Thursday, December 08, 2016

Help Gather Information for Bird Conservation

The 117th Christmas Bird Count starts December 14, 2016 and runs through January 5, 2017. This longest running Citizen Science survey in the world provides critical data on population trends. It is organized into circles, and each circle counts as many birds as possible on one day, either on a predetermined route, or at their backyard bird feeder. Data is compiled, and used to learn about long-term bird trends.

If you would like to participate, check out the searchable map to find a counting "circle" near you.

Check out Project WILD’s “Bird Song Survey” for a great activity about the purpose of counting birds for population information.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

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

January 15 – May 1, 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, regardless of grade level or educational setting.

Registration deadline is January 9, 2017  - you must register electronically (Activity #: 22007499991702). Registration fee: $305 (3 license renewal credits); $425 (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:; 515-494-3891

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Iowa Schools Encourgaged to Order Free Seedlings for Spring

Each school building and community may order one free packet of 200 bare-root seedlings, 50 each of four selected species. The seedlings, delivered in April or May, are often used as part of Earth Day/Week celebrations. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis until 200 packets are requested.
“Most people probably aren’t thinking about planting right now,” says Laura Wagner, DNR Trees for Kids Coordinator, “But because this program and our packets are so popular, we encourage folks to order early to get the best selections.” 
Interested schools and communities must complete a simple application form by April 1, 2017.  Those receiving packets will be asked to email at least one photo of the trees being planted and a short paragraph showing where and why they were planted.
Schools and communities may select from the following specialty packets:
Fall Color –Trees and shrubs with vibrant fall color 
Fastest Forest – Great along streams and wet areas, these grow at least 3 feet per year
Pollinator Packet – Provides vital host species for butterflies and other pollinators
Privacy Packet – Great to use as a visual barrier or along a fence line 
Spring Flowers – Create spring color with these flowering shrubs and small trees 
Storm Resistant Packet – These trees resist breakage from wind and ice storms 
Wild Edible Packet – Enjoy an edible landscape 
Trees for Kids is a DNR program funded by Alliant Energy, MidAmerican Energy, Black Hills Energy, ITC, Trees Forever, Iowa Woodland Owners Association and Iowa Tree Farm Committee, and administered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Forestry Bureau.
For more information about ordering no-cost Trees for Kids seedlings, contact Laura Wagner, DNR Trees for Kids Coordinator at 515-725-8456 or

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Using Local History in Your Classroom

A human community is a group of people who live and interact with one another in a specific region under relatively similar environmental, social, and political conditions. A natural community is a group of plants and animals that live and interact with one another in a specific region under similar environmental conditions.

Our human communities are essential for our daily life. They satisfy our needs for food, and shelter, as well as provide social interactions. Human communities are dependent on the larger natural community which contains the soil, water, air, plants, and animals on which the human community is sustained. The natural community supports itself and our civilizations.

Every community is unique. Each has its own historical background, natural resources, attractions and unique features.

Explore your community’s history with your students. Check out these websites to help get you started.
Project WILD is also a great resource. Look under Historical Values of Wildlife in the Expanded Topic Index.

Aquatic WILD suggested activities:
  • Watered-down History- investigate the history of a chosen waterway through research methods, recorded personal interviews, and public records
  • Where Does the Water Run?- design and implement a field investigation involving relationships between levels of precipitation, runoff, and percentage of impervious ground cover

Monday, November 07, 2016

Iowa’s Tch Team Science Champions

Iowa has the opportunity to establish an on-line professional learning community through the Teaching Channel. The goal is to develop a network of teacher leaders who are working to implement the Iowa Science Standards through three-dimensional teaching and learning. Teacher leaders from across the state representing a range of grade levels from K-12 are invited to participate. 

Iowa’s Tch Team Science Champions will be able to enroll in a 3-credit hour course for re-licensure or for graduate credit.

Criteria for participating as a Tch Team Science Champion:
  • At least three years of experience teaching science.
  • Currently teaching science at least part-time in a K-12 classroom.
  • A strong knowledge of the Iowa Science Standards.
  • A commitment to videotape various segments of his/her instruction and to sharing videos and piloted strategies/instructional models, lessons, and units with the grade-band team.
  • A willingness to actively participate in on-line discussion boards and a commitment to both providing feedback to team members and to receiving and using feedback from the team.

Applications due on November 20, 2016. 
Team Selection Nov. 20-Dec. 9
Informational Virtual Meeting December 14th at 3:30
Official “Start” Jan. 9

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Spreading our Wings with Science Standards Pollinators, Monarchs, and Conservation Education

February 3-4, 2017
9:00 a.m. Friday - 3:00 p.m. Saturday
Springbrook Conservation Education Center, Guthrie Center, Iowa
2473 160th Rd
Guthrie Center, IA 50115
Join us in learning how to utilize the new standards to promote the protection of natural resources (of monarchs and pollinators specifically) and to advance environmental education as a vital part of the K-12 Education. Educators and natural resource professionals that work with adult and mixed-age audiences will benefit from the opportunity to develop their skills using the best methods for learning and teaching science (at any age).
Learn from cutting-edge monarch and pollinator scientists who will present their research to the group.  
View the detailed schedule for more information about workshop activities and keynote speakers.
Registration Costs? $90 (meals, snacks, and beverages included).  Dorm-style lodging is available at Springbrook Conservation Edcucation Center for $15 per night. Traveling from a distance? You can reserve dorm space for Thursday evening also. See the workshop flyer for other nearby lodging options. A limited number of scholarships are available. If a scholarship would help you attend, please send an email to requesting an application.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Happy Bat Week!

Bat week is an annual international celebration of the role of bats in nature. Step outside around dusk and take a few moments to look for bats in your neighborhood.
Iowa is home to nine bat species: little brown bat, big brown bat, red bat, hoary bat, silver-haired bat, Indiana bat (federally endangered species), evening bat, eastern pipistrelle, and northern myotis.

Fun Bat Facts
  • A small bat eats between 1,000 and 2,000 small insects every night. Bats use sonar to find dinner when it’s pitch black out. Bats make noises, which bounce off the bugs and back to the bats’ ears, where the sound is picked up by the bats’ specialized hearing.
  • Bats are our only flying mammals in the state.
  • One of Iowa’s few true hibernators, bats hibernate all winter until there are insects to chow down on again.
  • Within three weeks of being born, young bats are taking flight. They grow quickly, being full-grown in about a month after birth. Young bats take off for their own roosts once they’re weaned.
  • Bats hang upside down because it allows them to roost in places where predators can’t reach them. It also allows them to get into the air faster by falling to achieve flight.

Helpful Websites
Bats Bats Everywhere
Bat Conservation International