New this Month


July 2011


Field Trip Packs for Loan to Early Childhood Educators

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Division of Education has developed a new educator resource, and it’s arriving just in time for the 2011-2012 school year. Field Trip Packs for loan to early childhood educators (grades prekindergarten through three) will be available in July from lending locations throughout Illinois. Each pack is a backpack that contains hands-on equipment to encourage young children to engage in nature exploration. Suggestions for educators on how to incorporate natural-resources related topics into the curriculum are also included. To see the list of lending locations and the pack content list, visit


Spanish-language Educational Materials

Do you work with students whose primary language is Spanish? If so, have you used the Spanish-language resources from the IDNR? Visit to find the activity books and posters available in Spanish. Teachers in Illinois schools registered with the Illinois State Board of Education can have them shipped to the school at no charge. New for 2011 is the Illinois Fishing Guide in a Spanish-language version, too.  


IDNR Education offers Field Trip Tips for Educators

Visit to access information that will help you and your students have a successful outdoor experience at an Illinois state park. Developed by the IDNR Division of Education, this site has many resources for educators of students prekindergarten through grade 12. You can find the state park nearest to you and a list of its amenities. By clicking on the category names in the “Lesson Topics” feature, you can link to the IDNR lesson plans and materials that will help you teach about the habitats, organisms and/or history of each park. Lessons for pre-trip, on site and post-trip are available in downloadable PDF format. Field trip etiquette and planning are also discussed. After deciding on your destination, why not apply for an Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant? You’ll find a link to that information on this Web site, too.


Give Us Your Best Shot

Get your camera ready and look through your photo album. It’s time for the annual OutdoorIllinois photo contest. The 2011 contest is our 12th contest, and the February 2012 issue of OutdoorIllinois, where all winning images will be published, will be our eighth-annual photographic issue. New this year is a special category celebrating how Illinoisans are returning to the basics and involving the children in their families in nature. Other categories are: mammals; birds; invertebrates; other fauna (reptiles, amphibians, aquatic organisms); scenic/landscape; flora (plants, mushrooms); natural resource recreational activities; and young shutterbugs (same categories as above but taken by persons 12 years of age or younger). The photo contest is open to all Illinois residents and entries are due by 5:00 p.m. on August 5, 2011. Contest guidelines are available in the May 2011 issue of OutdoorIllinois and are posted at


Subscribe Today

If you enjoy the outdoors of Illinois, are interested in learning more about the Prairie State's great natural and cultural resources, the location of some of Illinois' most scenic state parks and recreational areas, or if you are looking for compelling stories, news and photographs of our cultural and natural resources treasures you will enjoy OutdoorIllinois. If your school library does not receive the magazine, educational institutions may receive a one-year (12 issues) subscription for $10 (regularly $15). For the discounted rate, submit the subscription information on school letterhead, along with a check made payable to OutdoorIllinois and mail it to IDNR, P.O. Box 19225, Dept. NL, Springfield, IL 62794-9225.


The Nature of Illinois

OutdoorIllinois, the award-winning monthly publication of the IDNR, contains a wealth of information about Illinois’ natural and cultural resources appropriate for incorporation into your lesson plans.  Articles in the next few months that may be of particular interest are listed below.


July – Illinois’ historic volcano yields rare earth minerals; the 100th Anniversary of Lowden State Park’s “Black Hawk” statue; the state-threatened marsh rice rat

August – Illinois youth wins national Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest; historic tree arboretum; lampreys; fall mushrooms; a mushroom spore print activity page

September—edible wild berries; stone tool chert; Illinois’ biggest erratic (boulder)

October – Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed October Illinois River Management Month and this issue will be dedicated to articles about the history and management of this great waterway.


Invasive Species

Hundreds of invasive species occur in Illinois, and, unfortunately, the list grows almost daily. Invasive species disrupt the ecological balance that has evolved in specific habitats, introducing unfamiliar flora and fauna into the communities of life in our wetlands, forests, prairies, rivers and lakes. If unchecked, invasive species will limit the many ways lands and waters can be used by future generations. The May 2011 issue of OutdoorIllinois discussed several current management issues related to invasives species, including Asian carp, viral hemorrhagic septicemia and a host of plants. These story files are available at


Summer Programs at Volo Bog State Natural Area, Moraine Hills State Park and McHenry Dam

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. For program reservations, contact 815-344-1294 or Moraine Hills State Park and McHenry Dam make up an IDNR complex located south of McHenry on River Road between State Highways 120 and 176. For reservations for Moraine Hills programs, please contact Volo Bog at 815-344-1294 or For information on the park itself, please phone 815-385-1624. Programs may be cancelled if minimum registration is not met 24 hours prior to the scheduled event date.


Guided Tours of Volo Bog

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

Explore North America's southernmost open-water quaking bog where the trees move with your steps, plants eat bugs and other strange things occur! Summer brings red-winged blackbirds, sandhill cranes, fiddlehead ferns and a warm southerly breeze to this Illinois Nature Preserve. No reservations are required. Groups of 10 or more, please phone for 815-344-1294 arrangements. All ages welcome. Tours last about one hour.


Art Submissions Sought for Summer Bog Art Show & Silent Auction at Volo Bog State Natural Area

Submissions accepted from June 8-29, 2011

Summer Bog Art Show (July 1 - August 6) celebrates bogs around the world. Artists (adults and youth ages 11 and up) are invited to contribute up to two pieces of artwork each. Visit for the registration form and complete instructions. 


Bird Walks at Volo Bog State Natural Area      

July 24, 2011, 8:00 a.m.

August 28, 2011, 8:00 a.m.

Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars and field guides or borrow from the leader. Walk length and time varies from one to more than three hours with weather and luck in birding! Meet in the parking lot. Walk is designed for participants ages 7 through adult. Registration is requested at 815-344-1294 or


Photos Sought for Moraine Hills State Parks' 14th Annual Nature Photo Contest

Photographers are invited to submit images in seven different categories. Print entries will be accepted from June 5 - July 9 at the Moraine Hills State Park office. Visit for details


Bird Walks at McHenry Dam     

July 9 and 16, 2011, 8:00 a.m.

August 6, 2011, 8:00 a.m.

Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars and field guides or borrow ours. Walk length and time varies from one to more than hours with weather and luck in birding! Walk is designed for participants ages 7 and up. Meet at the south end of the McHenry Dam parking lot. Registration is requested at 815-344-1294 or


Moraine Meanders at Moraine Hills State Park and McHenry Dam   

July 9, 2011, 10:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Discover prairie wildflowers and fascinating insects on this hike! Dress for the weather! No reservations required. All ages welcome. Meet at the Whitetail Prairie parking lot.


Habitat Work Day at Volo Bog State Natural Area   

July 23, 2001, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Have fun and make a difference! Join volunteer stewards in tackling exotic invasive species and re-establishing native plants. Volunteers will pull and cut exotic invasive plants. Dress in long pants, sturdy shoes and bring gloves (or borrow from those provided). The Friends of Volo Bog will provide light snacks. Meet in Volo Bog’s Visitors’ Center. Reservations required. Call at 815-344-1294 or email Adults and children (ages 7 and older) are welcome.


Habitat Work Day at Moraine Hills State Park and McHenry Dam   

Saturday, July 23, 2011, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Have fun and make a difference! Join volunteer stewards in tackling exotic invasive species and re-establishing native plants. Volunteers will pull and cut exotic invasive plants. Dress in long pants, sturdy shoes and bring gloves (or borrow from those provided). The Friends of Moraine Hills State Park will provide light snacks. Reservations required. Call at 815-344-1294 or email Adults and children (ages 7 and older) are welcome.


International Bog Day at Volo Bog State Natural Area

Sunday, July 24, 2011, 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

International Bog Day was established in Scotland to celebrate the beauty of bogs and raise awareness of these fascinating and rare ecosystems. This year's celebration at Volo Bog State Natural Area features:


Bats in Your Belfry??? at Volo Bog State Natural Area

Saturday, July 30, 2011, 6:50 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Volo Bog State Natural Area is home to the largest known maternity colony of little brown bats in Illinois! Come meet these fascinating little mammals in person. The program begins with a video and talk at Volo Bog's Visitors’ Center then caravans to the site's famous bat barn. Participants should bring lawn chairs and mosquito repellent.  Registration is REQUIRED at 815-344-1294 or


Arthropod Adventures at Volo Bog State Natural Area

Sunday, August 21, 2011, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Explore an old field for grasshoppers, beetles, bugs and spiders. Nature lovers will be amazed by the diversity. Arachniphobes will find new potential to overcome their fears! Wear long pants and meet us at the Picnic Shelter. Do not use insect repellent. Registration is requested at 815-344-1294 or Limited drop-ins welcome, but program may be cancelled if minimum registration is not met 24 hours prior to the scheduled event date.


IDNR Publications Web Page

Have you ordered or downloaded publications from the IDNR lately? Go to to see the wide variety of posters, activity books, books and other publications available about the state’s diverse natural resources. We have many items in both English- and Spanish-language versions.


Prying into Prions DVD

This supplemental unit for high school students explores prion diseases, including chronic wasting disease. In six lessons, students learn about transmissible spongiform encephalopathies by examining the role of proteins in organisms, the chemistry and properties of proteins, the genetic processes that create proteins, and how proteins can become pathogenic. Students also study how chronic wasting disease is affecting Illinois’ white-tailed deer herd and what control measures are being taken. Adapted by the IDNR Division of Education with permission from the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s original unit, the lessons are designed to be taught in sequence. A video is included. All lessons are correlated to the Illinois Learning Standards. This unit is produced in DVD format. It is only available to high school teachers in Illinois. Request should be made in writing on school letterhead and mailed to the IDNR Division of Education, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702.


Wildlife in the Classroom

Has a student ever brought an animal into your classroom and asked you to keep it? Have you ever found a feather or a bird’s nest and wanted to use it to supplement your lessons? Do you know the Illinois and federal laws that apply to these situations? Teachers often come in contact with wildlife or wildlife remains, willingly or not. It is important for you to know what to do in these situations. The IDNR Division of Education has produced a reference document for your use. Wildlife in the Classroom is not all-encompassing, but it will provide you with basic information about possessing wildlife and wildlife remains. You can download the publication at If you would like to read the entire Wildlife Code for Illinois, you can access it at  


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 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!


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