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

Urban Nature Search

owl pellets

Wildlife is everywhere – even on your school grounds, in your yard, a ballfield, or city park! Wildlife scientists and urban biologists 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 … Read more

Nature Poetry

monarch

April is National Poetry Month! Celebrate with a study of nature poetry! Start by reading nature poems. Depending on the age and level of students make a study of the mechanics of poetry and how to write different kinds of poetry. Check out the list of books tagged ‘environmental writers‘ in our book database to … Read more

Resources to help with field investigations

field trip

Outdoor experiences in nature increase students’ problem solving abilities and motivation to learn in social studies, science, language arts, and math. Conducting field investigations help students become systems thinkers, learn the skills of scientific inquiry, and understand that science doesn’t only happen in a laboratory or classroom. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies developed … Read more

School Gardens

garden

Why a school garden? School gardens provide hands-on learning in a wide variety of disciplines including science, math, language arts, and visual arts. Being involved in school gardens gets students active, engaged, and teaches them important life skills such as responsibility. School gardening of fruits and vegetables also positively influences students’ health and nutrition attitudes … Read more

Celebrating Aldo

Aldo

Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher “standard of living” is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free. For us of in the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than … Read more