Illinois Department of Natural Resources

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CONTACT: Bob Bluett, 217-782-6384


SPRINGFIELD, ILL. -- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources 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 3 through 5 focus on early French exploration, along with river and settlement geography. As a supplement to the Illinois history curriculum, students learn how wildlife helped Native Americans and early settlers survive. They then can see how wildlife is part of our lives today. The website also highlights the 20th century conservation movement, which changed how we think about and manage wildlife.

Toussaint Bouchard (Toos-SAHN BOO-shard), a fictional French trapper who travels and trades in the 18th century Illinois Territory, leads students through activities. Toussaint gives students who complete the voyage instructions on how to make their own "possibles bag," a small, easy-to-make leather pouch.

“Wild Illinois History is a beautifully designed website that gives an overview of how wildlife influenced Illinois’ development,” says Bob Bluett, wildlife diversity biologist for the Illinois DNR. “The website presents facts on history, culture, biology and wildlife management. Furbearing mammals are a prime focus, due to their economic value then and now.”

The website weaves purposeful sound, text and graphics into rich experiences. Website elements allow for quick downloads on dial-up connections. Brief story-telling slideshows are mixed with fun, interactive activities.

The student section of the page can be part of an organized classroom or school computer lab activity; individual students also can use the website on their own.

For teachers, “Wild Illinois History” offers lesson plans, activities, photos, posters and correlations to Illinois Learning Standards. Through online evaluations, students and teachers gave the website high marks, noting that the website was engaging, educational, and easy to use.

To visit “Wild Illinois History,” go to


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