Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Celebrating Iowa Catfish

Celebrate National Catfish Day (June 25) by learning more about Iowa’s most abundant and widely distributed sport fish.
Catfish are opportunistic bottom feeders that are active at night. They eat all types of living or dead animal and plant material and are most often attracted to odoriferous or "smelly" morsels of food. They depend heavily on their sense of smell and taste to locate food.
Their characteristic barbels are highly sensitive to touch and contain taste buds as well. Catfish have taste receptors all over their bodies. It has been estimated that an adult bullhead has perhaps 100,000 nerve sensory sites on its body.

Iowa Catfish
channel catfish: abundant in most Iowa rivers and have been stocked in nearly all lakes and reservoirs; spawn in the late spring and summer in secluded, often enclosed, places along the bank or bottom – the male guards the eggs until they hatch; eat at all times, but are most aggressive night; an important part of the commercial fishery catch in the Mississippi River

flathead catfish: one of the largest catfish- commonly reach twenty pounds; a "big-water" fish found mainly in the border rivers and large interior rivers; usually in deep pools with mud bottoms; spawn in secluded hides during June and July – build nests and guard the eggs and young; feed mostly at night; an important part of the commercial fishery catch in the Mississippi River

blue catfish: primarily a “big river” fish; spawn in June and early July – construct nests similar to those of channel catfish; omnivorous and eat everything that is available; adults weighing up to 20 or 25 pounds are common

black bullhead: most common of the three bullhead species; abundant in most natural lakes and some man-made lakes; spawns in May or early June usually in weedy or muddy shallow areas; strictly omnivorous – eating nearly every conceivable thing in the water

yellow bullhead: found in clear streams, rivers, overflow pools, lakes and reservoirs; prefers streams with permanent flow, but avoids strong currents; spawns in May and early June in water from 1 1/2 to 4 feet in depth - nests are constructed by the male and the female deposits 2,000 to 7,000 eggs

brown bullhead: found in swamps, ponds, inland pools, lakes, reservoirs, impoundments, and the backwaters and tributaries of larger rivers; prefers clear, cool, well-vegetated waters with bottoms of sand, gravel or dark muck; spawns early in the spring, usually late April or May - male fish fan out a saucer-shaped nest in the mud or nests in natural cavities where the female deposits eggs; feed eagerly on nearly anything available, either living or dead - travel in schools and feed on or near the bottom; seem to be hungry at all times of the day and night

tadpole madtom: found in large interior rivers and the Mississippi River; females usually mate several times during the June through July breeding period; most active at night – eats insects and occasionally algae and other aquatic plants; have a poison gland at the base of the pectoral fin that secretes a mild but painful venom when danger is threatened

slender madtom: found in major tributary streams of the Mississippi River; live entirely in riffle areas of small or medium size streams

stone cat: largest of the madtoms; found in swift-flowing streams; spawns in the spring in areas of darkness, such as under rocks or in bank hides - builds a nest and guards the eggs and young; prefer stream riffle habitats, but are also found under rocks or weedy shorelines of lakes and ponds

freckled madtom:  an endangered species - added to Iowa’s species list in 1984; prefers medium-sized creeks to large rivers of low to moderate gradient with clear to moderate turbidity and silty-gravel or sand-gravel substrates; often found in riffles and pools where organic debris such as leaves or twigs tend to accumulate

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Trees For Kids Grant Available For Fall

Trees For Kids grant applications are now available for the fall 2016 grant cycle. The Trees For Kids grant program is designed to provide hands-on educational opportunities for Iowa youth by planting trees on school grounds and other public places. 

Iowa DNR forestry staff are currently setting up site visits with schools and communities interested in applying for the grant, which pays up to $5,000 in tree and mulch cost, and provides educational tree planting demonstrations to participating adults and youth.

This past spring, 20 schools and/or communities received more than $62,000 in Trees For Kids grants to plant more than 900 trees around the state. Over the life of these trees, they will save more than 310,000 kilowatt hours of electricity by shading buildings and more than 68,000 therms, by slowing winds and reducing building heat loss. 

During their lifespan, the 900 trees planted this spring will help reduce flooding by intercepting more than 39.8 million gallons of storm water, and will reduce more than 5.3 million pounds of atmospheric carbon dioxide through CO2 sequestration and decreased energy production needs and emissions. 

Trees planted around schools and in neighborhoods have also shown to give youth increased levels of concentration, lower levels of aggression, lower levels of obesity and fewer symptoms of ADHD.  Communities are made more livable by having a healthy, diverse tree canopy. 

To download the grant application, go to:  http://www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/Forestry/UrbanForestry.aspx

For more information, contact Laura Wagner, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau, at 515-725-8456.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Iowa STEM School+Business Innovation Conference

June 29, 2016
9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel (1800 50th St., West Des Moines)
Register Online

This conference will highlight the partnerships across Iowa that are connecting schools to local businesses and other employers. Best practices in aligning education to workforce will be shared by practitioners on the front edge—both industry and school leaders. Among the models to be profiled are the STEM BEST® (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) and STEM RLE (Redesigned Learning Environment) partnerships of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

TOPICS featuring...

  • Business roles, incentives and benefits of partnering with schools;
  • How to identify and recruit business partners;
  • How to identify and recruit education partners;
  • Policy and rule inhibitors to expansion of school+business partnerships;
  • Challenges encountered and overcome through school+business partnerships;
  • Co-teaching: roles for business alongside educators in courses and instruction;
  • Implications for teacher education;
  • A unique accomplishment or innovation by current STEM BEST and STEM RLE partners;
  • Building a school-wide culture around school+business innovation;
  • How to start a school+business partnership in your community.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Helping Students Protect the Environment and Live Well Workshop

 "The awareness of where our "stuff" comes from and natural resources used to
produce them is ...vitally important. Kids love to DO something about issues that matter."
--Elem Ed teacher

Part I:  Thursday and Friday, June 16-17, 2016 (9-4)
Part II: Saturday, November 12, 2016 (9-12:30)

Center for Outdoor Learning, Hinton, Iowa

Cost:  $75 tuition fee. You will receive a stipend of $75 when you successfully complete the course, thanks to grant support, making the course free!*

Explore with your K-8 students the products Americans use daily--the "stuff of life." These products have a life cycle. They are extracted, transported, produced, used and disposed of around the globe--including in Iowa. Study how this "stuff" is a primary source of environmental problems, and examine how this relates to life satisfaction. Then, identify individual and collective actions to address these challenges. Course content is real and relevant. Materials introduced are interdisciplinary and classroom-ready. Your students will learn essential skills and concepts from the Iowa Core and NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. 

For more workshop details or to enroll, visit the University of Northern Iowa website.

 *Stipends and the reduced tuition fee are provided through the generous support of the Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program and UNI EPSCoR. To receive the stipend, your students will need to complete a community engagement project. Your students' can write letters to the editor, post posters in the hallway for community members' viewing or a number of other options.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Exploring Iowa’s Natural Resources On-line Course (K-12 Educators)

September 18, 2016 – January 15, 2017

The goal of this course is to help you utilize a STEM-based approach that incorporates local natural resources as unifying themes to implement Iowa Core concepts in your curriculum. You will work in small groups and individually to create a network of contacts and resources to teach natural resource concepts. Group and individual assignments will build on each other throughout the course.
Participants will build a project-based learning unit for their personal teaching situation, so you can immediately incorporate the course resources and tactics into your teaching. It is offered for 3 license renewal or graduate credits, and also qualifies for credit for the STEM endorsement through Drake and Grandview.

Registration deadline is September 11, 2016 - you must register electronically (Activity #: 22007499991701). Registration fee: $175 (materials, 3 license renewal credits); $395.00 (materials, 3 Drake graduate credits). This course is being offered by AEA PD Online, a joint initiative by all of Iowa's Area Education Agencies. This course therefore uses AEA PD Online's alternative fee schedule for license renewal and graduate credit. Transcripts and credit will be issued by AEA PD Online instead of Heartland AEA.

For more information, contact: Barb.Gigar@dnr.iowa.gov; 515-494-3891.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Iowa Students Recognized for Iowa State-Fish Drawings

Grades 10-12 first place winner
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources partnered with the Wildlife Forever® State-Fish Art® Contest to host an Iowa State-Fish Art Contest.

The State-Fish Art Contest uses art to ignite children’s imagination while teaching them about fish and fishing. Entries showcased students’ favorite Iowa fish in its natural habitat. All entries were original hand-done artwork. Winners were selected based on creative expression, originality, visual appeal, and artistic merit. 

Individual winners:
Grades K-3
1st Place – Anne S., Homeschool
2nd Place – Madalyn S., St Mary & Mathias Catholic School
3rd Place – Katarina W., Benton Community Schools
Grades 4-6
1st Place – Henri G., St Mary & Mathias Catholic School
2nd Place – Heidi E., Allamakee Community Schools
3rd Place – Elly V., West Marshall Community Schools

Grades 7-9
1st Place – Carmen A., Benton Community Schools
2nd Place – Clayton S., West Marshall Community Schools
3rd Place – Jaiden H., West Marshall Community Schools

Grades 10-12
1st Place – Gayeon C., Regina Catholic Education Center

Artists who placed first in their age group will be honored with the display of their artwork on the prestigious Wall of Fame during the Forrest L. Wood Cup bass world championship on August 5-7 in Huntsville, Alabama. Every participant will receive a Certificate of Recognition. 

Digital images of Iowa’s winning artwork are posted on the State Fish Art Contest website.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Endangered Species Day

Celebrate Endangered Species Day (May 20) by learning more about Iowa endangered and threatened animals and plants.

Iowa’s wildlife has changed tremendously since Euro-American settlement (160 years ago). Many species have been extirpated. Others’ populations have dwindled to the point they now are listed as endangered. Still others have increased in number and range size. Many once extirpated have been reintroduced and now have stable populations. Wide ranging species (e.g., black bear, wolf, mountain lion, moose) occasionally reappear in Iowa as their populations in nearby states increase.

Iowa's endangered and threatened species law was enacted in 1975; 47 animals and 64 plants are listed as endangered (populations are low, scientists feel the species could become extinct). Another 89 plants and 35 animals are listed as threatened (populations are declining, may become endangered). A species can be listed as endangered or threatened at the state or federal level, depending on the extent of the area where the population is declining. Federally endangered species found within a state’s borders automatically are placed on the state list. Endangered species lists constantly change.

Many endangered or threatened species are specialists (have very restrictive habitat needs, eat only a few foods, or require specific kinds or sizes of habitat). The leading cause for a species becoming endangered or threatened is habitat loss.

Endangered or threatened species usually are monitored closely and their remaining habitats are protected. This special attention can pay off. An endangered species can be brought back from the brink and removed from the list instead of becoming extinct (e.g., peregrine falcon). The use of DDT (a now illegal pesticide) is the main reason this bird became endangered. DDT was banned, birds were reintroduced in suitable areas, and they were protected from shooting. After almost 30 years, the peregrine was removed from the federal endangered species list in 1998. In 2000, for the first time in about 40 years, five pairs of peregrines were documented nesting on the cliffs of the Mississippi River. Several of these falcons were identified as originating from Iowa releases or nests. In 2013, 15 territories were active and 13 successful nests produced 31 young around Iowa.

Thanks to a vast number of citizen scientists and volunteers who spearheaded the recovery of peregrine falcons in Iowa, this fascinating species has successfully returned to the state.

Helpful Resources
Living On The Edge: Profiles of Federally Listed Species in Iowa
Iowa's Threatened and Endangered Species Program
National Wildlife Federation
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Endangered Species Coalition