Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Utility Links

​​​​​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Breadcrumb

  1. Illinois DNR
  2. Education

New this Month - December 2019

Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant
Teachers of grades prekindergarten through 12 in Illinois, including home-schooling teachers, may apply to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to receive funding to support natural resources-related field trips. Bus transportation and substitute teacher fees are the primary expenses covered. Applications must be postmarked no later than January 31, 2020. The optional preliminary application deadline is January 15, 2020. Visit this Web page for the application form, instructional video podcasts and complete grant instructions. This program is made possible through the generous donations of the D. F. and M. T. Grohne Family Foundation in Wilmington, the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation in Skokie and the Independence Tube Corporation in Bedford Park. Funding is administered by the Illinois Conservation Foundation.
 
Earth Day in the Parks
Earth Day in the Parks is a natural-resources stewardship program for students. Available at participating IDNR state parks, museums and historic sites, events are held in April and May. Students are at the site for about two hours and conduct activities such as planting native wildflowers and grasses, building and installing nesting/roosting boxes and removing nonnative, invasive plants. Teachers must apply to attend the event at a specific site. A drawing is held for each site from the applications for that site. Only the winners from the drawing are allowed to bring their students to the event. Applications are accepted from January 1, 2020, through February 28, 2020. The drawing will be held in early March. Participating parks/museums/historic sites are listed at here and the application form may be accessed from that Web page, too.
 
Illinois’ Pollinators Resources Trunks
The new Illinois’ Pollinators resources trunks for loan from the IDNR Division of Education contain teaching tools to help you and your students explore the variety of pollinators in our state. Targeted to grades prekindergarten through six, there are resources included for classroom use as well as a backpack with field guides and equipment for pollinator observation in the field. Sections in the trunk include “What are Pollinators?,” “Why are Pollinators Important?,” How Does Pollination Work?,” “Helping Pollinators” and “Pollinator Gardens.” Lessons are correlated to Next Generation Science Standards and Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. There are currently 30 lending locations available. See the list of lending locations and the contents checklist at this Web address. An additional 12 Illinois Pollinators resources trunks will be available for loan soon!
 
Biodiversity of Illinois
You’ll find more than 1,000 species accounts with descriptions of their life history, identification features, status, classification, Illinois range map(s), habitat associations and photographs on this Web page from the IDNR Division of Education. This information can support your teaching in many ways. More files are added regularly. Give it a try today! The files are being linked to relevant IDNR lessons, sounds, podcasts, Web pages and accessible PDF versions. 
 
ENTICE Professional Development Workshops
Register soon for ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) professional development workshops for educators sponsored by the IDNR. ENTICE workshops provide background information, networking opportunities, hands-on lessons, supplemental resources on the topic and the opportunity to work with resources professionals. Professional Development Hours are available. Correlations to relevant Next Generation Science Standards and/or Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards are provided. Shown below are the workshops for spring 2020. Visit this Web site for details, the complete list of workshops and to register. Experience ENTICE!
 
Prying into Prions: Investigating Chronic Wasting Disease
Giant City State Park, Makanda
March 14, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Protein synthesis is a topic that many students will not be interested in studying, yet you can make it relevant by using this unit. Prion diseases are caused by errors in protein synthesis. One of those diseases, chronic wasting disease, is affecting the white-tailed deer population in Illinois. During this workshop for middle school and high school teachers, you will preview the six lessons and activities, video and other materials in the unit, “Prying into Prions: Investigating Chronic Wasting Disease.” You'll receive this DVD unit and other supplemental materials. The information from this workshop can be used in teaching about protein synthesis, genetics, DNA replication, wildlife management and other topics. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
Illinois Butterflies
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago
March 14, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Flutter in and join other educators of grades prekindergarten through four as we are introduced to the butterflies of Illinois! Butterfly life history, identification, conservation and adaptations will be discussed. Information on developing butterfly habitat will also be included. Learn about Monarch Watch and other butterfly conservation programs. Correlations between the information presented and Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards and Next Generation Science Standards will be addressed. Supplemental educational resources will be provided. Professional Development Hours are available. Teachers of other grade levels are welcome to register for this workshop but may need to adapt the materials for their students, as appropriate. REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP IS CLOSED. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ATTENDING THE WORKSHOP, SEND AN EMAIL MESSAGE TO DNR.TEACHKIDS@ILLINOIS.GOV STATING THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE ADDED TO THE MARCH 14 BUTTERFLIES WORKSHOP WAITING LIST.
 
Wildlife Basics for Early Childhood Educators
Starved Rock State Park, Utica
March 21, 2020, 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
This workshop for educators of grades prekindergarten through two 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. We’ll show you how to support the teaching of several of the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards for science and Next Generation Science Standards with your students. You’ll take away numerous resources to use with young children when learning about nature. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
Asian Carps: Activities for Middle School and High School Students to Support the Teaching of Next Generation Science Standards
Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton
April 18, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Asian carps are nonnative fishes that have invaded the waterways of Illinois and many other states. These species are responsible for enormous economic, recreational and environmental impacts. At this workshop, we’ll provide an introduction to their life history as well as data to quantify their effects. Containment methods being used in Illinois to keep Asian carps out of Lake Michigan will be discussed. Student lessons relevant to Next Generation Science Standards MS-LS2-4 and HS-LS2-7 will be incorporated. Although targeted to middle school and high school educators, teachers of other grade levels are welcome to attend but may need to adapt the information as appropriate. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
Illinois Tree Squirrels
Kennekuk Environmental Education Center, Kennekuk County Park, Danville
April 25, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
How much do you really know about squirrels? Come to this workshop and learn about the life history of Illinois’ tree squirrels. We’ll go for a hike to observe squirrels and evidence of their presence. We’ll look at how you can use squirrel observations to help you meet some of the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards in science and Next Generation Science Standards. Although targeted to teachers of grades prekindergarten, kindergarten, one, two and four, all educators are welcome to register for this workshop but may need to adapt the materials for their students, as appropriate. Supplemental resources will be provided. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
Learning about Birds for Early Childhood Educators
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
May 2, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
For this workshop in the Wildlife Basics for Early Childhood Educators series, we will focus on learning about common birds that you and your students can easily see and learn about. We will teach basic facts about birds and will learn how to identify birds. We will discuss different types of field guides and how to use them, so you can chose the best one for your purposes. We will learn proper techniques for using binoculars. Our new skills will be tested with a hike on the grounds of the Chicago Botanic Garden to observe birds. Information regarding plants for your school grounds that can help you attract birds will be provided, too. We will provide you with activities, resources and hands-on experiences to get you started when you return to the classroom. Although targeted to educators of grades prekindergarten through two, educators of other grade levels are welcome to register but may need to adapt the materials as appropriate. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
Illinois Prairies
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
June 6, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Imagining the vast prairies of Illinois' past is difficult, but you can visit a restored prairie if you join us for this workshop at the Chicago Botanic Garden. 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. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
Illinois Raptors
Illinois Raptor Center, Decatur
June 13, 2020
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Educators of grades prekindergarten through eight are invited to register for this workshop to learn about the hawks, owls, vultures, falcons and eagles of Illinois at the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur. Life history and identification information will be provided. Staff from the Illinois Raptor Center will have live raptors to observe, too. You'll participate in educational activities related to raptors and will receive many resources to help you incorporate the topic into your curriculum. Professional Development Hours are available. Teachers of other grade levels are welcome to register and attend the workshop but may need to adapt the information as appropriate.
 
Illinois Turtles
Cache River State Natural Area, Cypress
June 16, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Join us for this workshop as we learn about the life history and identification of Illinois’ 17 species of turtles. We will take a hike to look for turtles, and you will participate in hands-on, educational activities. Resources will be provided to help you incorporate the topic into your curriculum. Although targeted to teachers of grades prekindergarten through four, educators of other grade levels are welcome to register for the workshop but may need to adapt the information and activities, as appropriate. Correlations to relevant Next Generation Science Standards and Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards will be provided and discussed. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Development
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Headquarters, Springfield
June 17, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
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 prekindergarten through middle school will learn basic habitat design, development and maintenance techniques. Become aware of grant opportunities and obtain supplemental materials to help you get started with your own schoolyard habitat development. Staff from the University of Illinois Extension’s Horticultural Program at the Logan-Menard-Sangamon unit office will be featured. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
Prying into Prions: Investigating Chronic Wasting Disease
Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford
June 26, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Protein synthesis is a topic that many students will not be interested in studying, yet you can make it relevant by using this unit. Prion diseases are caused by errors in protein synthesis. One of those diseases, chronic wasting disease, is affecting the white-tailed deer population in Illinois. During this workshop for middle school and high school teachers, you will preview the six lessons and activities, video and other materials in the unit, “Prying into Prions: Investigating Chronic Wasting Disease.” You'll receive this DVD unit and other supplemental materials. The information from this workshop can be used in teaching about protein synthesis, genetics, DNA replication, wildlife management and other topics. Professional Development Hours are available.
 
December Kids for Conservation®: Bobcat
The December edition of the IDNR Kids for Conservation® Web page features the topic of the “Bobcat.” You can learn basic facts about this topic in the information section. Watch the video podcast, too. Educators, there are resources for you to utilize. “Kids in Action” features students who are taking action to benefit the environment.
 
Borrow a Trunk or Pack for Your Teaching and Youth Programming
Resources trunks/packs from the IDNR’s Division of Education are Illinois-specific units on topics including pollinators, trees, aquatics, mammals, birds, prairies, insects/spiders, state symbols, invasive species, fossils, Native Americans, amphibians/reptiles and nature exploration. Available for loan statewide, they are filled with items for hands-on learning. Teachers, homeschooling educators, scout and youth group leaders, nature center personnel, librarians, day care center staff and families are among the people who can successfully use these resources. A two-week loan period is suggested. There is no charge to borrow the trunks/packs, although a refundable deposit may be requested. Lessons are correlated to the Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core Standards and Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards, as appropriate. Suggested grade levels are provided but modifications can be made for use at other grade levels. Visit this Web page to access the list of lending locations and more trunk-related information. Several changes in lending locations have recently occurred. We have added some new lending locations and added some new trunks/packs at several current lending sites. Be sure to check the lists for the most recent updates.
 
IDNR Publications for Order and/or Download
Many publications are available from the IDNR. They cover a variety of topics for educators and the public. All publications may be accessed through the order form. Posters, activity books, brochures and other items can help you learn and teach about the topics. Numerous items in Spanish-language versions may be ordered, too.
 
Reporting Monarch Educational Activities
The IDNR and its partners in the monarch initiative are collecting information about educational activities related to monarch butterflies. If you conducted any activities in 2019 related to educating people in Illinois about monarch butterflies or to enhancing or developing monarch habitat in Illinois, please send us a brief description (no more than three sentences) describing each activity. Include the date, a description of the activity, the targeted audience (if an educational activity), the organization or person leading the activity and an email address for someone who can answer questions about the activity. Submit the information to dnr.teachkids@illinois.gov. We will post the information on the IDNR Web site here. This Web site is not intended to promote upcoming activities. We want to share information about efforts that have already taken place to help monarchs and their habitat. Please do not send photos. Thank you!
 
Visit Our Web Page for a Wealth of Resources
The IDNR Division of Education’s Web page offers a great variety of educational resources and information for teachers, home-schooling educators, nonformal educators, scout leaders, youth-group leaders and other people interested in learning about Illinois’ tremendous natural heritage. The “A to Z” button will allow you to access a list of topics. You’ll find basic information, lessons, activity books, grants, educator professional development, correlations to learning standards, video podcasts (with open captioning), trunks and packs for loan and many other items. Let these supplemental resources support your teaching or just learn something new! Updates are made regularly so visit often!
 
Video Podcast – Bobcat
The Bobcat video podcast can be found on the Podcasts page. This video podcast is also available on YouTube.
 
Conservation Achievement Scholarship Program
Applications are now being accepted by the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) for the 2020 Conservation Achievement Scholarship program. The ICF annually awards scholarships to outstanding high school seniors in Illinois who demonstrate effective, voluntary, long-term dedication to the preservation, protection or enhancement of the state’s natural resources. Four scholarships of $2,000 each are available for the current school year. One of the scholarships is earmarked for a qualified applicant who is a dependent of a current employee of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Applicants must be an Illinois resident and a senior in an Illinois high school. Applications must be received by the ICF by March 1, 2020. Detailed instructions and the 2020 application form can be accessed through the ICF website at www.ilcf.org. Contact the Illinois Conservation Foundation at 217-785-2003 or dnr.icf@illinois.gov for more information or to make a donation to support the Conservation Achievement Scholarship program.