Dakota County Environmental Resources

Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP) - Wetland Health Evaluation Program - Dakota County Parks Team 1

General Description

Since 1997, WHEP volunteers have been monitoring wetland health throughout Dakota and Hennepin counties. They provide important information to city and county planners, engineers, resource managers, and other professionals. The valuable data collected during the season is shared with local decision-makers and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to help give a better picture of local water quality and wetland biodiversity and health throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area. 


WHEP volunteers annually monitor and evaluate wetland health based on species diversity and population of macroinvertebrates (dragonflies, snails, etc) and plants. Volunteers use wetland assessment protocols and tools to provide valuable wetland data to their local decision-makers. Volunteers work in city-based teams and are guided by team leaders. Volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds but all share a common interest in understanding and protecting wetlands. All training and equipment is provided by Dakota County. 



Registration will begin early in the spring. Each person will join a team designated by city of choice. The event schedule is determined by the team leader from each city and varies with each team. The program runs May through August (various dates and times determined by team and city). Schedules are available in May.


Duties & Responsibilities

  • Participate in group outings as assigned by the group
  • Help collect samples
  • Participate in lab work
  • Attend the assigned trainings


Minimum Qualifications

  • Able to stand for periods of time in uneven terrain
  • Enjoys working in groups outdoors
  • Doesn’t mind working in a wet environment
  • Some weekend hours required
  • If under 16, must be accompanied by an adult (18 or older)


Minimum Time Commitment

20 - 40 hours during the summer season, hours vary by volunteer


Activity Level

Active - Involves physical exertion for an extended period of time; can involve rough, uneven or steep terrain. Not recommended for volunteers with physical limitations.


Recommended Training

No current experience is required. All trainings are provided for by the county. Below are the three training sessions and locations. 



Field Methods and Intro to WHEP


Tuesday, May 28

Check-in at 5:30 p.m.

Training at 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.



Dakota Lodge, Thompson County Park - West St. Paul 


Macro-invertebrate Identification Training

Saturday, June 8

Check-in at 8:00 a.m.

Training at 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 


Inver Hills Community College - Heritage Hall Room 203 

Vegetation Identification Training

Thursday, June 27

Check-in at 4:30 p.m.

Training at 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.


Empire Lake Picnic Shelter, Whitetail Woods Regional Park - Farmington


Additional Information

For additional information about this program, check out this intro video or visit the MN WHEP website.


Contact Information

Garrett Zaffke | Community Relations and Volunteer Services Coordinator

Dakota County Communications

1590 Highway 55| Hastings, MN 55033

Direct: (651) 438-4635 | Fax: (651) 438-4405 Email: garrett.zaffke@co.dakota.mn.us



Qualifications Required

  • Accepted Data Privacy Notice - Tennessen Notice Must be Yes
  • Signed Volunteer Waiver Must be at least Yes

Schedule Summary

This activity occurs between Monday, April 01, 2024 and Monday, September 30, 2024