The Natural Resources Club at the University of Minnesota Crookston was presented with the 2018 National USDA Forest Service Volunteers & Service Award for restoration work on the Chippewa National Forest. The presentation took place on Earth Day 2019 via a virtual presentation by the chief and deputy chief of the Forest Service. 

Award winners are volunteers and partners who exemplify the core Forest Service values and have made significant contributions to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grassland. UMN Crookston received one of 6 national awards selected from the 56 regional volunteer award recipients forwarded to Washington D.C. The service hours performed by the volunteers has been estimated to exceed $500,000.

Under the leadership of Natural Resources Club advisors Associate Professor Phil Baird, Lab Services Coordinator Laura Bell, and former health and safety coordinator at UMN Crookston Tom Feiro, the Crookston Crew has volunteered on the Chippewa National Forest since 1983. Baird and Feiro have been involved since the very beginning and Bell for the past 16 years. The Crew has planted seedlings on the Deer River and Blackduck Ranger Districts for the last 36 seasons. In 2001, the Crookston crew also began helping with animal damage control by budcapping pine seedlings each fall.

The UMC Natural Resources Club brings 35 to 50 volunteers to the Chippewa for the combined tree planting and budcapping projects each year. This spring a group of 15 students and 4 faculty and staff members planted 2500 white pine seedlings on the national forest east of Cass Lake, Minn.