The World of the Whitetail is a new set of teaching
trunks filled with activities that are targeted for students in the
6th-8th grade. Twenty-four different hands-on activities explore
subjects such as biology, ecology, wildlife management, social studies,
history, math, reading, and creative writing. The activities in the
trunks were developed by Beth Mittermaier and John Cler, experienced
educators at the middle school level, with input from DNR Wildlife
Get your class thinking about the white-tailed deer, Wisconsin's most popular wild animal. Try out this new "Deer Talk" activity
before you check out the trunks. Or, view the "Checking Out the
Options" activity below, which is part of the trunk. Students can also
read about Wisconsin's state wildlife animal on EEK!
Whitetails Unlimited is a national non-profit grass
roots conservation organization supporting educational programs, habitat
conservation, and preservation of the hunting tradition. They
contributed substantial funds to create twenty sets of trunks from the
original proto-type that DNR developed.
Teachers may check out the trunks thorough any one of
Wisconsin's 12 Cooperative Education Service Agencies or at six DNR
offices listed below the activity. Typically, teachers check out the
trunks for two weeks, the first week to review the contents of the
trunks and the second week to conduct the activities.
Activity: Checking Out the Options
Wisconsin Model Academic Standards:
C.8.9: Evaluate, explain, and defend their investigations
F.8.8: Investigate interdependence in populations and ecosystems
C.8.1: Orally communicate information, opinions, and ideas
C.8.2: Listen to and comprehend oral communications
C.8.3: Participate effectively in discussion
Where can I get a trunk? Here's who to contact. Click on the name to send an e-mail (not all contacts have e-mail):
Cooperative Education Serivce Agencies (CESA) Contact information:
If a trunk is not available through your local CESA, contact the nearest DNR office to borrow a trunk.
- CESA #1 Pewaukee, Amanda Nick (262) 787-9500, ext. 9538
- CESA #2 Milton, Connie Isackson (608) 758-6232,ext. 339
- CESA #3 Fennimore, Jenni Pink (608) 822-3276, ext. 239
- CESA #4 West Salem, Mary Devine (608) 786-4800
- CESA #5 Portage, Janet Gaber (608) 742-8814, ext. 277
- CESA #6 Oshkosh, Sarah Loughrin (920) 424-3418
- CESA #8 Gillette, Lynda Zeitler (800) 831-6391 ext. 266.
- CESA #9 Instructional Media Center, Liisa Eyerly (715) 682-2363, ext. 168
- CESA #10 Chippewa Falls, Instructional Media Center (715) 720-2069
- CESA #11 Turtle Lake, Mary Matusewic (715) 986-2020, ext. 2165
- CESA #12 Instructional Media Center, Liisa Eyerly (715) 682-2363, ext. 168
DNR Offices with Deer Boxes
(Sturgeon Bay), Peter Gerl (920) 743-6777
This information is from the EEK (Wisconsin DNR) web site.
fall warblers have passed—but there's still plenty of great bird watching to be
done in November. Chances are, a weedy field near you is hosting throngs of
beautiful sparrows; ponds are coming alive with migrating waterfowl; mudflats
are like magnets for shorebirds; and raptors are passing overhead.
Weedy Fields for Sparrows
Overgrown pastures, abandoned lots, fields gone fallow—all are havens
for the next big wave of migrants to arrive after warblers: sparrows.
Looking for sparrows along grassy trails cut in fields can be fun
because your birds will flush as you walk and hopefully land on a branch
just ahead of you in clear view. Keep an eye out for White-throated
Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows and American Tree
Sparrows all over.
Mudflats and Marshes for Dabbling Ducks
Late fall is to ducks what September is to warblers—prime migration
time. Dabblers are ducks that skim the surface of the water for seeds,
aquatic vegetation, and invertebrates, so look for them in shallower
waters. This group includes some handsome ducks: the Green-winged Teal
with its iridescent green face mask, the Northern Pintail with its
elegant tail plume, and the dashing Wood Duck. Females and young of
these species tend to migrate earlier and move farther south, while
males only move when the cold weather hits.
Bigger Lakes and Reservoirs for Diving Ducks
Divers are ducks that plunge underwater and paddle with their large feet
to reach mollusks, invertebrates, fish, and submerged aquatic
vegetation. Accordingly, diving ducks such as Common Goldeneyes and
Common Mergansers favor deeper waters. The gales of November bring a
bluebill wind out of the North, as rafts of Lesser and Greater Scaup
sweep out of Canada. Hardy divers are pushed south by Old Man Winter;
they migrate as their northern waters freeze over.
Need Some Help Finding Nearby Hotspots?
eBird contains a Google Maps-like tool for timely birding. Just visit ebird's Hotspot Explorer,
enter your location, and you’ll find a map with pinpoints of hot
birding locations. You can narrow the results by date, too, if you like.
Click through the pinpoints to see up-to-date lists of what local
birders are seeing at these locations right now. Here’s more on how to use Hotspot Explorer.
Mike Hillstrom of the WI DNR found this turtle
shell while participating in the Newman Catholic Schools Fall Bio Blitz on Sept
25. There were approximately 130 students in the morning participating and 60
more students came in the afternoon.
It was a beautiful fall day, the trees just starting to turn
there brilliant colors, frogs hopping
around everywhere getting prepared to enter into hibernation as the pond
temperatures started to drop. The facilities at the Rudolph Environmental
Center on the north edge of Wausau were great, it was fun to experience the
composting toilet and see how the solar panels provide for the electricity need
to run scientific equipment on site.
All in all it was a very productive day with 150 species
recorded. There were 20 tree
species, 6 shrubs, 3 mosses, 5 ferns,
12 herbaceous plants, 1
sedge, 12 amphibians, 28 Insects, arachnids and bugs, 4 worms, 2
moths,1 slime mold, 13 fungi, 5 lichen, 13 birds, 11 mammals, 1 snake, 15
assorted critters from the aquatic study area. This being the first inventory
of the area it was fun to find such diverse plants and animals in an area
reserved for education of our youth.
The classes attending ranged from 3rd grade
through 9th grade biology and had diverse interests for
participating. Thank you to all who participated from the local volunteers, DNR
employees, school staff LEAF staff, UWSP professor and students. With a special
thanks to Steve Schmidt for all his coordination of the site, students and
volunteers. Looking forward to doing this again and getting into some of the
areas where we did not get data from and possibly in the spring when the
ephemerals are more abundant.
Running a bio blitz
Bio Bliltz Guide
MS Lesson Plan: Why does Bio Diversity Matter?
I wanted to pass on this Post from Monday, October 06, 2014
Steve Bailey is a bit of an
Whereas most people in Danville,
Illinois, wish the crows now in their midst would find themselves another
winter home, he welcomes the visitors with open arms. He’s a bird lover, of
course, and proud to live in the unofficial Winter Crow Capital of North
America—despite the noise, the mess, and the smell that comes with that
Danville is home to roughly 35,000
people. Its crows, however, number some 162,000 according to the recent
Audubon Christmas Bird Count. There are so many crows in the 6- to 8-block area
where they nightly roost that their weight sometimes snaps branches off trees.
And then there’s the endless supply
of droppings and the incessant racket. No wonder some desperate residents have
cut down healthy shade trees in order to force the birds to relocate. Others
have tried scaring the birds away with plastic owls and sirens, even recordings
of Barred Owl calls played throughout the night.
Still, the birds remain. The most
obvious reason for their stubbornness is that Danville offers a perfect
location for crows. It’s in a river valley surrounded by agricultural land in
all directions. As for the crows’ communal tendencies, the birds know that
there is strength in numbers. That is, roosting together helps them watch for
predators and increases their chances of finding food.
Given these tendencies, it should
come as no surprise that Danville’s is not the only large crow roost that takes
shape in the United States from fall to spring. In Jasper County, Iowa, for
example, thousands of crows settle down a little to the east of Newton. In
Massachusetts, up to 20,000 descend on the center of Framingham every
afternoon. Wichita, Kansas, has 100,000 crows spread among a few roosts. And in
the 1940s and ‘50s, Stafford County, Kansas, hosted upwards of a million crows
in winter, though that roost eventually disintegrated.
And perhaps the same fate will
someday befall Danville’s crows. No doubt most of the town’s residents would
welcome such a development. For bird lovers like Steve Bailey, though, Danville
just wouldn’t be the same without its winter crows.
Good or bad, they’re certainly a
Attend and create a groundwater model to take home to your classroom, along with the information you need to teach this concept!
Class dates are Jan 13th Stevens Point
Jan 28th Mount Horeb
Feb 11th Mount Horeb
Applications are due November 3rd! Click below and fill a to learn more about this fantastic oppurtunity.
by Margaret Boyles
The world has burst into bloom. The
forsythia and daffodils have faded, but azaleas, lilacs, flowering quince,
cherry and apple trees, the invasive but
sweet-scented autumn olive, dandelion, lawn violets and many more have exploded
with color and fragrance.
For centuries, humans have foraged
or cultivated flowers and flower buds for food, drink, and medicine. Think
broccoli, cauliflower, and artichoke, stuffed or stir-fried squash blossoms
dill-flower spiked pickles, chamomile and jasmine tea.
But did you know that the flowers of
hundreds of common wild and cultivated plants are edible? Dressing up your
soups, salads, drinks, and desserts with buds and flowers will add color,
diversity, and new flavor to your meals. Adventurous folks might also want to
explore some of the traditional medicinal uses of common flowers.
When preparing most flowers
(exceptions: squash, violets, and nasturtiums) for food or beverage, use only
the petals for best flavor. Remove the sepals, as well as the pistils and
stamens. In case you’ve forgotten your flower anatomy, here’s help.
Please read the caveats below before you begin.
A few of my favorites
sits at the top of my list. It’s easy to grow from seed, indoors or out,
and every above-ground part is edible. Its buds and delicate, voluptuous
blossoms spice up a bland salad or cooked vegetable platter. Nasturtium
leaves and flowers are rich in antioxidant and antiinflammatory compounds,
and have a long history of medicinal use in indigenous cultures for
urinary-tract, cardiovascular, and respiratory disorders. Extracts of this
cabbage-family relative are currently under investigation as possible treatments
for many diseases, including antibiotic-resistant infections.
Harvested fresh, the plump buds and meaty flowers of this common garden
plant are delicious sauteed in a little oil or butter, then seasoned with
salt and pepper. Some people stuff the just-opened blossom with a favorite
stuffing mix, then saute the stuffed flowers in a little oil or poach them
in broth. Use only freshly harvested buds/flowers.
I’ve already written about my love of the
irrepressible wild violets that pop up all over my lawns and gardens. Give
it a read, and tend your lawn violets with care!
A lovely and easy-to-grow annual flower, calendula petals will add color
and spice to just about any cooked or fresh dish. Carefully remove the
petals and toss them into salad, stir-fries, or your favorite rice
flowers are renowned for skin care and healing. You’ll find calendula listed as
an ingredient in many high-end skincare products and healing creams.
a nice recipe for homemade calendula oil or cream: Pull the petals from enough dried or fresh calendula
blossoms to give you a cup. Add petals to a cup of olive oil in a large glass jar
with a lid; seal and leave in a sunny window or outside for a week or two.
After straining out the petals, you can use the oil as is, or heat it in a
double boiler with ¼ cup of melted beeswax to make a spreadable cream.
The darker-colored, more aromatic the variety the more flavor it will
have. Strew rose petals across a fresh salad, brew them into tea, or use
the entire blossoms to decorate a cake.
Carefully separate the petals and sprinkle them into salads. For a real
treat, harvest the unopened buds, remove the sepals, and steam the buds
until tender. Meaty and filling, they taste like artichoke. Mmm!
Dried or fresh, chamomile tea is renowned as a safe and gentle calming and
sleep-promoting agent. It’s readily available in stores (buy flowers in
bulk), and easy to grow in the home garden. Plus, take a gander at this review of the traditional
medicinal uses of chamomile and current investigation of the herb as
Here’s a longer list of edible flowers. Have fun!
- Never eat a flower you can’t identify with absolute
certainty and know to be safe.
- Don’t eat commercially grown flowers or flowers that
came from a florist; they could have been sprayed.
- Don’t forage wild flowers on treated lawns or along
well-traveled roadways (possibility of chemical contamination).
- Introduce a new edible flower or floral tea slowly and
gradually, especially if you have a serious ragweed or other pollen
allergy. On your first try, take a few deep sniffs, then only a bite or
- Because flowers may contain powerful phytocompounds (which
confer their healing virtues, as well as their flavors and colors), check
with your healthcare professional before eating edible flowers if you’re
pregnant or taking prescription drugs.
Take note of the
grants program for teachers below. Deadline is coming up.
2014 Conservation and Education Grants Available (Deadline:
your nature center, land trust, local municipality, or other non-profit
have a conservation project that needs funding? Are you a teacher in need
of extra funding to take your students on field trips or do an
Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin's C.D. Besadny
Conservation Grant and Teachers' Outdoor Environmental
Education Grant applications are now available for small-scale
natural resources projects and programs that support the responsible
stewardship of Wisconsin's natural resources at the local level.
ranging from $100-$1,000 are awarded annually to projects or programs in
Wisconsin that benefit the public, involve management and restoration of
Wisconsin's natural resources, and/or contribute to knowledge about
Wisconsin's natural resources through education. Recipients are required to
match the grant award on a 1:1 basis with funds or in-kind services.
funded projects have included citizen-based monitoring in the Bad River
watershed, expanding hiking opportunities in southwest Wisconsin's savannas
and prairies, garden planting by Green Bay Area Public Schools to reduce
flooding and attract native species, and installing signage about wildlife
at the Tamarack Preserve in Waukesha County. In 2013, our Foundation
awarded more than $26,000 to 30 community partners across Wisconsin.
more information and to apply, please visit our website at wisconservation.org.
Applications must be postmarked by September 6, 2014.
Questions about the program may be directed to Caitlin Williamson at (866)
246-4096, or email@example.com.
Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
The Natural Resources Foundation is a
statewide non-profit organization that raises private funding for publicly
owned lands and waters in Wisconsin. Our mission is to connect generations
to the wonders of Wisconsin's lands, waters, and wildlife.
Exploring Stream Curriculum
Our teachers Kris Stepenuck, Lisie
Kitchel(pictured), Laura Herman, Laura MacFarland, Sue Reinecke, and Quita
Sheehan were extrodinar!
Stream Camp was a fantastic experience for learning and
meeting people. You might consider this adventure for next summer.
We had many Natural Resource Professionals, both learning
and teaching, that will serve as resources for years to come. From a teachers
view, there were connections for lessons from the first minutes until the last.
The WAV (Water Action Volunteers) program is the most classroom friendly of the
citizen science programs, in my opinion, and the extensions we learned opened
it up even more.
The one that grab me was taking the invertebrates into the
classroom and looking at them under a microscope to key them out to a family
level! The details of these critters that show up only under more magnification
was awe inspiring. The tail that turned out to be two anal hooks, the eyes that
were on the “back” side and bright red, and the stories of life cycle details
were crazy facts that students would lap up.
The reasons I enjoy the WAV monitoring is that you as the
volunteer you get to pick what of the criteria you want to monitor and how
often. This leaves it open to fit into a classroom curriculum throughout the
year instead of fitting there protocol into your curriculum.
Unfortunately they made everything so very interesting, as I
teacher I would be trying to get it all into my class. The Mussels were hard
for me to tell apart, it was often only a subtle curve of the shell or depth of
shell that was the defining point. What was amazing was how many of them were
just lying in the stream bottom and I had never noticed them before. We also
found midden piles, most likely from raccoons or weasels, at the boat landings
and piers throughout the area. I can now make correct identification on about 5
of the 50 some clams present in Wisconsin. My odds are not good but going up
from zero to five.
The last day we worked a stream with a fish shocking crew
and identified brook and brown trout, sculpins, and northern pike. From this
session we learned how they research the streams and the structures they are
building to maintain and restore trout streams in Northern Wisconsin.
So next year pack your waders and be ready to
suck in the information offered by so many field professionals in the stream
Exploring Stream Curriculum
Yesterday while I was teaching in Adam-Friendship, the insects where a major
find. Dragonflies, damselflies, grasshoppers, ants, wasps, bees, beetles, and
many other less identifiable specimens all push to be noticed. Children (and
adults) are drawn to insects some in disgust and some in awe. It is hard not to
look into the eye of an insect and not wonder how it views the world with so
many images coming at it.
Teaching the terminology, to identify, the concepts of life cycles, or the
social behavior of ants or bees can be fascinating to many. Since they are
always around us and often abound in numbers why not use them. No one has ever
developed a protocol beyond basic respect of a living creature to use them for
studies. So go for it. It could be a simple grasshopper collection. How many
what type of habitat are the most likely to be found in? What are their life
stages? How long does a life cycle take? Let the students pick and accessible
population and generate questions to answer? Let them figure out how to catch
or observe the principles they are looking to study? Let your students design
the study with you as a mentor or coach. I think that you will be amazed and
amazed at who steps up to work on this project. Enjoy the beautiful weather and
take care to notice the wonderful ballet of life exploding around you.
Insect Charades.pdfInsect Chardes sheet.pdf
Twist an Insect.pdftwist an insect 2.pdftwist an insect 3.pdf
Insectclopedia below has lesson plans for all ages and teaching types. Give
one a try and let me know if you find one that is particularly useful in your
classes. I used the Honey bees in a 2nd grade class with great
success, some are less hands on and inquiry then others but it certainly
addresses many possibilities. The High School Cockroach study facinates me and teaches lots of experimental design.
Lastly an activity I often do with students to help them understand the eye of an insect and what the world looks like through that eye.
By July, most songbirds are in the final stages of raising their young, but not the American Goldfinches.
These appealing, colorful birds are just getting started.
Notoriously late nesters, goldfinches have been waiting for the
thistles to bloom. When this happens in July, it signals the goldfinches
that they can start building their nests which are made primarily of
the silver fibers and down of thistle blooms. Generally, the nest is
built in the fork of a horizontal tree limb, 4 to 14 feet above the
The female builds a durable, neat cup of thistle and cattail fibers,
so dense that it will hold water. In it she lays 4 to 6 pale blue to
white eggs and then she incubates them for 12 to 14 days, until they
hatch. The attentive male often feeds his mate while she sits on the
By the time the eggs hatch, the thistle has gone to seed, which is
perfect timing for feeding young goldfinches. The parents nourish this
chicks by consuming the thistle seed themselves, and then regurgitating
the partially digested, milklike cereal into the mouths of their
nestlings. This is as close as birds come to mammals that feed their
young milk from mammary glands.
Baby goldfinches are fully feathered and out of the nest 10 to 16
days later. Almost immediately, they join their parents at bird feeders
across America. That’s when many people suddenly notice so many
goldfinches as the summer progesses.
Bird nest mini-lessons 2-6th grade
building bird nest activity upper elementary