What is a watershed?

DSM River corridor

A Watershed is an area of land that allows water to flow over or under its surface into a particular body of water. The boundaries of a watershed are determined by the guiding contours of the land surrounding that stream, river, lake, or bay. Because precipitation must flow somewhere, all land areas are a part … Read more

Reptiles and Amphibians – Iowa Creature Feature

Blanding's turtle

There are a wide variety and number of amphibians and reptiles that make Iowa their home. People are often surprised to learn of the variety of amphibians and reptiles we have in Iowa. Many of these animals are secretive and come out only at night and may not be easily observable. “Herps” is the name … Read more

Let’s keep wildlife wild

fawn

It is that magical time of year again when baby wildlife are born and hatched. We often stumble upon these cute critters when we are outside enjoying nature. If you find baby wildlife, they should be observed only and not handled or “rescued.” They may appear to be alone, but more than likely the mother … Read more

Iowa Invertebrates

crawdad

More than 97% of the animal species on Earth are invertebrates. Invertebrates are small animals that do not have backbones. There are many types of invertebrates, from fluid-filled jellyfish, and squishy earthworms to hard shelled insects like beetles, and eight-legged arachnids. This fascinating and diverse group of animals spans the globe – invertebrates live on … Read more

To Zone or Not to Zone

There are many issues involved when we are deciding how to utilize the land and our natural resources. How do we decide where to build new housing developments? How do we decide where to set aside land for wildlife and recreation? Figuring out how best to use the resources that we have for the greatest … Read more

Winter Camouflage and Coloration in Iowa’s Wildlife

goldfinch

For many Iowa animals, the stark landscape – bare trees and a bright white groundcover – makes them stand out more in the winter, which is good news for those who enjoy watching wildlife. However, for a few Iowa critters, winter is a time for them to blend in with the scenery. Jackrabbits They may … Read more

Nature Photography for Children

Maple's camera

Create Your Own Backyard Field Guide Children love cameras and children love nature. Combine the two and you have with a wonderful project to fill your days. We are going to create our own backyard field guides using nature photography. Consider the time of year and the age of your children / students. Think how … Read more

A breath of fresh air

county park in the fall

Just 15 minutes outdoors makes children happier and more relaxed! The same holds true for adults. Tips for planning outdoor time into your day. For parents: Do homework outside Add outdoor time into your schedule Visit a local park after dinner Backyard picnic once a week Visit local apple orchard or farmer’s market Outdoor reflection … Read more

Ecosystem Architects

watershed

What is an ecosystem? Ecosystems are the complex interaction of all the living and nonliving aspects of a particular area. The plants, animals, micro-organisms, water, nutrients, energy and air are all interdependent aspects of the ecosystem and form a balance that sustains itself. An ecosystem can be large, such as a mountain valley, an area … Read more

Celebrate Iowa’s Prairie Heritage

prairie grasses

September 13-19, 2020 is Iowa Prairie Heritage Week! Iowa’s landscape was once covered by vast rolling hills of prairie.  An estimated 85% of the land was prairie grass and flowers when European settlers first arrived. Since that time the Iowa landscape has changed drastically and today only 1/10 of 1% of our native prairie remains. … Read more

Classroom Phenology Notebook

Raspberries

“Many of the events of the annual cycle recur year after year in a regular order. A year-to-year record of this order is a record of the rates at which solar energy flows to and through living things. They are the arteries of the land. By tracing their response to the sun, phenology may eventually … Read more

Celebrate Iowa’s Catfish

channel catfish

Celebrate National Catfish Day (annually on June 25) by learning more about Iowa’s most abundant and widely distributed sport fish. Catfish are opportunistic bottom feeders that are active at night. They eat all types of living or dead animal and plant material and are most often attracted to odoriferous or “smelly” morsels of food. They … Read more