New this Month


September 2011


Grants from the IDNR Division of Education

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Division of Education is working in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and the Illinois Conservation Foundation to expand the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program! Due to this partnership, we are increasing the maximum available funds per Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant application to $1,000! The Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program provides funds to establish or enhance wildlife habitat on the school grounds or other public place and is available to teachers, youth group leaders and nature center personnel.  Butterfly gardens, rain gardens, prairie plots and wetlands are just some of the projects that qualify. Visit to access the application form. The application deadline is November 30, 2011. Additional funding for this program has been provided by the Jadel Youth Fund and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation of Skokie.


The Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant program can provide funding for you and your students to visit the natural wonders of our state. Teachers may apply for up to $500 to be applied toward transportation and substitute teacher costs. You’ll find the complete instructions and application form at The application deadline is January 31, 2012. Major sponsors for this program are the Independence Tube Corporation of Chicago and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation of Skokie.


ENTICE Workshop Registration is Open!

Visit to access the ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) workshop schedule for 2011-2012. Both in-person and online workshops are available. The ENTICE program is sponsored by the IDNR Division of Education and provides educators with background information on the topic, supplemental lessons and resources plus the chance to work with natural resources professionals. You’ll have the opportunity to network with other educators and earn Continuing Professional Development Units. The registration fee is $10.00 for in-person workshops and $25.00 for online workshops. All registration takes place through the Web site at Register for an ENTICE workshop today!


Field Trip Packs for Loan to Early Childhood Educators – More Lending Locations Added

The IDNR Division of Education’s Field Trip Packs for loan to early childhood educators (grades prekindergarten through three) are now available from 125 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


Lesson Revisions

Lessons have recently been revised for the Illinois Birds and Wild Mammals of Illinois supplemental units from the IDNR Division of Education. The Aquatic Illinois lessons are currently being updated, and revisions are posted online as they are completed. New features are available for Aquatic Illinois, too, including video podcasts about the major rivers in our state. You can access all of the information through the links at


Spanish-language Educational Materials

Do you work with students whose primary language is Spanish or are you a Spanish-language teacher? If so, have you used the Spanish-language resources from the IDNR? Visit to find the activity books and posters available in Spanish. New for 2011 is the Illinois Fishing Guide in a Spanish-language version, too.  


IDNR Education offers Field Trip Tips for Educators

Brought to you by the IDNR Division of Education, educators have a new tool to help you take teaching and learning to life. Visit to access information that will help you and your students have a successful outdoor experience at an Illinois state park. 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.


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 Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 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:


September—edible wild berries; stone tool chert; Turkey Bluffs State Fish and Wildlife Area; wood ducks; fishing with GPS; Jubilee Colonial Faire; Urban Collegiate Conservation Internship

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.


Urban Collegiate Conservation Interns

A new work-force development program took place this summer, offering Chicago-area college students the opportunity to work with mentors, exploring a variety of natural resources career opportunities and enhancing their career portfolios. See the full story in the September 2011 issue of OutdoorIllinois. For information about DNR internship opportunities, call Jason Brewer at (217) 557-1213 or e-mail


Iron Mountain Chert

What was the most precious resource mined during prehistoric time? Thousands of years ago people knew that the razor-sharp edge of a broken piece of chert (often called flint) could be used to cut through everything from thick mastodon hides to tough, woody vines. The high-quality chert at Iron Mountain, in Union County, was a valuable trading commodity throughout the area. See the full story in the September 2011 issue of OutdoorIllinois.


Project WET Teachers' Workshop at Volo Bog State Natural Area

Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Environmental educator Cyndi Duda will conduct this workshop for grades kindergarten through 12 instructors.  This program may include some outdoor time so participants should dress appropriately.  The $10.00 workshop fee is payable to the Friends of Volo Bog and includes refreshments and extra materials.  Registration is required. Register at or 815-344-1294. Group size is limited so please register soon. Volo Bog State Natural Area is located in Ingleside, Illinois, which is in Lake County.


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.


Illinois’ Natural Resources Trading Cards

Illinois’ Natural Resources Trading Cards are informational cards that contain an image on one side and facts on the other side. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, invertebrates, plants, fungi, microorganisms, rocks, minerals and fossils are represented. A poster accompanies each card set to depict all of the cards in the set and provide suggestions for use. There are five sets of cards. To request cards, please send a note on school letterhead to IDNR Education, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702. Please specify the set number(s) you are requesting. Teachers are allowed one pack of cards and one poster for each of the five sets.


CD-ROMs and DVDs

The following CD-ROMs and DVDs are available from the IDNR Division of Education. They contain lessons, student activities, videos and other supplemental resources. To place an order, send a request on school letterhead to IDNR Education, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702. Please specify by title the CD-ROMs and DVDs you are requesting. To learn more about the contents of each CD-ROM or DVD, visit


Exploring Illinois’ Natural Resources DVD – all grades

Illinois Biodiversity CD-ROM – grades 5-10

Kids for Trees CD-ROM – grades prekindergarten through three

Prying into Prions DVD – grades 9-12


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 are field guides to more than 1,000 species and 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.


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  


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