New this Month!


January 2014


Project Squirrel Mobile Phone App

With the new Project Squirrel mobile phone app, your students can easily become involved in citizen science activities that can be incorporated into lessons to support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The app is free and both Apple and Android versions are available. Go to iTunes or the Google Play Store and download the app today. All citizens can take part in the data collection. Lessons to support squirrel observations will be posted soon at You can learn more about Project Squirrel at The Project Squirrel mobile phone app is sponsored by the Chicago Academy of Science’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the University of Illinois Chicago and Motorola. 


Earth Day in the Parks

Applications will be accepted from January 1 – February 28, 2014, for Earth Day in the Parks events from the IDNR! Visit to download the application form and to see the list of participating Illinois state parks. Involve your students in these natural resources stewardship activities and help them make a difference in their environment. A grant from the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund helps support these events. 


Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant Applications due this Month

Teachers, the IDNR’s Division of Education offers Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grants to help you take learning to life. State parks, nature centers, the Shawnee National Forest, forest preserve districts, national wildlife refuges and museums are just some of the qualifying destinations. The field trip must occur within Illinois. Each teacher may apply for up to $500 to pay for transportation and substitute teacher costs. The application deadline is January 31, 2014. Visit for details. Check out the video podcasts and other information to assist you in completing the application form. Funding for this program is provided by the Independence Tube Corporation in Chicago and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation in Skokie.


Next Generation Science Standards Lessons

New lessons based on the Next Generation Science Standards are being added to the IDNR Web page at Visit often as lessons will be added as they are completed. Recently added lesson topics include: mammals for grades kindergarten, one, two and three; fossils for grades three, four and middle school; and trees for grade one. Coming soon: insects; biodiversity; aquatics; and more tree lessons.


More New Video Podcasts

The IDNR Division of Education’s video podcasts can help you to preview and plan lessons as well as provide you with teaching tools and tips for completing grant applications. We have added more podcasts recently. Visit or search for them through the iTunes Store and on YouTube (search for “IDNREducation”).  


Visit the IDNR Division of Education Booth at Upcoming Teachers’ Conferences

The IDNR Division of Education will be hosting an exhibitor’s booth at these upcoming teacher conferences. Stop by our booth on these dates to pick up educational resources to supplement your teaching and find out how our programs can assist you.

January 31, Science in the South Teachers’ Conference, Carbondale

February 10-11, Illinois Association for Gifted Children’s Teachers’ Conference, Naperville


Make IDNR Resources Trunks Reservations

IDNR’s popular resources trunks are available statewide and represent 10 topics. They supplement many lessons and provide hands-on resources that can enliven your teaching. Visit for links to all the resources trunk Web pages and lending site contact information. Resources trunks are great supplemental educational tools for use by teachers, youth group leaders, scout leaders, church group leaders, camp leaders and nature center personnel. There have been several lending site changes recently, so check the lists to see what’s new in your area. Don’t forget that the Field Trip Pack for early childhood educators is available, too! Check out the trunk video podcasts on the IDNR Web site, iTunes and YouTube. New lessons correlating the trunks to the Next Generation Science Standards are also being developed. Visit often to see new lessons as they are posted.  


Register Now for Upcoming ENTICE Professional Development Workshops

The following ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) educator workshops from the IDNR are scheduled for January through April. Go to for more details and to register. Continuing Professional Development Units are available at all ENTICE workshops. Experience ENTICE!


Tracks, Scats and Habitats, Mayslake Peabody Estate, Oak Brook, January 11, 2014

Often when exploring nature, instead of seeing an animal, we find what it left behind. Join us in this exploration of animal signs and how they relate to habitats. We'll be practicing our skills on an outdoor field trip, too. We'll show you how to incorporate the topic into your lessons and provide resources to help you do so. Although targeted to teachers of grades prekindergarten through six, other educators are welcome to register and attend the workshop but may need to adapt the materials as appropriate. REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP WILL CLOSE AT 8:00 A.M. ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 2, 2014.


Introducing Early Childhood Students to Winter Nature, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, January 25, 2014

Winter is a great time to introduce young children to nature! There is so much to see and learn. Where do you begin? Join us to discover what nature can tell us in the winter and how to interpret the information. We’ll take a hike to put our knowledge to work and will feature the Field Trip Pack from the IDNR. We'll be incorporating animal tracks, winter camouflage and plant and animal survival strategies, too. Although targeted to grades prekindergarten through three, all educators are welcome to register for the workshop, but the information may need to be adapted, as appropriate. You’ll take away numerous resources to use with young children when learning about nature. REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP IS CLOSED. TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST, SEND A MESSAGE TO DNR.TEACHKIDS@ILLINOIS.GOV.


Winter Ecology, Spring Valley Nature Center, Schaumburg, February 15, 2014

Winter may appear to be a time of inactivity in the natural world, but the appearance is deceptive. Join staff from the Spring Valley Nature Center as they teach us about the interrelationships of organisms during winter. Targeted to educators of grades four through 10, this workshop will include discussions of species adaptations, the physical environment, biotic and abiotic factors affecting populations and much more. We’ll take an observation hike, too. Supplemental educational materials and activities will be provided and demonstrated throughout the day.


Resources Trunks from the IDNR, Dickson Mounds Museum, Lewistown, February 22, 2014

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) offers resources trunks and packs for loan to educators statewide. These teaching tools are loaded with hands-on, supplemental, Illinois-specific items that can make your lessons come alive for students! Join us at this workshop to preview all 10 resource trunks and the Field Trip Pack, too. We’ll examine the trunk contents, discuss how they can be used in the classroom and take part in activities. You’ll receive many resources, too! This workshop is appropriate for teachers of grades prekindergarten through 12.


Illinois Aquatics 101, Online, March 10-23, 2014

Explore Illinois' freshwater environments in this workshop targeted to educators of grades 4-8. We’ll learn about the types of aquatic habitats in Illinois, their physical factors and the organisms adapted to them. Numerous supplemental educational items will be provided. Educators of other grade levels are welcome to register but may need to adapt the materials as appropriate.


Wildlife Basics for Early Childhood Educators, River Trail Nature Center, Northbrook, April 5, 2014
This workshop for educators of grades prekindergarten through three will provide you with the information and resources that you need to successfully teach about and observe wildlife. We’ll focus on the life history of common wildlife species, and we’ll go on a hike to look for wildlife and their signs. You’ll receive training in using basic equipment. We’ll also discuss developing wildlife habitat on your school grounds. You’ll take away numerous resources to use with young children when learning about nature.


Introducing Early Childhood Students to Nature, Western Illinois University, Moline, April 12, 2014

You can make a lifelong difference with your early childhood students by introducing them to the wonders of the natural world! How do you do it? Where should you go? What tools do you need? What are the liability issues? These questions and many more will be answered during this workshop targeted to educators of grades prekindergarten through three. We’ll go on a nature hike and will feature the Field Trip Pack from the IDNR. You’ll take away numerous resources to use with young children when learning about nature. Staff from the Illinois Early Learning Project at the University of Illinois in Champaign will lead the workshop.


Teacher Workshop - Flying WILD at Volo Bog State Natural Area

Thursday, January 30, 2014, or Saturday, February 1, 2014, 9:15 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. each day

Flying WILD introduces middle-school students to bird migration and conservation through classroom activities and school/community bird festivals. The Flying WILD curriculum supports educators by providing interdisciplinary, group-learning activities that engage students in real-world learning. Half of the activities are designed to involve students as leaders and in service-learning activities. Students learn how to design and conduct a bird festival for their school or in their community. Flying WILD is also perfect for scout leaders, home school educators, youth librarians, environmental educators, naturalists and volunteers. Fee: $25.00 payable to Illinois Audubon Society covers Flying WILD book and lunch. Four Continuing Professional Development Units are offered to classroom teachers. Go to to register.


Dickson Mounds Museum Upcoming Programs

The following programs have been scheduled at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. Visit the Museum’s Web site at or call 309-547-3721 for more information.


Winter Gathering, Saturday, January 25, 2014, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., all ages

Participate in a traditional Native American Winter Gathering. Enjoy a variety of activities and demonstrations, including storytelling, music, group games and dances, doll making and beading. The event is free, but donations are welcome.


Eagle Day Festival, Saturday, February 8, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., all ages

The Eagle Day Festival will be held at Dickson Mounds Museum and the cities of Lewistown and Havana. Activities include art and poetry competitions, crafts for kids, live raptor programs and bird watching. The event is sponsored by Dickson Mounds Museum, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Illinois Springfield’s Therkildsen Field Station, the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Fulton and Mason County Arts Councils, the Havana and Lewistown Chambers of Commerce, the Havana Public Library District and Nature Center and the Emiquon Audubon society. The event is free, but donations are welcome.


ENTICE Workshop: Resources Trunks from the IDNR, Saturday, February 22, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Dickson Mounds Museum

The IDNR offers resources trunks and packs for loan to educators statewide. These teaching tools are loaded with hands-on, supplemental, Illinois-specific items that can make your lessons come alive for students! Join us at this workshop to preview all 10 resource trunks and the Field Trip Pack, too. We'll examine the trunk contents, discuss how they can be used in the classroom and take part in activities. We'll preview some of the new lessons specifically developed for the trunks to help your students meet the Next Generation Science Standards. You'll receive many resources, too! This workshop is appropriate for teachers of grades prekindergarten through 12. Continuing Professional Development Units are available. Sponsored by the IDNR, this workshop is a part of the ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) series of workshops. Registration is required. Register at Registration will close on February 13, 2014.


Hickory Ridge Coffee House Concert Series

Performances by noted folk musicians the third Saturday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by singer-songwriter Chris Vallillo. Admission: $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for children. For a listing of upcoming shows go to or call the Museum at 309-547-3721. 


Tot Time: Fun for Tots and Their Big People

Adults and their tots will have fun exploring, discovering, and learning on the first Thursday of the month from 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. in the Museum’s Discovery Center. Spend quality time with your tot, while each of you makes new friends. A different topic and craft will be featured each month. Registration is not required and admission is free. Participants will enjoy light refreshments. This program series is sponsored by MidAmerica National Bank and Havana National Bank. Topics are as follows: January-Ice; February-Animals in Winter; March-Duck, Duck, Goose!; April-From Garbage to Art


Illinois Valley Archaeological Society

Join us for monthly presentations on a variety of archaeological topics. Admission is free. Visit the Museum’s Web site at or call 309-547-3721 for more information. 


Dickson Mounds Museum Offers Workshops for Teachers

Educators! Gather together and schedule a workshop at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown, Illinois.  Workshops may be a half- or full-day experience and include a behind-the-scenes look at the museum, facility tours and hands-on activities, including archaeological work, nature observation, hiking, canoeing and biological laboratory work. See what kinds of opportunities Dickson Mounds and its Emiquon partners, The Nature Conservancy, University of Illinois at Springfield Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have to offer youth and adults. A minimum of six teachers is required per workshop. Dickson Mounds Museum, a branch of the Illinois State Museum and a National Historic Site, is one of the major on-site archaeological museums in the United States. It offers a unique opportunity to explore the world of the American Indian in an awe inspiring journey through 12,000 years of human experience in the Illinois River Valley. Dickson Mounds Museum's workshops provide Continuing Professional Development Units. Workshops may be tailored upon request. Contact Curator of Education Christa Christensen by phone at 309-547-3721 or to schedule your workshop or for more information. Also, visit for current program and event listings.   


IDNR Publications

Do you need Illinois-specific, scientifically based resources to support your lessons? Then visit the IDNR Publications Order Form at You’ll find activity books, posters and many other publications available to download and/or order. Many of the publications have a Spanish-language version, too. Illinois Trees: An Education and Activity Book, Illinois Prairies Coloring Poster, Aquatic Resources Crossword Puzzle, A to Z from a Tree student activity sheet and What Good is a Dead Tree? are just some of the items available to teachers. Order now!


IDNR Division of Education List Server

Educators throughout Illinois can obtain instant notification about new products, scheduled workshops and many other events and items from the IDNR through the IDNR Division of Education's electronic list server. By participating in the list server, you will receive email messages when new educational materials are available from the IDNR. You'll also be made aware of upcoming workshops and special opportunities. To join the list, send an email to You do not need to write any text in the message or the subject line. You may leave the list at any time by sending an email to You do not need to write any text in the message or the subject line. There is no charge to participate. Messages are usually titled "Items of Possible Interest" in the subject line


IDNR Education offers Field Trip Tips for Educators

Visit to access information that will help you and your students have a successful outdoor experience at an Illinois state park. You can find the state park nearest to you and a list of its amenities. By clicking on the category names in the “Lesson Topics” feature, you can link to the IDNR lesson plans and materials that will help you teach about the habitats, organisms and/or history of each park. Lessons for pre-trip, on site and post-trip are available in downloadable PDF format. Field trip etiquette and planning are also discussed. After deciding on your destination, why not apply for an Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant? You’ll find a link to that information on this Web site, too.


Wildlife in the Classroom

Has a student ever brought an animal into your classroom and asked you to keep it? Have you ever found a feather or a bird’s nest and wanted to use it to supplement your lessons? Do you know the Illinois and federal laws that apply to these situations? Teachers often come in contact with wildlife or wildlife remains, willingly or not. It is important for you to know what to do in these situations. The IDNR Division of Education has produced a reference document for your use. Wildlife in the Classroom is not all-encompassing, but it will provide you with basic information about possessing wildlife and wildlife remains. You can download the publication at If you would like to read the entire Wildlife Code for Illinois, you can access it at


We’re on Facebook!

Visit our Facebook page to find the latest updates about the materials and programs of the IDNR Education Section. You’ll also find images from ENTICE workshops! Search for “Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Education.”


Illinois Trapper Education Online Course

The IDNR offers an online course for those interested in learning to trap. People who are required to complete a course before purchasing a trapping license now have two choices. They can take a full-day course in the classroom or complete half of the requirement online and half in the classroom, where they learn hands-on skills such as setting traps and preparing pelts for sale.


Courses are free. The IDNR encourages all trappers, regardless of age, to take a course. First-time trappers under 18 years of age must complete a course and pass a written exam before they are allowed to purchase a trapping license. Those under 16 years of age must also have written permission from a parent or guardian before purchasing a license.


Illinois Trapper Education Online ( covers topics such as trapping equipment, laws and ethics through online film clips, reading materials, quizzes, photos and illustrations. Students can exit the course and resume work where they left off at any time. The course is accessible using a basic dial-up connection, although high speed connections work best.


At the end of the Internet course, students must successfully complete the final exam online and download a printable document of completion. Students must present the document when attending the four-hour training session with instructors. To locate an instructor-taught course, visit or call 1-800-832-2599. The Ameritech Relay for the deaf and hearing impaired is 1-800-526-0844.


Wild Illinois History Leads Students on a Journey to Learn About History and Wildlife Conservation

The IDNR is offering a "virtual" trip for late-elementary schoolteachers, students and their parents. With a few mouse clicks, students can journey back to the earliest days of the Illinois Territory when voyageurs and Native Americans hunted the prairies, forests and rivers. Wild Illinois History helps students in grades three through five focus on early French exploration, along with river and settlement geography. Students can learn how wildlife helped Native Americans and early settlers survive. They also can see how wildlife is a part of our lives today. A fictional French trapper in the 18th century Illinois Territory leads students on the trip. Brief story-telling slideshows are mixed with fun, interactive activities. For teachers, Wild Illinois History offers lesson plans, activities, photos, posters and correlations to Illinois Learning Standards. Try it out at For more information, contact Bob Bluett, IDNR Wildlife Diversity Coordinator at 217-782-7580 or