New this Month


June 2011


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 Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (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


Upcoming ENTICE Workshop

Registration is closed for the June 18 Identifying Trees and Making Leaf Collections ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) educator workshop from the IDNR to be held at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please send an email stating so to For details about the workshop, visit Continuing Professional Development Units are available to all ENTICE participants.


Cache River State Natural Area to Offer Educational Programs

The IDNR Cache River State Natural Area’s Wetlands Center is located on Illinois Route 37, three miles south of the town of Cypress. All programs will be conducted there, unless otherwise noted in the description. Call 618-657-2064 for more information.


What's this Tree? 

Saturday, May 28, 2011, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.  

Discover which tree's leaves smell like cereal and which tree a bird species uses as a weapon. Practice tree identification on an interactive hike on the Todd Fink - Heron Pond Trail. Meet at the access parking lot for the Heron Pond Trail. 


Out of the Wild

Thursday, June 2, 2011, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. 

Experience an up close and personal encounter with owls of the Cache River wetlands. A local rehabilitator will be show and speak about owls. 


Canoe the Cache

Saturday, June 4, 2011, scheduled times throughout the day

Reservations required. Call 618-634-2231 to make your reservations. See the Cache River by paddling into Illinois' bayou. Free guided canoe tours meander through the backwaters of the Cache to Illinois' largest bald cypress tree or Eagle Pond. Location: Lower Cache River Access near Cypress and Perks, Illinois.


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