In 2006 Kurt Mead, naturalist and author of Dragonflies of the North Woods, contacted the Minnesota DNR’s Non-Game Program to see about getting some sort of grant to do some research on dragonflies in Minnesota. Minnesota at the time was one of the most under surveyed states for dragonflies in the United States.
Fortunately Kurt’s timing was right as there were funds that were available through matching Federal Fish and Wildlife Department grants and there was interest within the DNR to get more information on Minnesota Odonata. With the help of people in the DNR Non-Game Department Kurt went through the grant proposal process and was awarded a grant to create the Minnesota Odonata Survey Project.
Since the grant money for the MOSP was limited, Kurt decided the best way to survey the state would be to enlist the help of citizen scientist volunteers. At the time there was not much public interest in dragonflies and damselflies, so Kurt decided to hold Odonata workshops around the state. At these workshops he would teach participants the basics of dragonflies, which would hopefully pique their interest, The group would then go out and survey neighboring habitat, providing data that would then be turned into the DNR and the Odonata Central database.
As the years progressed the interest in dragonflies increased. A group of dragonfly enthusiasts formed around the MOSP helping at workshops, participating in surveys, and helping to identify Odonates in the many insect collections at universities around the state. Because of the results generated by the project the funding continued through the DNR. Funding was even provided for targeted surveys, by teams comprised of citizen scientists as well as professionals in the field of odonatology, in lesser-known areas of the state.
By the end of the DNR/USFWS funded project in 2012, the MOSP had amassed over 1800 new county records and had added almost two dozen species to the state list.
Even though the MOSP was officially over in 2012 the momentum was still there. The core group of enthusiasts still had a passion for researching dragonflies and sharing their knowledge with others. After a long year of meetings, brainstorming and lots of hard work (much of which is usually completed by lawyers) our ragtag little band of net-swingers created the Minnesota Dragonfly Society (MDS), a 501c3 non-profit organization.
The mission of the Minnesota Dragonfly Society is: Ensuring the Conservation of Minnesota’s Dragonflies and Damselflies through Research and Education.
MDS members have not only continued the traditions of the MOSP through workshops and surveys, but they have expanded the MOSP footprint by partnering at events such as bioblitzes, nature festivals, schools and other events. The goal is, as it was in the beginning, to get people excited about these charismatic little predators while contributing to the actual science of dragonflies and damselflies in Minnesota.