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Minnesota Master Naturalist spotlight: Joel Dunette

June 8, 2021

The 2020 Minnesota Master Naturalist report was released in May, featuring data and impacts from the University of Minnesota Extension program, as well as highlighting one of its many devoted volunteers.

volunteer outdoors in sunhat shows something small to others
Joel Dunette, University of Minnesota Extension volunteer with the Master Naturalist program

Joel Dunette has been active in the Rochester Chapter in southeastern Minnesota since 2009. He completed the Minnesota Master Naturalist instructor training and has taught five biome classes, educating 71 people.

Dunette is active in the community working with many organizations to help Minnesota’s conservation priorities, such as Audubon, Friends of Whitewater State Park, Olmsted County Parks Friends and Quarry Hill Park. He has worked with city staff on prairie restoration.

Native plants are important to Dunette, who has organized a small group of volunteers to plant approximately 200 native plants purchased and donated in Quarry Hill Park Management area 14, where buckthorn regrowth was cut by Conservation Corps Minnesota. He and a couple of volunteers harvested plants from a private woodland. Other volunteers also brought native plants. This area on the west side of the park is between the paved bike path and a trail created in 2013 as a Minnesota Master Naturalist Capstone Project. Dunette has donated plants and seeds for this area every year since 2013.

“Joel has educated and supported many Rochester Chapter members for years,“ says Amy Rager, Extension educator. “He provided the Zoom connection, hosted our COVID-19 planning meetings, and presented on goats in city and county parks, which he has advocated for. A proactive leader, Joel also gave presentations about seeding ahead during the pandemic.”

After the major planting on West Quarry Hill Park, Dunette took on the project of clearing the area along a new city-built trail along the entrance road. He put together a team of Minnesota Master Naturalists to clear garlic mustard from the area and purchased seeds from Prairie Moon Nursery to establish native plants and grasses.

Dunette always shares information about natural area webinars and educational materials from many of the organizations of which he is a member. He has opened many doors for those who may be interested in insects, prairies, woodlands, ecology and more. One of his colleagues says, “He really keeps us busy... and informed... and having a good time working for nature.”

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