If you love to be outdoors and would like to earn a little extra money for the holiday season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a perfect win-win opportunity.

The DNR announced that their State Forest Nursery is looking for people to collect black spruce cones this winter in northern Minnesota. These cones are important to the DNR because the seeds found inside the cones are needed to reforest nearly 3,000 acres of black spruce forest each year.

Getting the public's help collecting local seeds allows them to grow trees adapted to our climate and produce more resilient forests. The Nursery greatly depends on the public to maintain that seed supply, but it's been getting more challenging.

“Over the last few years, the number of collectors has decreased and we are in critical need of black spruce cones,” said Sarah Ebert, State Forest Nursery manager. "We pay people $100 per bushel, which is about nine gallons of cones. Collecting black spruce now is a great way to earn some cash before the holidays.”

Get our free mobile app

Anyone interested in collecting black spruce cones should first contact one of the DNR’s seed drop-off stations to get information and instructions on collecting, handling, and labeling the cones.

It's worth noting that only high-quality, ripe, closed black spruce cones free of stems and debris are eligible for purchase. Colorado blue, white, or Norway spruce cones are not accepted. The window to collect and sell viable black spruce cones is open now through February 2024.

WATCH BELOW: How To Gather Black Spruce Cones

The DNR Forestry seed drop-off stations that are buying black spruce cones are:

  • Cloquet
  • Two Harbors
  • Baudette
  • Bemidji
  • Cloquet
  • Deer River
  • Hibbing
  • Little Fork
  • Orr
  • Tower
  • Warroad
  • The Minnesota State Forest Nursery (near Akeley).

Those interested in collecting are invited to visit DNR’s seed and cone collection webpage for detailed instructions, as well as drop-off location addresses and phone numbers.

Offbeat adventures: Travel to the coolest hidden wonders in every U.S. state

Fuel your offbeat travel dreams. Stacker found the coolest hidden wonders in all 50 U.S. states (plus D.C.) using data from Atlas Obscura.

[WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter private or abandoned property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing.]

Gallery Credit: Sandi Hemmerlein

LOOK: 50 cozy towns to visit this winter

Stacker created a list of 50 cozy American towns to visit each winter. Towns were selected based on visitor opinions, ratings from nationwide publications, and tourist attractions.

Gallery Credit: Laura Ratliff

More From B105