Wildlife is everywhere – on land, in soil, in water, and in the air. Wildlife scientists study wildlife to learn how they live and interact with the environment. These scientists may focus on one wildlife species or a group of species during their studies. They record observations made with their senses and other tools.
Help your students become wildlife scientists
Lead your students on a walk in the neighborhood around your school or building or a nearby park to look for wildlife. Tell students that they are using their eyes and ears to watch and listen for any signs of animal life (animal movement, calls, tracks, tunnels, droppings, etc.). Have students record their observations. In the photo, owl pellets were just found!
- Where do you see wild animals?
- What are the animals doing?
- How do the animals react?
- What signs of animals do you see?
Field biologists often get down on their hands and knees to “mimic” the tracks they see to help identify the animal and understand what it was doing at that particular moment. Have your students imitate the movements of wildlife.
- Raccoon – students get on their hands and knees and move from one spot to another, investigating the path they take
- Deer – students gather as a group, each looking in a different direction; students walk away then run and jump
- Insect – pairs of students work together to move all the “legs” at the proper time
- Bobcat – students get on their hands and knees and slowly move one leg and arm at a time as they stay as close to the ground as possible
Encourage students to pretend they are trying to observe wildlife in different habitats like wildlife scientists do.
- Crawl through a small cave to observe a bat
- Wade through a marsh to get closer to a beaver’s dam
- Hike through woods thick with trees and vines looking for a woodpecker
Check out these links for more information about wildlife scientists.
- Famous Wildlife Biologists
- Wildlife Biologist Profile
- PBS Kids – Real Scientists: Wildlife Biologist
- Missouri Department of Conservation – Conservation Career: Wildlife Biologist (YouTube video)
Here are some great WILD activities that correlate with wildlife and the job wildlife biologists do, some have additional Iowa information!
- Bird Song Survey – identify and describe the importance of bird counting as one means of inventorying wildlife populations
- Environmental Barometer – compare and contrast abiotic and biotic components inventoried at two outdoor study sites in an effort to investigate wildlife as indicators of ecosystem health
- Graphananimal – students will identify characteristic life forms in two different environments
- Habitrekking – students will summarize evidence about the nature of habitats, and generalize from evidence that people and wildlife have similar basic needs, share environments and are subject to the same or similar environmental issues
- Owl Pellets – students will construct a simple food chain
- Spider Web Geometry – recognize spiders as wildlife and generalize that people and wildlife share similar environments
- Surprise Terrarium – identify camouflage as an adaptation and describe the importance of adaptations to animals
- Too Close for Comfort – human behavior in shared habitats with wildlife
- Tracks! – identify common animal tracks
- Urban Nature Search – suggest ways that the environment affects the life forms that occupy it
- Wild Work – careers: examine careers related to wildlife management
- Blue Ribbon Niche – create a variety of representation of wildlife that are found in riparian zones
- Fishy Who’s Who – identify fish in their area and learn about the fish individually
- Micro Odyssey – examine, draw, paint, and identify microorganisms in pond water
- Water Safari – conduct a field investigation to discover wildlife, signs of wildlife and the location of water sources which wildlife may use
- Working for Wildlife – careers: simulated job fair and interviews
Cross-reference to these WILD Resources units for additional resources: