Become a Plant Corps Volunteer!

Goals and Activities

The overall goal of the MN Plant Conservation Corps project is to update and expand our understanding of how native orchids and rare plants are distributed in the seven-county metro area. While densely populated, this study area retains more than 160,000 acres of public parks, trails, and green-space that are nationally recognized for their importance to the local population’s health and happiness. These open spaces play a vital role in not only human well-being but also in the health and persistence of wild plant populations. We hope to bridge these important values while promoting healthy, meaningful experiences in the outdoors. This program also aims to connect and expand upon established volunteer corps. By bringing together these groups, and training them to collect data for plant conservation, we will increase public awareness of native plants and the importance of natural areas in an urban setting.

The results of this project will inform individual land managers about the presence and location of important native plant species, allowing for refined management decisions and increased potential for educational activities. This information will also be used within our own program, helping us prioritize local, state-wide, and regional plant conservation work. To do this, we plan to:

Goal 1: Recruit and train 20-25 volunteers for field-based orchid research

  • Recruit volunteers from MLA, MN Master Naturalists, MN Native Plant Society, University of Minnesota, and other interested groups using email, social media, and website platforms
  • Review and select up 20-25 applicants; grouped in teams of 2-3, pairing persons of different backgrounds and skillsets
  • Conduct one ½ day training for general volunteer on-boarding and orientation at MLA
  • Conduct one 2-day detailed training in collaboration with Bell Herbarium and MN Master Naturalist staff at MLA, outlining survey specifics

Goal 2: Collect data about the distribution and condition of MN native orchids and rare plants in the seven-county metro area

  • Develop survey assignments from existing data available from the Bell Museum, MN Biodiversity
  • Atlas, and iNaturalist
  • Contribute over 300 field-hours and 900 non-field volunteer and staff hours to orchid surveys

Goal 3: Support native plant conservation

  • Submit survey data to the state’s Biodiversity Atlas using iNaturalist or pressed voucher
  • specimens
  • Collect seed of select species for long-term seedbanking
  • Author and disseminate a project summary report and individualized landowner reports



  1. Recruit and train 20-25 volunteers to identify and survey for native orchids and rare plants
  2. Invest over 1200 hours toward native plant studies
  3. Contribute data to the state’s Biodiversity Atlas
  4. Share project results with participants, conservation groups, and the public


  • Field surveys