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“Are you here for frog school?”

  • 3/21/2023 11:43:00 AM
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Iowans who are graduates of “frog and toad school” have collected data on more than 2,200 wetlands since 1991, providing an incredible record of activity. The goal for this year’s graduates is to add to that legacy.

“It's rare to have such a broad set of data collected over so many years on one species, much less a whole group of vulnerable species,” said Stephanie Shepherd, coordinator for the frog and toad survey for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Iowa DNR needs volunteers in northeast and northwest Iowa. There are two in-person courses scheduled for April with seats available:

  • Clayton County, April 4, at the Osborne Nature Center
  • Buena Vista County, April 11, at Gabrielson Park

There is a $5 fee to cover workshop materials. The courses begin at 6:30 p.m. and run for about three hours. To register, go to

“We are looking for people who are interested in the outdoors and who are detail oriented,” she said. “To do a survey, you need time and patience, good note taking skills, and a computer with an internet connection.” The total commitment for the summer is about 8 to 10 hours.

Part of the training includes images to identify each of the 16 frog and toad species in Iowa visually, and recordings to identify them by call.

“You can check out a few of those calls in our new wildlife sound library at,” Shepherd said.

Current graduates are a mix of age, gender and of backgrounds, ranging from a high school student to a retired economist, to a grad student, a bee keeper and a plumbing and heating technician nearing retirement.

The frog and toad surveys are conducted three times during the summer, once each for the singing chronology – early species, middle species, late species. Goals of the survey is to add to the existing data to look at trends over time, to update distribution maps and to get a better understanding of frog and toad breeding.

For more information, contact Stephanie Shepherd, wildlife biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-230-6599.