Volunteer Activities

Volunteers provide assistance to the Arboretum in many ways. Some volunteers participate in scheduled work days, working with a group to complete projects such as invasive species control, trail maintenance, collecting seed or planting trees or shrubs. These events are generally hosted on the third Saturday of each month. Other volunteers select independent projects that can be done on their own time. In addition to restoration tasks, they may conduct a bird or plant inventory, monitor a rare species, or lead field trips. If you would like to offer your time or expertise, please contact Arboretum Director Nancy Braker or attend one of our group events. We send out announcements and reminders of our activities, so please let us know if you would like to be on our email distribution list.

Arboretum Volunteer Work Events

Seed collecting

Work events are generally held on the third Saturday of the month, and commonly include activities such as tree planting, seed collecting or removing invasive plants.  Specific project and meeting location will be announced in advance of the event. We also plan other work events on an "as needed" basis.

Upcoming Work Events:

Master Naturalist Service Event - July 18th, 2019 6:00 p.m.- 8:30 p.m

Summer meeting and work event of the Cannon River Valley Master Naturalists Chapter.  All are welcome to attend and learn about the Master Naturalists Program. The evening will start with a field program to hone your skills on prairie wildflower identification using Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, by Lawrence Newcomb. The later part of the evening will be spent controlling sweet clover on this beautiful prairie remnant. Bring your water bottle and a copy of Newcomb’s if you have one; we will have copies to borrow. This is a joint event with the Prairie Partners Chapter of the Wild Ones.

Meet at the Cowling Arboretum office (710 Three Oaks Drive) to carpool to this site, which is 9 miles east of Northfield. Parking is limited so we encourage you to carpool if you can.

If you are coming from another direction and prefer to drive on your own see our directions titled “Getting to McKnight Prairie”. Please ignore your navigation system if it tries to bring you to the site from the east – that road is a dead end! If you are driving separately, meet at the prairie at 6:15.

Questions? Email Heather at hmcnabnay@gmail.com

Check back here for cancellations due to weather!


Seed Collecting - July 20, 2019, 9:00 a.m. - noon

Help keep our prairies healthy by removing invading brush.  Prairie and woodland seed will be collected to be used in future plantings. Meet at the Arboretum office, 710 Three Oaks Lane, on the Carleton Campus near the water tower. 

Future Work Events:

August 17, 2019, 9:00 a.m. - noon
September 21, 2019, 9:00 a.m. - noon, Watershed wide clean-up, joint with Cannon River Watershed Partnership
October 19, 2019, 9:00 a.m. - noon
November 16, 2019, 9:00 a.m. - noon

Meeting Locations - Arb Office and Upper Arboretum

We generally ask volunteers to meet up with us at one of two locations: the Arboretum Office, and the bridge over Spring Creek. The bridge over Spring Creek is located near the Arboretum entrance at 2nd and Oak Streets, near the Carleton College Tennis courts. On this map, if you zoom out until two marked points are visible, the upper marker denotes the Arboretum Office, and the lower marker denotes the Spring Creek bridge.

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The following information would have been displayed on a map:

  • Arb Office
    44.4667913579066, -93.1490941643551
  • Upper Arb Volunteer Meeting Location
    Second Street
    Oak Street
    Northfield, MN 55057
    44.459210728367, -93.1468357443646