New this Month!


May 2014


Illinois’ Natural Resources Trading Cards Set #6

The latest set in the Illinois' Natural Resources Trading Cards series has arrived! Illinois' Natural Resources Trading Cards Set #6 from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is now available! Due to limited supplies, these cards will be offered to teachers in Illinois schools first. Send your request on school letterhead to IDNR Education, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702. After six months, if any card sets remain, they will be distributed to nonformal educators in Illinois, too. Nonformal educators may submit a request on their organization's stationary now. Requests will be held and filled in the order that they are received as long as supplies remain available. These cards can be used as resources in so many ways to supplement your teaching.


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. 


Images to Use with Mammals Lessons

The new IDNR Division of Education mammal lessons developed with the Next Generation Science Standards as their foundation are designed to be used with the Illinois Wild Mammals Resources Trunk. However, if you can’t borrow a trunk, now you can teach the lessons by using images of the pelts, scats, skulls and tracks. Access them through the links at


New Video Podcasts

Several new video podcasts have been added to the IDNR Division of Education’s podcast Web site at and to the YouTube ( site and iTunes Store. New video podcasts with tips for completing the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant application form and Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant application form are available. Visit the page often. New video podcasts are added regularly.


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!


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. REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP WILL CLOSE AT 8:00 A.M. ON THURSDAY, May 1, 2014.


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. REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP WILL CLOSE AT 8:00 A.M. ON THURSDAY, May 22, 2014.


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.


Spring and Summer Programs from Dickson Mounds Museum

Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown has added many spring and summer programs. For more information, contact the Museum at 309-547-3721 or visit


Tot Time

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 Havana National Bank and MidAmerica National Bank with additional support from the Canton Cook Medical Team. Topics are as follows:  May-Go Fly a Kite; June-Pirate Tales; July-Something is Fishy; August-Camouflaged Animals.


Summer Fun Fridays!

Join us every Friday from June 13-July 26 for mini-adventures, hands-on activities and fun while learning about science in the world around us. Registration is required with a deadline of the Wednesday before each Friday program. 

Date: June 13-July 25       Day: Friday          Time: 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Fee: $3 for Illinois State Museum Society (ISMS) members and $5 for non-members per program

Ages: 9-11


Mother-Daughter Native American Craft Workshop

Mothers and daughters join us for a special afternoon of learning about Native American beading/weaving. Each mother/daughter pair will work together to create their own piece. Registration is required with a deadline of May 5, 2014.    

Date: May 10, 2014         Day: Saturday     Time: 1:00 p.m.

Fee: $8 for ISMS members and $15 for non-members         Age: 8+ with adult


Nature Track: Mound Survey

The most obvious evidence of the prehistoric past of the area is manifest by earthworks built for a variety of purposes. We will visit several earthworks located in the Lewistown-Havana area and discuss what we know about them. Participants will receive a field guide for the trip. Please dress appropriately for outdoor conditions. Participants will provide their own transportation. Registration is not required.

Date: May 24, 2014         Day: Saturday     Time: 9:00 a.m.

Fee: Free, donations welcomed   Age: all ages


Father-Son Atlatl Creations

Fathers and sons join us for an afternoon of making your own atlatls, commonly known as spear throwers. Registration is required with a deadline of June 2nd.

Date: June 7, 2014           Day: Saturday     Time: 1:00 p.m.

Fee: $8 for ISMS members and $15 for non-members         Age: 8+ with adult


A Taste of Archaeology for Adults

Ever dreamed of a career as an archaeologist? Do you consider yourself an amateur archaeologist?  Work alongside archaeologists and gain insight into this profession. Participate in an excavation, discover artifacts and learn how to identify, clean, organize and sort your finds. Registration is required with a deadline of May 21, 2014, and the program has a maximum of 10 participants. Activities will be held indoors and outdoors in hot, humid, dusty conditions. Participants are required to provide their own sack lunch and snacks. Teachers may earn Continuing Professional Development Units for participation. Call the Museum at 309-547-3721 to register. 

Dates:  June 3-5, 2014     Days: Tuesday-Thursday Time: 8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Fee: $50 for ISMS members; $60 for non-members             Age: adults, 18 years old +


A Taste of Archaeology for Teens

Gain experience as a young archaeologist. Work alongside professional archaeologists. Participate in an excavation, discover artifacts and learn how to identify, clean, organize and sort your finds. Registration is required with a deadline of May 28, 2014, and the program has a maximum of 10 participants.  Activities will be held indoors and outdoors in hot, humid, dusty conditions. Participants are required to provide their own sack lunch and snacks. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America are highly encouraged to participate in this program. It may fulfill some badge requirements. Call the Museum at 309-547-3721 to register. 

Dates:  June 10-12, 2014               Days: Tuesday-Thursday Time: 8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Fee: $35 for ISMS members; $45 for non-members                            Age: 13-17 years old


More than Bows-n-Arrows

Join us for this annual Father’s Day event. Enjoy hands-on activities and demonstrations of life-sustaining skills used by ancient Native Americans. Activities include throwing spears with an atlatl, primitive cooking, making arrowheads by pressure-flaking, pump drills, pottery making and cultivating with stone tools.

Date: June 15, 2014         Day:  Sunday       Time: 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Fee: Free, donations welcomed   Age: all ages


Nature Adventure for Kids

Experience the Illinois River Valley. Participants may hike, canoe, bird watch, fish, collect water samples and work in a biological laboratory. Registration is required with a deadline of June 4, 2014. Activities will be held indoors and outdoors in hot, humid conditions. Participants are required to provide their own sack lunch and snacks. Call the Museum at 309-547-3721 to register. 

Dates: June 17-19, 2014                Days: Tuesday-Thursday Time: 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Fee: $30 for ISMS members; $40 for non-members                            Age: 10-12 years old


Nature Explorers Camp for Kids

Explore the past and the present in the Illinois River Valley. Learn how people lived in this area and utilized its resources over thousands of years. Activities will be held indoors and outdoors in hot, humid weather. Participants are required to provide their own snacks. Registration is required with a deadline of June 11, 2014. Call the Museum at 309-547-3721.

Dates:  June 25-26, 2014               Days: Wednesday-Thursday          Time: 9:00 a.m.-noon

Fee: $20 for ISMS members; $30 for non-members                            Age: 7-9 years old


Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Join us as we welcome the longest day of the year. We’ll watch the sunrise, enjoy a bonfire and live music as we learn about how past and present people around the world recognized the significance of the position of the sun at particular times of the year. 

Date: June 21, 2014                        Day: Saturday                    Time: 6:00 a.m.-7:30 a.m.

Fee: Free, donations welcomed                  Age: all ages


Nature Track: Geology Tour

Learn about the geology of the Lewistown-Havana area and how the Illinois River Valley was formed.  Participants must dress appropriately for outdoor conditions and provide their own transportation.   Registration is not required.

Date: June 28, 2014                        Day: Saturday                    Time: 9:00 a.m.

Fee: Free, donations welcomed   Age: all ages


Nature Track: Experience a Voyageur Canoe

Join us and bring your friends because we’ll need a lot of people to paddle a 28- and 34-foot voyageur canoe! Learn about history, geology and biology as you paddle on Thompson Lake. Registration is required, and you will be provided with the information to obtain a free, necessary permit/waiver form.  Minors must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. Seating is limited. Call the Museum at 309-547-3721 to register.

Date: July 12, 2014, with a rain date of July 26, 2014          Day: Saturday     Time: 9:00 a.m. 

Fee: free, donations welcomed   Age: all ages


Urban Biodiversity Week Events in the Chicago Area

Please join the IDNR in celebrating Urban Biodiversity Week in the Millennium Reserve, May 10-18! The week will include a series of free events that celebrate urban biodiversity and conservation activities and will culminate with a Nature Block Party on Saturday May 17 at William Powers State Recreation Area, 12949 South Avenue O, Chicago, and Eggers Woods, 11201 South Avenue B, Chicago.


Events include: Garlic Mustard Pull at Eggers Woods; bird hikes in multiple locations; Flower Festival at Calumet Park; Stewardship Work Day at Eggers Woods; Mother’s Day Nature Walk at Sand Ridge Nature Center; Moonlight Nature Hike at Promontory Point; Night Hike at Sand Ridge Nature Center; A Tale of Two Lakes - hike between Lake Calumet and Wolf Lake; The Wonder of Salamanders at Sand Ridge Nature Center; Sunrise Serenade bike ride around Wolf Lake; and a Nature Block Party.


Nature Block Party, a fun-filled day for the entire family, will take place at William Powers State Recreation Area and Eggers Woods on May 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Enjoy fishing, birding, biking, kayaking, archery, nature hikes and learn about plants and wildlife found in your region! Some activities may change. Please check the Web site for event details and updates:

If you have questions or would like to discuss your group’s participation in any of the activities, please contact Ania Ruszaj at


Millennium Reserve is a transformed 210-square mile region with thriving commerce, communities and wildlife in the Calumet and southeast Chicago lakefront. Millennium Reserve encompasses numerous neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side, the southeast lakefront and 37 south suburban municipalities.

Urban Biodiversity Week is a collaborative effort between the IDNR Coastal Management Program, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Chicago Park District and many other partners who are leading and organizing events.


Illinois Coastal Grants

The Illinois Coastal Management Program is pleased to announce that we will once again be accepting applications for Illinois Coastal Grants! Applications will be accepted for environmental education and outreach projects and sustainable coastal planning projects. A map of the Illinois Coastal Zone boundary can be found here: Coastal Zone Map. Application materials are available at the Illinois Coastal Grant Program Website. Applications will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. CT on Friday, May 30, 2014.


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