IDNR materials available as teachers prepare to head back to school   Send a link to a friend

Materials can be ordered online

[AUG. 1, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- As educators and students gear up to return to school, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is making a host of educational resources available to assist teachers in a range of subjects. Many materials are available in Spanish as well as English. They are offered through the department's Division of Education to traditional, parochial and home-based schools.

"It is important to the future of our state that young people learn about our natural resources," said Joel Brunsvold, director of the Department of Natural Resources. "The students of today are the environmental stewards of tomorrow. As a former teacher myself, I know how helpful it is to have these resources to supplement lesson plans."

Educational resources include books, CD-ROMs, posters and even artifacts. There are also lesson plans available and training workshops to help teachers who want to learn more about incorporating Illinois natural resources in their classroom. Materials are aligned with Illinois Learning Standards. Items are now available through an online order form. Go to, then click on the "Education" button in the right sidebar. A link is provided to the "online order form." [Or click here for the order form link.]

Brand-new resources include four 24-by-36-inch posters that contain information on both sides. "Illinois Mushrooms" depicts numerous mushroom species found in Illinois and provides information about their life history, structure and more. "Illinois' Forestry Industry" describes the value of Illinois' forestry industry to the state, including products and economic impact. "Mammals From Illinois' Past" depicts mammals that once lived in Illinois. "Native Americans and Nature in Illinois" shows the importance of nature to Native Americans, with illustrations and images of artifacts found in Illinois. Activity books are also available on each of the topics.

Teachers may also be interested in borrowing a "mammal trunk" or a "tree trunk." Developed by the IDNR Division of Education, these supplemental kits are available from lending locations statewide for loan to educators. Each trunk, which is a large plastic container, contains field guides, CD-ROMs and a DVD. The mammal trunk also includes fur samples, skulls, track and scat replicas, lessons, activity sheets, posters, and other items.

The IDNR Division of Education is also releasing two new lending trunks for educators. The "Illinois Fossils Trunk" contains everything a teacher needs for a unit on the fossils of Illinois. Contents include fossil molds, fossil hunt kits, fossil reference collection, field guides, posters, activities, a video and more. The "People and Animals from Illinois' Past Trunk" provides resources on prehistoric mammals, extirpated mammals, and Native Americans and their relationship with nature, which are all topics teachers can present by using the items in this resource trunk. Contents include mammoth and mastodon tooth replicas, species replicas, Native American games, activities, mammoth hair, posters, replica pottery, a video, reference books, natural items used by Native Americans, activity books, and more.

The trunks are housed at locations statewide. A two-week lending period is suggested, but loan periods vary from site to site based upon demand. To find the lending location nearest to you, visit Click on the "Education" button in the right sidebar. On the next page select the link to "list of educational programs." Check the list often, as new lending locations are still being added. [Or click here for the list.]

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Teachers who are interested in continuing education can attend the Environmental and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education program for 2005-2006. ENTICE workshops provide natural resources information, classroom activities and supplemental educational materials. When incorporated into lessons with students, the materials provided encourage and promote stewardship of our state's natural resources. The program also offers participants the opportunity to network with other educators in a friendly, cooperative learning environment.

These free workshops offer continuing professional development units for teachers. For the complete schedule and a registration form, visit
. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Workshops are open to all educators and are designed for targeted grade levels. Maximum enrollment for each course is 30 participants. To register, print, complete and mail the registration form to Illinois ENTICE, IDNR Education, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271; or complete the form, scan it and e-mail it to No fax or phone registrations are accepted.

The IDNR Division of Education now has nine Spanish-language versions of its activity books available. Each of these 24-page books can also be ordered in an English-language version. There is no charge for the items.

In another opportunity for classrooms, the Illinois State Water Survey sponsors a rain gauge project for schools, called the Rain Check Network. The ISWS provides a rain gauge and instructions to initiate the project. Students are asked to measure rainfall every day at about the same time. Student data is posted on the Web at the Rain Check site, where schools can submit daily rainfall totals, see entries or search the database. More information is available at An extensive listing of online resources for weather, climate, educational links and agencies is available by clicking on "Online Weather Resources for Teachers and Students" at the bottom of the home page.

Also assisting educators, coordinators for the IDNR statewide Urban Fishing Program will come to schools 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. The urban fishing program is appropriate for any grade level. Contact the Urban Fishing Program coordinator in your area.

  • 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

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]

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