New this Month


February 2011


The Illinois Birds: Volume I, Raptors Poster has Arrived!

Order your copy of the new Illinois Birds: Volume I, Raptors poster from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Illinois Audubon Society! This 24” x 36” poster depicts 24 species of hawks and owls, showing most of them in both perched and silhouette views. The back of the poster contains information about the species and their adaptations. Visit and place your order today! This poster was made possible in part by a donation from the Illinois Audubon Society.


NEW! Illinois Rain Garden Initiative Grant Applications Being Accepted Now!

Applications are now being accepted for the Illinois Rain Garden Initiative grant program. Schools and community organizations may apply for up to $1,000 to develop a rain garden on public property. The application deadline is February 28, 2011. Rain gardens have many educational and ecological benefits. Do you have a storm water runoff problem that a rain garden could help alleviate? If so, complete and submit your application today. Visit for more information and the application materials.  This program is sponsored by the Illinois Conservation Foundation in cooperation with the IDNR.  Funds are provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Earth Day in the Parks Registration is Open

Get your students involved with natural resources stewardship through the Earth Day in the Parks program from the IDNR! Participating state parks will offer students the opportunity to get their hands dirty and experience nature as they perform duties such as removing invasive exotic plants, planting native trees and wildflowers and building and installing bird nesting boxes. The list of participating parks and their associated projects is posted at . Instructions and the application form are also available at that Web address. Applications will be accepted from January 1 through February 28, 2011. For more information, contact the IDNR Division of Education at or 217-524-4126.


Illinois Birds and One Bird – Two Habitats Lessons

The Illinois Birds and One Bird – Two Habitats lessons from the IDNR have just been revised. You can access them at Targeted to grades four through eight, these lessons can help students understand and gain interest in birds.  Add the new Illinois Birds: Volume I, Raptors poster, borrow an Illinois Birds trunk and you’ll be set for some hands-on lessons and activities!


Enjoy the Wonders of Winter at Volo Bog State Natural Area and Moraine Hills State Park

Reservations are requested for most programs (and required for some). See the descriptions below. To make a reservation, phone 815-344-1294 or email Limited drop-ins are welcome, but the program may be cancelled if the minimum registration number is not met 24 hours prior to the event. Volo Bog State Natural Area is an IDNR site located in Ingleside on Brandenburg Road west off U.S. Highway 12 between State Highways 120 and 134. Moraine Hills State Park and McHenry Dam are an IDNR complex located South of McHenry on River Road between State Highways 120 and 176.


Guided Tours of Volo Bog   

Most Saturdays and Sundays, 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.      

Volo Bog becomes a fairyland of winter wonder!  Tamaracks stand stark against the cold sky, rustling their naked knobby branches among the calls of winter birds. Rare visitors such as pine siskins or crossbills sometimes come south to feed on seeds of the tamaracks and other pines.  Pitcher plant colonies become easy to spot among the mosses, and footprints of mammals reveal the night wanderings of Volo Bog's more secret residents. Guided tours of Volo Bog can reveal more subtle discoveries and often conclude with a cup of hot cocoa. No reservations are required but, groups of 10 or more, should phone 815-344-1294 for special arrangements.  All ages welcome (minimum age 5 recommended). Tours last up to one hour.


Natural Area Habitat Restoration Work Days at Volo Bog State Natural Area, Moraine Hills State Park and McHenry Dam

Join a team of volunteers dedicated to healing the land through seed gathering, invasive species removal and other projects. For further information and to register, contact 815-344-1294 or


Bird Walks at McHenry Dam  

February 5, March 5 and 26, 8:00 a.m.

Meet at south end of McHenry Dam Parking Lot

Enjoy winter residents including juncos, tree sparrows and possibly bald eagles through the winter. Then watch for the return of migrating ducks as the ice begins to thaw in March. Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars and field guides or borrow ours. Walk length and time varies from one to more than three hours! Walks are co-sponsored by the McHenry County Audubon Society and led by its members. These walks are targeted to adults and attentive children seven years old and older. Reservations are requested. Contact park staff at 815-344-1294 or to make your reservation.


Bird Walks at Volo Bog State Natural Area 

February 13, March 13 and 19

Meet in the Parking Lot

Enjoy watching migrating birds in a variety of habitats. Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars and field guides or borrow ours. Walk length and time vary from one to more than three hours! Walks are co-sponsored by the McHenry County Audubon Society and led by its members. These walks are targeted to adults and attentive children seven years old and older. Reservations are requested at 815-344-1294 or .


 Animal Tracking at Volo Bog State Natural Area

 February 6, 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Who went there? Was it a rabbit or a squirrel? A vole or a mouse? A coyote or a fox? The Volo Bog Naturalist will lead this program that begins indoors with a look at how animals walk. Their gate determines their track pattern, an important component to identification. The program then heads outdoors to search for tracks, prints and some of the makers themselves. Dress for the weather with good winter foot gear! This program is targeted to adults and children ages 5 and up. Reservations are requested at 815-344-1294 or .


Bluebird Workshop at Volo Bog State Natural Area

March 19, 12:30 p.m. - 2:15/2:45 p.m.

Casual bird lovers, potential new monitors and veterans alike are invited to this workshop. As cavity-nesters, bluebirds are dependent on old woodpecker holes and other natural tree cavities. Bluebird populations declined by the mid-1900s, but they have made a remarkable comeback thanks to the efforts of bluebird monitors across North America. Monitors build bird houses and place them on trails. The first part of this workshop explores the history of this beautiful little gem of blue. The last part discusses how to build a bluebird box and establish a trail. Monitoring and reporting is an integral part of being a bluebird monitor as is learning how to discourage non-native competitors. Workshop registration is open to veteran and potential new monitors as well as those just interested in learning more about bluebirds (no monitoring required). Reservations are required. Call 815-344-1294 or email to make your reservation


 New Lending Location in Chicago for IDNR Resources Trunks

The popular resources trunks from the IDNR have a new lending location added to the list of sites in Chicago. We welcome Shedd Aquarium to our lending sites! Please contact the staff at Shedd Aquarium and make a reservation to pick up a trunk soon. We are sorry to be losing the Harris Loan Program at The Field Museum as a lending site, but for those of you who borrowed trunks through them, please give Shedd Aquarium a try! Go to to link to each of the 10 trunk topics and their associated lending sites. Make a reservation today!


IDNR Cache River Wetlands Center Programs

Houses! That's for the Birds!

February 12, 2011, 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Cache River Wetlands Center, Cypress, Illinois

Please call 618-657-2064 for more information.

Discover the differences in nest construction for and by bird species. Be able to identify the birds in the neighborhood by the nests you see. Construct your own nest and build a nest/bird box for a warbler or eastern bluebird. The program is free of charge but please call 618-657-2064 to register.

 Flying WILD!

Saturday, February 12, 2011, 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Touch of Nature Environmental Center, Makanda

Registration required. Cost: $15 by February 5; $20 after February 5. To register, contact Kimberly King-Wrenn (; 618-998-5933).

 Attention Cub Scout, Brownie and Junior Scout leaders and first- through fifth-grade educators. Flying WILD! is an education program that provides interactive activities to engage children in real-world learning that helps them understand the importance of migratory birds and their conservation. Activities are correlated to Scout badges and the Illinois Learning Standards. Continuing Professional Development Units are offered for educators.


ENTICE Workshop Registration

Register soon for ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) educator workshops from the IDNR. Visit and enroll now! You won't want to miss the background information, supplemental resources, networking with other educators and opportunity to work with natural resources professionals. Continuing Professional Development Units are available to all ENTICE participants. Upcoming workshops are listed below.


February 14-27, 2011, Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Development, Online

March 14-27, 2011, Illinois Frogs and Toads, Online

March 25-26, 2011, The Greater Prairie-chicken, Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, Newton

April 30, 2011, Prairie School Gardening, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe

May 21, 2011, Illinois Butterflies, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago

June 18, 2011, Identifying Trees and Making Leaf Collections, The Morton Arboretum, Chicago


Important Information for Teachers Regarding the Arbor Day Poster Contest

The National Arbor Day Foundation has discontinued the Arbor Day Poster Contest. The IDNR will no longer offer this contest.


Change in Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest in Illinois

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now the exclusive sponsor of the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest in Illinois. For more information about the program, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Barrington office (847-381-2253). To access the application form, visit 


Wildlife Prairie State Park Events

The Wildlife Prairie State Park in Hanna City (near Peoria) is hosting the following event in February. See details below.

Boy Scout Badge Day- Oceanography

This program provides a structured curriculum for Boy Scouts to earn merit badges. Each month a different topic is scheduled. Some badges have pre- or post-requirements before the badge counselor will sign the blue card. Space is limited.
*First Saturday of the month
*10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
*Bring a lunch.
*Cost: $25 for non-members/members $20 (unless noted)
*PRE-REGISTRATION and PRE-PAYMENT ARE REQUIRED. Call 309-676-0998 extension 6758 or email to register.
*Parents and family members staying in the park during the session must pay admission.


Order Illinois’ Natural Resources Trading Cards Set #5 Now

Illinois’ Natural Resources Trading Cards Set #5 and poster are available (one set per teacher) by written request on school letterhead. The 63 cards in the set illustrate and provide information about species found in our state, representing mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, invertebrates, plants and fungi. When combined with the first four volumes in this series, teachers have 315 resources cards to access and use. The poster illustrates all of the cards in the set and provides suggestions for helping you to meet the Illinois Learning Standards and Illinois Early Learning Standards. Do you have all five sets of resources cards? If not, request your missing set(s) by number when you send your request. Mail requests to IDNR – Education, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702


Revised Biodiversity of Illinois CD-ROMs

The Biodiversity of Illinois, Volume I: Aquatic Habitats, Biodiversity of Illinois, Volume II: Woodland Habitats and Biodiversity of Illinois, Volume III: Prairie and Edge Habitats CD-ROMs have just been revised! These field guides to more than 1,000 species provide a wealth of information for educators and students to use. Order your copies by written request on school letterhead and mail to IDNR – Education, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702.


We’re on Facebook!

Visit our Facebook page to find the latest updates about the materials and programs of the IDNR Education Section. You’ll also find images from ENTICE workshops!


Fishing in Your School

Do you teach in any of the following counties?

Adams, Brown, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Hancock, Iroquois, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Mason, McLean, Menard, Morgan, Moultrie, Piatt, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Vermilion


If so, let the IDNR help you establish a fishing program. We can assist with education and equipment to make fishing a talked-about, popular activity at your school.


Several school fishing programs are available. One is a physical education-based fishing program for middle school and high school students. Students are taught the basics of fishing at school (45-60 minutes) and then are taken fishing during their physical education classes during the last two to three weeks of the school year. Other fishing programs are mainly for younger students and include school-time field fishing trips and after-school fishing trips. For both of these programs, it is beneficial to invite parents/grandparents to accompany students to help them with fishing.


For more details or to register your students contact Herb Dreier, Coordinator, Central Illinois Urban Fishing Program, at 217-935-6860 extension 238, cell 217-622-4266 or


Illinois Trapper Education Online Course

The IDNR offers an online course for those interested in learning to trap. People who are required to complete a course before purchasing a trapping license now have two choices. They can take a full-day course in the classroom or complete half of the requirement online and half in the classroom, where they learn hands-on skills such as setting traps and preparing pelts for sale.


Courses are free. The IDNR encourages all trappers, regardless of age, to take a course. First-time trappers under 18 years of age must complete a course and pass a written exam before they are allowed to purchase a trapping license. Those under 16 years of age must also have written permission from a parent or guardian before purchasing a license.


Illinois Trapper Education Online ( covers topics such as trapping equipment, laws and ethics through online film clips, reading materials, quizzes, photos and illustrations. Students can exit the course and resume work where they left off at any time. The course is accessible using a basic dial-up connection, although high speed connections work best.

At the end of the Internet course, students must successfully complete the final exam online and download a printable document of completion. Students must present the document when attending the four-hour training session with instructors. To locate an instructor-taught course, visit or call 1-800-832-2599. The Ameritech Relay for the deaf and hearing impaired is 1-800-526-0844.


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


Urban Fishing Program

Coordinators for the IDNR statewide Urban Fishing Program will come to your school and conduct programs aimed at getting kids interested in fishing and the outdoors, while promoting environmental stewardship. One part of the program involves actually taking kids fishing during May and September, if a nearby lake is accessible. Teachers may continue the program on their own after the initial session, with the assistance of IDNR personnel. Contact the Urban Fishing Program Coordinator in your area. The urban fishing program is appropriate for any grade level.

Chicago: Brenda McKinney 847-294-4137

Chicago Suburbs: IDNR Staff 847-294-4137

Northwest Illinois: IDNR Staff 815-625-2968

Central Illinois: Herb Dreier 217-782-6424

Southern Illinois: Mark Yehling 618-462-1181