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New this Month - October 2019

Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant – Preliminary Application Due by October 31
The Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) can provide funds for teachers, nature center personnel and adults who are youth group leaders in Illinois (grades prekindergarten through 12) to enable students to develop or enhance wildlife habitat on the school grounds or another public place. Butterfly gardens, pollinator gardens, wetlands, prairie gardens, bird nesting boxes and bat roosting boxes are just some of the projects that qualify. You can find the application form, instructions and other relevant information through the Web page. The optional preliminary application deadline is October 31, 2019. The final application deadline is November 30, 2019. Funding for this program is provided by donations to the Illinois Conservation Foundation by the Jadel Youth Fund and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation.
Tree Health Tool Kit
Your students can become citizen scientists as they monitor the health of local trees through this unit developed by staff members of The Morton Arboretum. Activities about tree monitoring/pest detection, tree risk assessment, tree stress scenarios, data sharing and building awareness are included. Tools for monitoring are also part of the pack. Data collected is entered into the “Healthy Trees Healthy Cities” app. You can monitor the trees on your school grounds or in the local community. Targeted to middle school and high school students and based on Next Generation Science Standards MS-LS2-4 and HS-LS2-7, the Tree Health Tool Kit is available for loan from six locations in northeastern Illinois in a pilot program from the IDNR. The activities are also great for use by youth groups, Envirothon, home-schooling educators, afterschool programs and youth camps. You can find the lending locations here. Make your reservation today!
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.
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 workshops for fall and winter 2019-2020. Visit the ENTICE Web page for details, the complete list of workshops and to register. Experience ENTICE!
Introducing Early Childhood Students to the Nature of Fall
Kendall County Forest Preserve District, Yorkville
October 5, 2019, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Fall is a great season for young children to explore nature! There is so much to see and learn. Join us to discover what nature can tell us in fall. We’ll take a hike to put our knowledge to work and will feature the Field Trip Pack from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We'll be incorporating animal tracks, animal signs, seeds and changes in leaves, too. 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. Although targeted to grades prekindergarten through two, 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. Professional Development Hours are available. REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP IS CLOSED. TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST, SEND AN EMAIL MESSAGE TO DNR.TEACHKIDS@ILLINOIS.GOV STATING THAT YOU WANT TO BE ADDED TO THE OCTOBER 5 WORKSHOP WAITING LIST.
Illinois’ Urban Wildlife
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago
November 9, 2019, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Wildlife is all around us, even in downtown Chicago! Educators of grades prekindergarten through four 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 how to use urban wildlife topics as the foundation for locally relevant, place-based teaching. Receive supplemental educational materials to enhance your teaching. Teachers of other grade levels are welcome to register and attend the workshop but may need to adapt the materials as appropriate. Professional Development Hours are available. REGISTRATION FOR THIS IS CLOSED. SEND A MESSAGE TO DNR.TEACHKIDS@ILLINOIS.GOV TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST.
Tracks, Scats and Habitats
Starved Rock State Park, Utica
November 23, 2019, 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
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 four, other educators are welcome to register and attend the workshop but may need to adapt the materials as appropriate.  Professional Development Hours are available.
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 will 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.
October Kids for Conservation®: Bird Songs and Calls
The October edition of the IDNR Kids for Conservation® Web page features the topic of “Bird Songs and Calls.” 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.
October Program Schedule from the Illinois State Museum
The following programs are being presented by the Illinois State Museum (ISM) in Springfield during the month of October. For additional information about any of the programs, please contact or 217-558-6696. Unless otherwise listed, events take place at the at the Illinois State Museum at 502 South Spring Street in Springfield. Daytime events, unless otherwise listed, are free with admission.
Ogden-Fettie: A Native American Floodplain Earthwork Complex in the Central Illinois River Valley
Paul Mickey Learning Series presented by Dr. Michael Wiant
Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Ogden-Fettie is among the oldest Native American floodplain earthwork complexes in the Midwest. While preparing the property for long-term hay production, archaeologists had an opportunity to collect artifacts from the site. When combined with previous archaeological work at the site, the results provide perspective on the rise of Havana culture circa 2,100 B.P., subsequent use of the site and a long-standing theory that several of the mounds were encompassed by a moat. When this study is coupled with new research on artifacts collected by the Odgen family, we learn that the Ogden-Fettie site is a key to our understanding of Havana culture and its domination of the Illinois River valley for nearly four centuries. Research by Ken Farnsworth, Montana Martin, and Kelvin Sampson will be referenced in this talk. Each month, the Paul Mickey Learning Series features a different speaker and topic in the Auditorium at the Illinois State Museum.
Get Creative Super Saturday
Saturday, October 5, 2019, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Free with admission
Come celebrate all the ways that people can express their creativity in their free time. Learn about hobbies and crafts with displays, games and crafts. In addition to trying various arts and crafts with hands-on activities, visitors will enjoy an exhibit of photographs, art, quilts and more created by ISM staff as part of the Springfield Area Arts Council’s “On My Own Time” program. Members of the Prairie Weavers Guild will be demonstrating weaving and spinning in honor of National Spinning and Weaving Week. You are sure to go home inspired to get creative at home. Super Saturdays offer thematic activities recommended for children ages 5 and up each month. Activities take 30-40 minutes to complete and are included with Museum admission. Parents and families are encouraged to participate. For additional information, please contact or 217-782-6044. The series is sponsored by Bank of Springfield.
I Spy... Story Time
Tuesday, October 8, 2019, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Free with Museum admission
I spy with my little eye… shapes and colors! Shapes and colors are all around us, found in nature and in art. What shapes and colors can you find in our stories and craft? Story Time is designed for preschool children ages 3-5 and their caregivers. On the second Tuesday of each month, visitors will enjoy picture books, a craft and objects from the Museum’s collections. For additional information, please contact or 217-782-6044. Story Time is sponsored by Bank of Springfield.
Noah Derksen
Music at the Museum Series
Thursday, October 10, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Fee: $10 adults, $8 Museum Members and Children under 12
Born and raised in the heart of the Canadian prairies and maturing on the west coast of British Columbia, Noah Derksen writes with the groundedness of harsh Manitoba winters mixed with the optimism of British Columbia’s coastline. With a self-described genre of “contemplative folk”, Noah’s introspective nature is immediately apparent, felt through honest and poetic lyricism alongside aesthetic musical arrangements. He'll be joined by the very talented Elise on violin. Music at the Museum is a monthly concert series produced by Chris Vallillo featuring the best in contemporary and traditional folk and acoustic music of all styles. Concerts are held the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Museum auditorium. Tickets are available at the door. For more information on the featured acts and a full series schedule, visit
The Past Tense and the Present (is Still) Tense: Travel in Northern Greece, Albania and North Mecedonia
Brown Bag Program presented by presenter Dr. Richard Leary
Wednesday, October 16, 12:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Research and Collections Center
1011 East Ash Street, Springfield, IL
Free, donations appreciated
Richard Leary will tell of a trip that covered an immense time, from the Neolithic to the political and economic tensions of the present. He visited Greek, Roman and Byzantine ruins, churches and museums, witnessing the results of 500 years of Ottoman oppression as well as Nazi and communistic oppression. Enjoy tales of lovely scenery, good food and great wines. Join us for a taste of the history and scenery but not the food and wine. Bring your lunch and join us for a different speaker and topic on the third Wednesday of each month. Brown Bag Lectures are held at the ISM Research and Collections Center at 1011 East Ash Street in Springfield. The Collections Center must be accessed via the gate on Ash Street and approached from 11th Street or further east due to the rail closure at Ash and 10 ½ Streets.
Play Museum Closed on Sunday, October 20
The Play Museum exhibit will be closed to the public on Sunday, October 20, 2019, for a Museum Society member event. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause. The Play Museum will resume its normal hours of operation on Monday, October 21, 2019.
Halloween Family Members Event
Sunday, October 20, 2019, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Free with registration for members only
Don your costume and come to the Museum for an afternoon of family fun. Activities will include “bobbing” for apples, Halloween crafts and fun creepy creature films in the Auditorium. Participants can enjoy a flashlight tour of the “Play Museum in the Dark” decked out for the holiday. This event is free with registration for members of the Illinois State Museum Society. Members with any membership level are invited. Visit to register by Sunday, October 13, 2019. If you are not a member you can also join the Society or renew your membership while registering. For more information or to register by phone contact or 217-782-6044.
Museum After Hours: Rockin’ Halloween
Friday, October 25, 5:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.
Fee: $15 non-members, $10 members
Come celebrate Halloween and the opening of two new art exhibitions at the Museum. Enjoy music performed by Rock of Ages, wine from West of Wise Winery, beer from Obed and Isaac’s and fun Halloween activities. Costumes are encouraged. The first new exhibition, “Rocked and Rolled,” playfully pairs music-inspired art and specimens from the Museum’s geology collections. The second exhibition “Eleanor Spiess-Ferris: Daphne’s Sister” features engaging work by Chicago artist Eleanor Spiess-Ferris. Tickets are $10 for ISM Society members and $15 for non-members and include one beverage. Additional beverages and food will be available for purchase. Visit for tickets or purchase at the door. All event proceeds support educational programs at the Museum.
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 here 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 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 – Bird Songs and Calls
The Bird Songs and Calls video podcast can be found on the Podcasts page. This video podcast is also available on YouTube.