Environmental Education & Educator Resources


Educational programming, curriculum guides, lesson plans, activities, and ideas for teachers, students, parents, and anyone else interested in exploring the natural world around them!



WCCB Educational Programming

Winneshiek County Conservation offers a wide array of environmental education and outdoor recreation programming for classrooms, organizations, or anyone! In addition to the programs described in our program guide, we are always happy to create custom programs to meet your needs. Contact us to discuss the possibilities!


Click here for the WCCB Environmental Education and Outdoor Recreation Program Guide (Updated Fall 2017)



Winneshiek County Resources



Additional Environmental Education Resources

Click on individual topics to find additional resources from outside sources. Feel free to contact us if any of these links are broken or if you have any additional resources you would like to see added to this page.


Amphibians & Reptiles

  • HerpNet: Online field guide to Iowa amphibian and reptiles offering photos and information on habitat, range, diet, identification, and behavior.

Backyard / Schoolyard Conservation

  • Backyard Conservation: Booklet produced by the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service.
  • Backyard Nature with Jim Conrad: Activities, tips, field booklets, phenology database, and more for exploring the natural world with kids.
  • Planet Connect: An online social network where highschool students can learn about current environmental issues, funding opportunities, green colleges, and environmental careers. Students can also share and exchange ideas about how they are playing a critical role in solving today's environmental issues.


  • BirdSleuth: Various curricula designed to help students conduct their own birding investigations. Provides full curricula, teachers' guides, reference guides, Investigator's Journals, and resource materials including focus cards, supplemental CDs, and full-color posters.
  • eBird: Real-time, online bird checklist from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.
  • Iowa Birds and Birding: Searchable online database of Iowa birding reports, birding site guides, and checklists from the Iowa's Ornithologists' Union.
  • Project FeederWatch: Embrace the Winter. Count feeder birds for science! From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
  • whatBird.com: Bird identification search engine and guide. Also has identification tips, a glossary, and a "Make-a-Guide" field guide generator allowing free creation of small, customized .pdf field guides.
  • Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas: Image and Audio libraries of Wisconsin birds from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Cofrin Center for Biodiversity.

Butterflies & Moths

Children & Nature

  • Backyard Nature with Jim Conrad: Activities, tips, field booklets, phenology database, and more for exploring the natural world with kids.  
  • Children and Nature Network: Building a movement to reconnect children with nature. Offers parents, youth, civic leaders, educators, and health-care professionals access to the latest news and research in the field as well as practical advice, including ways to apply new knowledge at home, school, work, and in the community. 
  • Green Hearts: Conservation organization dedicated to bringing back "nature play" in order to restore and strengthen the bonds between children and nature, leading to conservation efforts in adults. Assists with development of preschools and provides educational advocacy and consulting.
  • Growing Up Wild: Exploring Nature with Young Children: Early childhood education program that builds on children's sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore the world around them. A newer branch of the long-standing Project Wild. Most materials available only through Project Wild professional development workshops. Visit the Iowa Project Wild Coordinator for workshop information.
  • Kids in Nature with Maria: Private organization offering ecology/biology-based outdoor activities for students, youth, and adult groups. Programs are hands-on, experiential adventures in local natural areas. Based in Williamsburg, Iowa.
  • KinderNature: Resource for early childhood educators provided by the Story County Conservation Board. Includes games, activities, snack suggestions, art, songs, and educational resources designed to get children exploring the natural world during early childhood.
  • Natural Learning Initiative: Works to promote the importance of the natural environment in the daily experience of all children through environmental design, action research, education, and dissemination of information.  

Climate Change

  • Climate Connections: National Public Radio special series on climate change, including reporting on causes, signs, and solutions. Features Global Warming: It's All About Carbon, a 5-part series on global warming from cartoonist Robert Krulwich.
  • Cool the Earth: Free, fun, empowering, ready-to-run climate change assembly program that educates K-8 students and their families about climate change and inspires them to take simple actions to reduce their carbon emissions. Program includes a kick-off assembly, action coupons, kids e-zine, and tips for measuring success and forming a team.
  • Parks Climate Change: Helps educators teach the principles of climate change through the National Parks. Provides teacher trainings, lesson plans, and hands-on engagement centered on experiences in National Parks, including the Mississippi River National Park.


Environmental Education

  • Discovery Channel Classroom Resources: Includes lessons plans for grades K-12 in subjects like animals, ecology, geography, physical science, and plants. Also features puzzlemakers, activity guides, and Explore the Blue, a water-focused education program.
  • EEK!: Engaging and fun website from the Wisconsin DNR. Offers games, activities, teacher resources, and lots of information. Available in Spanish.
  • Exploring Iowa's Natural Resources: Blog sponsored by the Iowa DNR's Aquatic Education Program. Offers activity ideas, book lists, and discussion topics.
  • FOSSWeb: Inquiry-based "Full Option Science System" science curriculum. Website offers support, resources, and activities for grades K-8.
  • Global, Environmental, and Outdoor Education Council (GEOEC): Education organization working to promote quality professional development for teachers in the area of global, environmental, and outdoor education. Offers workshops, conferences, lesson plans, and more.
  • Institute for Earth Education: Offesr an alternative to traditional environmental education programs  with a focus on helping people to live more harmoniously and joyously with the natural world.
  • Iowa Conservation Education Coalition: Working to develop environmental literacy plans that integrate state standards and benchmarks with guidelines and recommendations made by the North American Association for Environmental Education.
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources - Education: Multiple parent, educator, and kid resources on general and Iowa-specific environmental education topics.
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service: Department within the USDA that offers a variety of conservation education materials for grades K-12.
  • Outdoor Explorations for Early Learners: Iowa DNR Education Resources blog specifically for early childhood environmental education.
  • Project Learning Tree: Environmental education curriculum and activity guide. Covers topics including forests, wildlife, water, air, energy, waste, climate change, and invasive species. Most materials available only through PLT professional development workshops. Contact your local Project Learning Tree Coordinator for workshop informaiton.
  • The Wilderness Classroom: Uses school assemblies, teacher trainings, and trackable, interactive online expeditions to introduce students to the wonders of exploration and wilderness travels in hopes of instilling a lifelong appreciation of wilderness in young people. Offers lesson plans, workshops, and other educational resources.

Environmental Ethics & Responsibility

  • Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: Educational nonprofit organization dedicated to the responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors by all people, worldwide.
  • Leopold Education Project: Land education curriculum working to create an ecologically literate citizenry so that individuals might develop personal land ethics. Most materials available only through professional development workshops. Sponsored by Pheasants Forever.


  • WiscFish: Fish identification database with detailed images of Midwest fish species. Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology, the Wisconsin DNR, and the Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.

Food & Agriculture

  • Iowa Food & Fitness: Joint initiative by 6 northeast Iowa to create healthy communities where people have access to healthy, locally grown foods, and abundant opportunities for physical activity and play. Offers numerous school and community programs.
  • Iowa Learning Farm: Works to call attention to the importance of improved water and soil quality through conservation farming practices. Website offers resources that help educators, farmers, and funders learn to retain and rebuild high quality soils and clean water. Educator resources include a video series, corresponding enhancement activities, and the Conservation Station, a mobile learning center.
  • Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture: Research and education center working to develop alternative, sustainable agricultural practices that are profitable and conserve natural resources.
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa: Nonprofit, educational organization working to research, develop, and promote profitable, ecologically sound, and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture.
  • What's on Your Fork?: Includes resources on animal agriculture, food choices, and creating a "Meatless Monday" campaign for eating plant-based foods only one-day a week at school, at home, or throughout the community.
  • Women, Food, and & Agriculture Network: Community of women involved in sustainable agriculture working to link and empower women to build food systems and communities that are healthy, just, sustainable, and that promote environmental integrity.


  • U.S. Geological Society: Provides scientific information intended to help educate the public about natural resources, natural hazards, geospatial data, and issues that affect our quality of life. Website includes lessons, data, maps, and other resources to support teaching, learning, education (K-12), and university-level inquiry and research. 


  • BugGuide: Identification, images, and information for insects, spiders, and bugs in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Insects of Iowa: Online database of Iowa insects with information and photographs.
  • Iowa Odonata Survey: Online databse containing photos, status codes, range information, abundance data, and checklists for dragonflies and damselflies of Iowa.
  • Pollinator Live: Distance learning adventure providing resources on pollinator lessons. Offers live electronic field trips, web seminars, resources, and ideas for butterfly gardens and outdoor classrooms.
  • Pollinator Partnership: Pollinator action and information, including planting guides, activities, educational resources, data, and research. 


  • Iowa Association of Naturalists: Professional organization that promotes the development of skills and education within the art of interpreting the natural and cultural environments. Offers multiple publications and resources on Iowa flora and fauna.
  • Iowa Pathways: The stories of Iowa, sponsored by IPTV. Explore the history of Iowa through various pathways, including agriculture, the environment, and arts and culture.


Natural History

Outdoor Recreation

  • Geocaching: A high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. Enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.
  • Iowa Bicycle Coalition: Builds partnerships, educates Iowans, and helps to establish safe and enjoyable bicycle transportation and recreation networks throughout Iowa. Offers tips, trails maps from around the state, and networking opportunities.
  • Iowa Food and Fitness: Joint initiative by 6 Northeast Iowa counties to create healthy communities where people have access to healthy, locally grown foods and abundant opportunities for physical activity and play. Offers numerous school and community programs.
  • My County Parks: Offers location, activity, service, facility, and event descriptions for the county conservation board and county park system of each of Iowa's 99 counties.
  • National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP): Promotes student education, physical education, and participation in the lifelong sport of archery. Provides a detailed archery curriculum and activity guide as well as instructor training and equipment funding opportunities.  

Phenology and Nature Observation

  • The GreenReport: Combines current satellite imagery with historic data to prepare a series of maps that show vegetation and crop conditions of the landscape as the season progresses. An excellent wave to follow the "green wave."
  • Journey North: Engages students in global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change. K-12 students share their own field observations ofmigration patterns of migrations, plant buddings, changing sunligyht, and other natural events. Offers maps, pictures, lesson plans, and activities.
  • National Phenology Network: Works to facilitate collection and free dissemination of plant phenological data from across the U.S., primarily to support scientific research concerning interactions between plants and the lower atmosphere, especially concerning the long-term impacts of climate change.
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Project: Compilation of phenological weblinks, categorized by topic.  
  • PlantWatch: Students and the general public observe flowering times for key indicator species and report data online. Also available: FrogWatch, IceWatch, and WormWatch.
  • Project BudBurst: Students collect data on the timing of leafing and flowering of native trees and flowers across the country.
  • Wicsonsin Phenological Society: Resources and information for those interested in recording observations and promoting phenological research.


  • USDA PLANTS Database: Searchable, online database of plants found across the nation. Provides distribution and taxonomic information for individual species, a 40,000-image gallery, state species checklists, and additional resources.     


  • The American Prairie: Ecology lesson plans for grades 6-8 from the Discovery Channel.
  • Prairies Forever: Located at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refule and offering Project Bluestem, a curriculum designed to help students become more intimately acquainted with tallgrass prairies and oak savannas. Curriculum available through professional development workshops.
  • Iowa Living Roadway Trust Fund: Works to conserve pollinators and native insects by protecting roadside prairie fragments. Offers a variety of education materials including lesson plans, posters, book lists, games and activities, and resource lists.
  • On the Prairie: Field guides, curriculum add-ons, and a "Build a Prairie" interactive game from the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.
  • Prairies Forever: Dedicated to promoting the ecological and cultural significance of the American prairie through education, outreach, and public engagement. Maintains a long list of prairie resources and education materials.
  • Tallgrass Prairie Center: Develops research, techniques, education, and seed for restoration and preservation of native prairie vegetation. Produces of America's Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie, and award-winning documentary with supplemental education materials.


  • Soil Stories: A series of videos following Francine as she realizes that soil is alive and that without soil, life as we know if would not exist.
  • National Association of Conservation Districts: Represents local conservation districts that work to manage and protect land and water resources on private and public lands around the United States. Sponsors the annual Stewardship Program and provides topical educator resources on conserving natural resources.    

Sustainability & Green Living

  • Center for a New American Dream: Helps Americans consume responsibly in order to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice. Provides resources and ideas for simplifying holidays, raising kids in a consumer culture, reducing carbon footprints, breaking bottled water habits, and more.  
  • MyGarbology: Interactive online game that teaches about garbology (the study of what we do with our waste) and answers the question "What should I do with my waste?" Lesson and activity extensions and Trash Talk blog also available.
  • Planet Connect: Online social network where high school students can learn about current environmental issues, funding opportunities, green colleges, and environmental careers. Students can also share and exchange ideas about how they are playing a critical role in solving today's environmental crises.  
  • Reclaim Your Holidays: Project sponsored by UNI's Center for Energy and Environmental Education aimed at encouraging more meaningful, less stressful, greener holidays. Offers tips, resources, and ideas for "reclaiming your holiday."
  • Responsible Shopper: A guide for promoting a responsible economy by exposing abuses by well-known companies, providing actions to promote corporate responsibility, and tips on how to green your own life.

Trees & Forests

  • LEAF: Wisconsin K-12 Foresty Education Program: Formal and non-formal forestry education materials from the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education (UW - Stevens Point) and the Wisconsin DNR Division of Forestry.
  • Trees Forever: Nonprofit that plants and cares for trees, but also addresses the challenges facing communities and the environment by providing information and tools for others to do so as well. Offers a wide range of programs, volunteer opportunities, and services.
  • Trees for Kids/Teens: Curriculum guides created by the Iowa DNR that incorporates educational experiences with planting trees. Primarily focused on elementary and secondary students, and content is linked to the Iowa Core Curriculum. Provides lesson plans, resources lists, and grant funding opportunities.

Water & Wetlands

  • EarthEcho International: Empowers youth to take actions that restore and protect our water planet. Programs ebmbrace service learning and the power of individuals to reshape their communities and our world. Multiple themed programs offer lesson plans, educator resources, service learning action guides, and more.
  • Project Wet: Hands-on, investigative water education materials. Covers topics including watersheds, wetlands, water quality, oceans, and water conservation. Most materials available only through professional development workshops. See the Iowa Academy of Science, Iowa's Project WET host institution, for workshop information.
  • Teaching Kids about Water Conservation: General resources with links to water conservation resources.
  • Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust: UK-based nonprofit offering lesson ideas and plans for wetland studies.


  • Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center: Works to preserve the values and benefits of wilderness for present and future generations by connecting agency employees and the public with their wilderness heritage through training, information, and education. Provides online and distance training opportunities, a K-12 wilderness curriculum, and various educational resources.
  • NatureSkills.com: Online wilderness skills journal covering outdoor skills including tracking animals, calling and identifying birds, primitive skills, wilderness survival skills, identifying edible wild plants, and more. Offers step-by-step instruction, environmental awareness quizzes, and additional resources.
  • Wilderness.net: Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage. Offers a wilderness photo gallery, training opportunities, and educational resources.  


  • Animal Diversity Web: Searchable online database of natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology sponsored by the University of Michigan. Offers species accounts including photos, audio recordings, taxonomic and general information.
  • BioKids: Offers a "Critter Catalog" of animals of the upper Midwest, and field guides for animal tracks and invertebrates.
  • Clipart ETC: Clipart database sponsored by the Florida Educational Technology Clearinghouse. Includes clipart and drawings of animals, plants, mythology, science, and more.
  • enature.com: Provides detailed information on almost 6,000 species of wild plants and animals in North America. Utilizes teh same data set as Audubon guides. Provides wildlife, track, sky, and other field guides, games and activities, "Ask an Expert," and localized wildlife information.
  • National Wildlife Federation: Offers newsletters and information, Kids Zone, outdoor activity guides for adults and children, coloring pages, and more. Wildlife Watch is a citizen scientists help the NWF track wildlife and plants across the country.
  • Project WILD / Project WILD Aquatic / Growing Up Wild: Wildlife-focused conservation education program for K-12 and Pre-K from the Council for Environmental Education. Most materials available only through professional development workshops. Visit the Iowa Project Wild Coordinator for workshop information.   



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