March 2010

Illinois Rain Garden Initiative Grant Applications Due by March 19, 2010

The Illinois Rain Garden Initiative grant program provides funds for the construction of a rain garden on public property. A rain garden is a depression that is planted with native wetland or aquatic vegetation. It is designed for and built in a location that will hold stormwater runoff or snow melt, allowing the water to be absorbed slowly by the plants and the soil. Rain gardens are desirable because they reduce stormwater runoff, improve water quality, allow for the recharge of groundwater supplies, increase wildlife habitat and often reduce the need for mowing and its associated costs and pollution. You’ll find the application forms at Teachers, not-for-profit organizations and community groups may apply. The maximum award is $1,000. For more information, contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Division of Education ( or 217-785-0973). The IDNR and Illinois Conservation Foundation administer this program. Funds are provided through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.   

Cache River Wetlands Visitors’ Center to Present Programs in March

Thursday, March 4, 2010, 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Cache River Wetlands Center, 8885 State Route 37 South, Cypress.

Movie Night: Is That Skunk? BBC production. Explore the secret lives of often misunderstood wildlife of the Cache River watershed. Discussion of the film will follow viewing. For more information call 618-657-2064.

Saturday, March 6, 2010, 10:00 a.m. Cache River Wetlands Center, 8885 State Route 37 South, Cypress

Geology of the Cache: Geology can reveal secret wonders about the natural history of a place.  The Cache River watershed is situated at a major junction of diverse climate, terrain and topography. After a slide presentation an optional hike is offered to observe some of these features. For more information call 618-657-2064.


Saturday, March 20, 2010, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.  Cache River Wetlands Center, 8885 State Route 37 South, Cypress  

All About Hummers!: These jewels of the sky have specific needs when it comes to food sources and nesting habitat. Learn about the natural history of hummingbirds and how to enhance your chances of having these fascinating birds as neighbors.

Forest Ecology Can Involve Your Students in Learning about the Ecology and Management of Illinois’ Forests

Forest Ecology is now ready for download at in the “Activity Books” section. This 48-page publication from the IDNR Division of Education is targeted to students of grades four through eight and contains many activities about the complex ecological relationships in our forests and how they are managed. The booklet is a revision of an activity book produced by the Illinois Department of Conservation in the 1980s. Preview and download your copy today!

Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest Application Deadline is March 15, 2010!

The 2010 entry form and guidelines for the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest are available at Students of grades kindergarten through 12 can learn about waterfowl and wetland conservation in this program as they design artwork depicting North American waterfowl species. The Illinois application deadline is March 15, 2010. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the IDNR sponsor this contest in Illinois. The Illinois “Best of Show” entry will be submitted to the national contest, and the national entry will be printed on the Junior Duck Stamp. These stamps are sold to raise funds to support the Junior Duck Stamp program and conservation education. For more information, contact or 217-524-4126.

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.

March 8-21, Online Illinois Frogs and Toads, online

March 27, The Effects of Climate Change on Illinois Plants, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe

April 10, Prying into Prions: Investigating Chronic Wasting Disease, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia

April 24, Illinois’ Invasive Species, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago

April 27, The Massasauga: Illinois’ Prairie Rattlesnake, Eldon Hazlet State Park, Carlyle

May 1, 2010, Pioneers and the Prairie, Boone County Conservation District, Belvidere

June 15, The Ohio River: History, Ecology, Commerce, Fort Massac State Park, Metropolis

Teachers, Get Free OutdoorIllinois Magazines While Supplies Last!

Surplus copies of 2009 OutdoorIllinois magazine issues are available to Illinois educators. To receive copies, visit complete the short form with your name and school address.

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 Illinois Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 19225, Dept. NL, Springfield, IL 62794-9225.

IDNR Programs Calendar included on Youth Programs Web Page

Visit to see the latest schedule of events for youth- and family-related programs from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. You’ll find many options to select from. Youth leaders and educators will be interested in the information as well. Sign up for the email list and receive weekly updates. Let’s all work together to get our youth involved in outdoor activities!

IDNR Division of Education Joins Facebook

Join us on Facebook for more information and resources. We have discussion topics for you to participate in as well. Go to and search for "Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Education."

For Illinois High School Biology Teachers: Prying into Prions: Investigating Chronic Wasting Disease 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.

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