertaken on lands under the jurisdiction of the DNR to benefit such lands. Volunteer services do not include any administrative functions of a nonprofit organization registered under this program. Some of the most common types of volunteer services include organized work days, special events, and concession operations.

What is the process to register?
Groups interested in participation in this program must complete the State Lands Volunteer Program Registration Form.

All submitted registration forms will be reviewed by the DNR to determine whether the registrant will be designated a volunteer under this program. The DNR will evaluate the volunteer’s ability to perform the services, the DNR’s identified need for such services, and the DNR’s ability to manage the volunteer’s proposed activities, if applicable.

DNR will issue an authorization letter to those registrants who will be admitted to the program. The authorization letter will state the terms of the registrant’s participation in the program. The DNR may authorize the registrant’s proposed activities in part and deny them in part and may provide reasons for any program denials. Registration must be renewed every other year or as soon as substantial changes are planned to the approved services contained in the authorization letter, whichever occurs first.

Program Resources
1. State Lands Volunteer Program Registration Form
2. Volunteer Project Planning Form – This form was created to assist groups in providing detail to local DNR staff regarding a specific event/project. This is an optional form.
3. Volunteer Waiver – Registrants will be required to have all volunteers who participate in activities sign a DNR volunteer release and liability waiver.
4. Volunteer Log – Registrants should complete a volunteer log at the conclusion of each event.
5. Volunteer Code of Conduct – DNR encourages registrants to share this code of conduct with their volunteers.

5 + Wildlife Monitoring

The Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program (VWMP) is for enthusiastic and sharp-eyed, sharp-eared volunteers who have a passion for wildlife and its conservation. With more than 800 species in our state, the wildlife staff cannot possibly keep track of all these critters in every corner of the state. We need volunteers that are willing and interested in collecting data on two important and sensitive groups of wildlife.

Click to find out more about the Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program

+ Volunteer in Iowa State Parks

Iowa state parks and forests rely on volunteers to help with numerous projects throughout the year. Examples include trail work, painting, park clean-up, tree trimming, prairie seed harvesting, and much more. Every park has unique needs with various time commitments to meet your schedule. Please contact your favorite state park or forest, preferably by email, if you would like to volunteer and make a difference. Find state park listings and contact information on individual park web pages.

Click for State Park Contact Information