Free teaching materials available from Illinois DNR

SPRINGFIELD—Teachers heading back to their classrooms are encouraged to supplement their lessons with free, Illinois-specific educational materials and programs from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR’s Educational Services Section offers a variety of free natural resource materials that are correlated to the Illinois Learning Standards.

Posters, activity books, CD-ROM, DVD

More than 20 posters are available, most with supplemental information, on topics including trees, birds, insects, threatened and endangered species, frogs and toads, snakes, turtles, rivers and wetlands. Activity books and worksheets are available in classroom sets.

Topics include trees, birds, prairies, insects and state symbols. CD-ROM formats include information, lessons, student activities, nature sounds and video. Five videos in DVD format help explore Illinois natural resources without leaving the classroom.

Resources on loan

Items for loan include the Illinois Tree Trunks and the new Illinois Wild Mammals Trunks. The trunks are large plastic containers full of resources. Each Illinois Tree Trunk has lessons, videos, posters, tree “cookies,” lumber samples, rubber leaves, seeds, tree sampling equipment and more items related to trees and forestry.

The Illinois Wild Mammals Trunks are filled with field guides, CD-ROMs, a DVD, fur samples, skulls, track and scat replicas, lessons, activity sheets, posters and other items. Suggested loan time for the trunks is two weeks. Lending locations for both trunks can be accessed at


Schoolyard Habitat Action Grants of up to $600 can provide funds for schoolyard wildlife habitat improvement projects. Applications are due by Oct. 15.

Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grants of up to $500 per teacher can pay for transportation, substitute teachers, equipment and other items to take students outdoors to study the biodiversity of our state. The two application periods per year have deadlines of Oct. 15 and Feb. 15. Information and application forms for both grant program can be found at

Teacher workshops

Illinois ENTICE and Projects WILD, WILD Aquatic, Learning Tree and WET workshops for educators offer Continuing Professional Development Units as teachers learn about natural resources concepts and receive classroom-ready supplemental materials. Visit for more information about these programs and to view workshop schedules.

Federal Junior Duck

Stamp Design Contest

The art contest is for grades K-12 to promote wetland and waterfowl conservation.

National Arbor Day Poster Contest

The competition for fifth grade students focuses on forests, tree diversity and tree planting. Application packets are mailed to the schools each fall and are also available online at

More information on all of the free materials available to teachers from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is available by contacting the DNR Educational Services Section at (217) 524-4126, by e-mail at, or on the DNR Web site at

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