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Research shows that when children learn and play outdoors they perform better in school, are healthier, more creative and are better problem solvers. The Iowa DNR provides tools to help you teach about Iowa's amazing natural resources and learn on your own.
An Introduction to Canoeing and Kayaking
Provides a basic introduction to canoeing and kayaking including types of paddling; equipment and terminology associated with canoeing and kayaking; basic strokes; paddling safety and tips to plan a canoeing or kayaking trip.
An Introduction to Outdoor Skills in Iowa
Provides a basic introduction to recreating in the outdoors including safety, dress, and ethics along with human interactions with natural resources.
Conservation Education Resources in Iowa
This guide lists agencies and organizations related to natural resources that provide resources and information useful to educators. Federal agencies, state agencies, public universities, county conservation boards, and conservation organizations are included. (The list does not include all agencies and organizations.)
Exploring Iowa's Natural Resources blog
Learn fun ways to incorporate natural resources into your classroom.
Iowa State-Fish Art Contest
Complete Contest Rules
2016 Entry Form
The Iowa DNR is partnering with the Wildlife Forever® State-Fish Art® Contest to host an Iowa State-Fish Art Contest. Students are encouraged to use their artistic skills to create an image of your favorite Iowa fish (see the eligible fish list) in its natural habitat.
The first place artwork in each judging category will be submitted for National Awards. First place winners at the state level will be honored at the annual State-Fish Art Expothis summer. Each student submitting an entry will receive a Certificate of Recognition.
Outdoor Explorations for Early Learners blog
Learn fun ways to incorporate nature into your early childhood classroom. Activities build on children's sense of wonder and invites them to explore nature and the world around them.
Planet Patrol series of short environmental videos (by kids for kids - 10 to 15 year olds)
Each vignette provides information related to environmental stewardship and specific actions Iowa youth and their families can take around the house to reduce their environmental footprint.
Pond and Stream Mats
Two four-color drawings depict areas of a pond and stream. Each set of mats includes several plastic fish that can be placed in different areas to show where they can be found. Dry erase markers can also be used to draw or write on the mats. Each measure approximately 3 x 6 feet so they are large enough for several students to gather round. You can also project the pond and/or stream image on a whiteboard or smart board.
Check with your local county conservation board to see if they have the pond and stream mats to borrow.
Teachers Going Green
A dynamic collection of lessons, resources, podcasts, and grant opportunities. Each lesson addresses a stated essential concept and skill from the Iowa and/or the Common Core State Standards.
The EnviroScape™ is a desktop model, developed by the Terrene Institute to demonstrate point and nonpoint sources and prevention of pollution in a watershed. Educators can demonstrate how human actions impact aquatic resources and how responsible actions can restore and/or protect those resources.
Check with your local county conservation board to see if they have an EnviroScape™ you can borrow.
Mobile Education Exhibit
The DNR presents an exciting way to learn about energy and waste topics - a mobile education trailer. The "Cause and Effect: Your Eco Story" exhibit, is an all-inclusive experience that includes informative displays, interactive kiosks, educational videos and more.
The Stream Table shows how sediment, vegetation, and flowing water interact in a dynamic stream system. The model can be used to provide an interactive, hands-on demonstration for participants of all ages. The large, water-tight box (measuring 36" x 6' 8") can be used outdoors as well as indoors. It allows the presenter to show a series of events that may take years to occur in a natural system.
Check with your local county conservation boardto see if they have an Stream Table you can borrow.
Citizen Science Programs
This volunteer water quality monitoring program includes training, a manual, and equipment for monitoring Iowa waters.
This program provides workshops and resources to help students collect and analyze scientific field data, inspiring young scientists through class projects and field trips.
Project Learning Tree's GreenSchools! Program
Through hands-on exercises and service-learning projects, students gain an increased awareness and understanding about environmental issues, the importance of sustainability in their own neighborhood, and their own role and responsibility to protect and improve their community and the environment.
Storm Sewer Stenciling
Instructions and Material List
Storm stenciling is a community service project that can be accomplished by persons of all ages including school environmental groups, girl and boy scout troops, neighborhood associations, civic groups, or church groups. By
stenciling a standard phrase such as "Do Not Dump Drains To Stream," the direct connection between our actions and water quality can be made.
For more information, contact Kathleen Hennings, 515-725-8359, Kathleen.Hennings@dnr.iowa.gov.
Field Trip Locations
Fish Hatcheries & Visitor Centers
The Iowa DNR Fisheries Bureau operates several fish hatcheries. All facilities are open for tours.
Nature Centers & Museums
The E.B. Lyons Nature Center, South Bluff Nature Center, Loess Ridge Nature Center, and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) museum offer excellent field trip opportunities.
Springbrook Conservation Education Center
This hands-on center, operated by the Iowa DNR, offers outdoor as well as indoor classrooms and support staff in a fascination setting. With its heated and air-conditioned facilities, it is a popular year round destination for school groups, teachers, organizations, youth groups, and many more.
State Parks & Recreation Areas
Recreation opportunities abound in Iowa State Parks and Recreation Areas. From hiking and camping to bird-watching and bicycling, each park offers outdoor enthusiasts a multitude of diverse and exciting adventures.