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New this Month - March 2017

Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant – Two Options Now Available
Applications will be accepted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Division of Education through November 30, 2017, for the Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program. New for the program this year are two application options. Option One will allow you to apply for a standard pollinator garden. With this option, the plant species are predetermined. You and the students must decide how best to use these species in your available space. Other items to be purchased are limited with this option. Option Two allows the applicant to determine what type of wildlife habitat to develop. You can view both options at this Web page. Please use the supporting video podcasts to assist you in completing the application form. Help wildlife species while taking learning to life!
ENTICE Professional Development Workshops for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019
Register today 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 on a variety of topics. Professional Development Hours are available. Shown below are upcoming workshops for summer and fall 2017. Workshops will continue to be added to the schedule as arrangements are made so check the Web site often. Experience ENTICE!
Monarch Mania!, Gardner Camp, Hull,  July 18, 2017
Wetland Wonders, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, July 29, 2017
Illinois Butterflies and Moths, Cache River Visitors’ Center, Cypress, August 1, 2017
Forest Ecology and Wildlife, Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Willow Springs, August 3, 2017
Introducing Early Childhood Students to Nature, Dickson Mounds Museum, Lewistown, September 9, 2017
Illinois Butterflies and Moths, Burpee Museum, Rockford, September 16, 2017
Illinois Butterflies, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, September 23, 2017
Using Resources Trunks to Teach Next Generation Science Standards, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, September 30, 2017
Introducing Early Childhood Students to Nature, Heller Nature Center, Highland Park, October 7, 2017
Introducing Early Childhood Students to Nature, Kendall County Forest Preserve District, Yorkville, October 7, 2017
Introducing Early Childhood Students to the Nature of Fall, Giant City State Park, Makanda, November 4, 2017
Aquatic Ecosystems: Lake Michigan Ecology, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, November 4, 2017
March Kids for Conservation®: Illinois Turtles
The March edition of the IDNR’s Kids for Conservation® Web page features the topic of the “Illinois Turtles.” You can learn basic facts about these reptiles in the information section. Watch the video podcast, too. Take the quiz to test your knowledge. Educators, there are resources for you to utilize. NEW! We have developed a version of the information section specific to early childhood educators. “Kids in Action” features the students of Du Quoin Arrow Academy in Du Quoin who used STEM principles to construct bat roosting boxes and a butterfly garden on the school grounds. Visit the Web page and get started today! The April topic is the “Northern Cardinal.”
IDNR Mason State Nursery has Native Seeds and Plants for Sale
The IDNR Mason State Nursery has developed a seed mix of Illinois native forbs and grasses that is suitable for use in developing a monarch/pollinator habitat. One packet of these seeds will cover 1,000 square feet. The cost is $40.00 per packet plus shipping and handling. Seeds of the following plants are included: leadplant Amorpha canescens, prairie coreopsis Coreopsis palmata, Ohio spiderwort Tradescantia ohiensis, purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea, pale coneflower Echinacea pallida, rattlesnake master Eryngium yuccifolium, prairie blazing-star Liatris pycnostachya, white prairie clover Dalea candida, purple prairie clover Dalea purpurea, obedience plant Physostegia virginiana, prairie cinquefoil Drymocallis arguta, yellow coneflower Ratibida pinnata, compass-plant Silphium laciniatum, prairie dock Silphium terebinthinaceum, smooth aster Symphyotrichum laeve, marsh blazing-star Liatris spicata, Illinois mimosa Desmanthus illlinoensis, common milkweed Asclepias syriaca, wild bergamot Monarda fistulosa, golden Alexanders Zizia aurea, partridge pea Chamaechrista fasciculata, sweet black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia subtomentosa, black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta, prairie dropseed Sporobolus heterolepis, little bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium and side-oats grama Bouteloua curtipendula. The Mason State Nursery also has 40 species of Illinois native plants available for sale in containers. These plants are $4.00 each, but they must be picked up at the Mason State Nursery in Topeka, Illinois. Delivery is not available for the container plants. For more information and/or to order, contact the Mason State Nursery at or 309-535-2185. Ordering information is posted here. 
Beall Woods State Park Programs
Beall Woods State Park near Mt. Carmel is hosting the following programs that may be of interest to educators. Registration is not required for either of these programs, and there is no admission fee.  For more information contact Jacque Cullison, Natural Resources Coordinator, at or 618-298-2441. 
Dragonflies: Life through a Lens
Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
Exhibiting great patience and perfect timing with the shutter button, Norm Cline has captured amazing up-close photographs of dragonflies. His pictures reveal detailed behaviors of these winged predators that would normally be missed if viewed from a distance. Norm will show several images of these beautiful creatures while discussing his observations from behind the camera.
Woodpecker 101
Saturday, March 18, 2017, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
How many species of woodpeckers can be found in Beall Woods State Park? Which species drills holes in horizontal rows to extract tree sap? Do all woodpeckers have similar feeding and nesting behaviors? Learn the answers to these questions and many other feathery facts. The program will begin in the Visitors’ Center and end with a short hike. Don't forget your binoculars!
Flying WILD at Volo Bog State Natural Area – a Bird Workshop for Educators
Thursday, March 9, 2017 or Saturday, March 11, 2017, 9:15 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. each day           
6 Professional Development Hours available
Request a registration form by emailing or visiting “Through activities involving language arts, social science and math experiences, coupled with community outreach and service learning applications, Flying WILD offers a whole-school approach to environmental education using birds as the focus.  Targeted for the middle-school audience, though widely adaptable, Flying WILD offers practical hands-on classroom and outdoor field investigation experiences connecting real-world experiences in bird biology, conservation and natural history. Project-based classroom applications, service learning and community involvement are encouraged through sections of the guide dedicated to the planning and implementation of birding festivals.” (taken  from Flying WILD is supported in Illinois by Illinois Audubon Society and the IDNR at Volo Bog State Natural Area.
Illinois Native Bees and Illinois Milkweeds Posters!
The IDNR has two new posters available! Illinois Milkweeds and Illinois Native Bees can be ordered through the publications order form. These two-sided posters are great resources that can be used in a variety of ways. Thanks to the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals, the Illinois Rocks and Minerals poster is once again available, too.
Upcoming Programs at Dickson Mounds Museum
The following programs are being held at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown in March. For more information, call 309-547-3721.
Tot Time
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Adults and their tots will have fun exploring, discovering and learning on the first Thursday of each 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 G-M Mechanical of Canton. The March 2, 2017, topic is Illinois Wild Mammals.
Spring Gathering
Saturday, March 18, 2017, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  
Participate in a traditional Native American Spring Gathering. Enjoy a variety of activities and demonstrations, including storytelling, music and dancing. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. All ages are welcome at this program.
Weekend Knap-In
Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.                                 
Sunday, March 5, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.   
The public is welcome to view flint-knapping demonstrations during the Museum’s Third Annual Weekend Knap-In. Learn about the different techniques used by several craftsmen and see their stone tool creations. Flint-knappers should call Christa Foster at 309-547-3721 for information on how to participate. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. All ages are welcome at this program.
Artifact ID Day
Sunday, March 5, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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. If you don’t have any items to identify, be sure to stop in any way to see these artifacts and live demonstrations. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. All ages are welcome at this program.
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 2016 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 We will post the information on the IDNR Web site. 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. We will continue to accept information through 2017 and beyond. Please do not send photos. Thank you!
Resources Trunks and Packs Support Your Lessons in Many Ways
Have you reserved any resources trunks or packs from the IDNR for your teaching, scout troop activities, or other youth programs? The topics include: amphibians and reptiles; aquatics; birds; fossils; state symbols; insects/spiders; invasive species; mammals; Native Americans; prairies; and trees. The Field Trip Pack is designed for exploring nature with young children. Let the IDNR’s resources trunks and packs provide you with the teaching tools that you need. The trunks and packs are available at lending locations statewide. Visit the Web page for links to all of the resources trunks and packs. Several lending locations have recently changed, so be sure to check the list for updates in your area. The trunks include correlations to current national and state learning standards. Make  your reservation today!
Biodiversity of Illinois CD-ROM Series Conversion to Web-based Format
The IDNR Division of Education is in the process of converting the information and images from the Biodiversity of Illinois CD-ROM series (Volume I, Aquatic Habitats; Volume II, Woodland Habitats; Volume III, Prairie and Edge Habitats) into a searchable, Web-based format. Files are being added as they are completed, so check back often. There are over 200 files posted. There will be approximately 1,500 species in this field guide when it is finished. Visit this page to access the files that have been posted to date.
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, 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!
New Video Podcast
The Illinois Turtles video podcast can be found here! This video podcast is also available on YouTube.
Learning Standards Interactive Web Page
Looking for IDNR lessons to help you meet the Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core Standards, Illinois Social Science Standards or Illinois Early Learning Standards? Now you can easily find them with the new interactive Learning Standards Web page from the IDNR Division of Education. You can search by grade level, topic, learning standard and/or subject area. Try it today!
Central Illinois Educators: Fishing and Aquatic Ecology Programs Now Available from the IDNR
Educators, if you teach in any of the following counties, the IDNR can help you bring hands-on aquatic education to your students. These programs work to develop positive attitudes towards natural resources, conservation and fishing in young people. Lessons align with the state and national learning standards and are adapted to all grade levels. For more information or to schedule a program, contact Van Grissom at 217-720-3501 or
Adams, Brown, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Hancock, Iroquois, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Mason, McLean, Menard, Morgan, Moultrie, Piatt, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Vermillion
Project Squirrel Mobile Phone App
With the 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. 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. 
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.
We’re on Facebook!
Visit our Facebook page to find the latest updates about the materials and programs of the IDNR Education Section. Watch for our What Do You Know about . . .? series. Search for “Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Education.”
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