New this Month!


March 2014


New ENTICE Schedule Released

Educators, the new ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) workshop schedule for July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, has been released! Register now at ENTICE workshops offer training on Illinois-specific topics and supply you with the tools needed to implement the topic into your curriculum immediately. Participants learn from resources professionals, take part in activities and spend time outdoors (where appropriate). Continuing Professional Development Units are available at all ENTICE workshops. ENTICE is a program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' (IDNR) Division of Education. 


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 IDNR, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Motorola. 


Next Generation Science Standards Lessons and Illinois Early Learning Standards Correlations

New lessons based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) 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. Also on this Web page, you will find lessons correlated to the newly revised Illinois Early Learning Standards.


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. The latest video podcasts provide information in the Kids for Conservation® “Hey IDNR, How Do I. . .?” series for identifying frogs and toads by their call. 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.


March 6-7, Illinois Coalition for the Education of At-risk Youth Conference, Normal

March 6-7, Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Teachers’ Conference, Schaumburg

March 13-14, Illinois Reading Council Conference, Springfield

April 2-3, National Association for Interpretation Region V Conference, Rockford 

April 19, Homeschooling Educators’ Fair, Champaign

April 25, Western Illinois University Science Update Conference, Macomb


Have You Made Reservations to Borrow IDNR Resources Trunks for Spring?

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 being posted at as they are completed.  


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 March through August. Go to for more details and to register. Continuing Professional Development Units are available at all ENTICE workshops. Experience ENTICE!


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. REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP WILL CLOSE AT 8:00 A.M. ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2014.


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 Campus, 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 in Champaign will lead the workshop.


Illinois’ Urban Wildlife II, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, May 3, 2014

Wildlife is all around us, even in downtown Chicago! Educators of grades four through six are invited to participate as we learn where to look for urban wildlife, what you can expect to find, how to identify species and how to improve urban wildlife habitat at your school. Natural resources professionals and educators will instruct about these topics and more, including how species adapt to the urban environment, how humans affect urban wildlife, and control of nuisance species. We'll take a hike to search for urban wildlife present in spring. Receive supplemental educational materials to enhance your teaching.


Introducing Early Childhood Students to Nature, Kendall County Forest Preserve District, Yorkville, May 10, 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.


Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Development, The Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, May 31, 2014

How’s your habitat? Join us to learn how you and your students can take action to improve wildlife habitat on your school grounds. Educators of grades kindergarten through 12 will learn basic habitat design and development techniques. We'll assess what is already on the school grounds and what might be missing. We'll discuss utilizing the habitat to the support the school curriculum. Become aware of grant opportunities and obtain supplemental materials to help you get started with your own schoolyard habitat development.


Forest Ecology and Wildlife, Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Willow Springs, June 21, 2014

Wildlife species are important components of forests. From the leaf litter on the ground to the canopy in the sky, their presence helps to determine the health and stability of the forest ecosystem. The ecosystem in turn affects all wildlife species living in it. In this workshop for teachers of grades kindergarten through eight, we will explore the life history of wildlife populations, their interactions and their important role in the forest ecosystem.


Pollinators and the Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, June 28, 2014

Explore the hidden world of pollinators and their unique relationship with the plants they pollinate. This workshop will give you a hands-on look at plants and pollinators in action, including a visit to The Morton Arboretum's prairie and beehives. You will experience hands-on activities that can be instantly implemented into your curriculum. Although targeted to teachers of grades kindergarten through five, all educators are welcome to register for this workshop but may need to adapt the materials for their students, as appropriate.


Illinois Prairies, Rock Springs Nature Center, Decatur, July 11, 2014
Imagining the vast prairies of Illinois’ past is difficult, but you can visit an existing prairie if you join us for this workshop at Rock Springs Nature Center. Designed for educators of grades kindergarten through eight, you’ll learn about prairie ecology as well as the history of the prairie in Illinois and how humans have affected prairies. We’ll talk a walk through the prairie and discuss the prairie plants that we find. Illinois-specific educational resources will be provided and suggestions will be given for using the prairie and prairie-related resources from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help you meet Next Generation Science Standards. Teachers of other grade levels are welcome to register and attend the workshop but may need to adapt the information.


Alien Invaders: They are Here!, U.S. Forest Service Shawnee National Forest Office, Harrisburg, July 18, 2014
What are invasive species? How did they arrive in Illinois? What are issues related to them? These and many other questions will be answered at this workshop for teachers of grades six through 12. We'll discuss numerous invasive exotic plants, insects and animals that are present in our state, including their life history, identification and control. We'll also get outdoors by taking a walk to look for invasive plants, and there will be some great hands on, engaging activities that you will be able to take back to your classroom, nature center, etc. The Illinois’ Invasive Species resources trunk and its connections to the Next Generation Science Standards will be featured.


Illinois Beetles, Mayslake Peabody Estate, Oak Brook, August 1, 2014
The beetles are coming! Join us to study the amazing world of beetles in Illinois. We’ll look at their life history, habitats and importance. Identification skills will be introduced and practiced. We’ll search for beetles in a nearby prairie and woodland. Targeted to educators of grades four through eight, hands-on activities and classroom-ready materials will be provided. Educators of other grade levels are welcome to attend the workshop, but they will need to adapt the materials to the grade levels taught, as appropriate.


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.


Weekend Knap-In, Saturday, March 1 and Sunday, March 2, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., all ages

The public is welcome to view flint knapping demonstrations during the Museum’s first ever Weekend Knap-In. Learn about the different techniques used by several craftsmen and see their stone tool creations. For more information call Christa Christensen at 309-547-3721. The event is free, but donations are welcome.


Artifact ID Day, Sunday, March 2, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., all ages

Museum staff and other experts will be available to identify your artifacts, rocks, fossils, animal bones, and perhaps anything else you may be curious about. Even if you don’t have any items to identify, be sure to stop in to view the artifacts and live demonstrations. The event is free, but donations are welcome.  


Nature Exploration

Tuesday, March 11 and Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday, March 25 and Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thursday, April 17 and Friday, April 18, 2014

9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. each day

Fee: $5 per day for Illinois State Museum Society members; $8 per day for nonmembers     

9-12 years old

Bugs, wetlands, trees, plants, mammals, birds, flowers and more! Explore various aspects of nature in two days. Discover so much that you’ll want to learn more! Registration is required with a maximum of 10 participants each day.  Participants may register for individual days if unable to attend both days. Each participant will be responsible for bringing their own snacks, drinks and lunch. 


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 & 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: 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