Photo of white pine needles

Trees of Dickinson County: Evergreens

May 20, 2020

Iowa has two kinds of native evergreen trees, which stay green year-round due to their rolled-up, waxy leaves that are known as needles. These leaves are resistant to cold and stay moist, keep them green all year long. Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) Red cedars are native to Iowa, but…

Sketch of Sylvan Runkel

Animal ambassador conservationists: Sylvan Runkel

May 18, 2020

The name of the two salamanders that live at the Dickinson County Nature Center are Sy and Manny. Manny’s name wasn’t very creative, to be honest. It comes from sala”man”der. Sy’s name, however, is in honor of famed Iowa conservationist Sylvan Runkel. Runkel was born in 1906 in Jacksonville, IL,…

Salamander Mad Libs

May 18, 2020

Sy and Manny the tiger salamanders live at the Dickinson County Nature Center in different aquariums, but we think that they would be the best of friends if there were outside in the wild together. What do you think? Click on this link to download our salamander Mad Libs story…

Photo of a green ash in fall

Trees of Dickinson County: Green ash

May 13, 2020

Iowa has several different species of ash trees: Black ash (Fraxinus nigra), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and white ash (Fraxinus americana). However, only one kind is native to the northwest corner of the state — green ash. Black ash is found in the eastern half of Iowa, and white ash…

Photo of luna leopold

Animal ambassador conservationists: Luna Leopold

May 11, 2020

Luna the hedgehog’s name works on multiple levels. First, luna means moon in Spanish, and since the Dickinson County Nature Center’s African pygmy hedgehog is nocturnal, a name meaning moon is quite apt. Second, like many of our animals, Luna is named after a famous conservationist — Luna Leopold. Leopold…

Photo of paper hedgehog

Accordion paper hedgehog

May 11, 2020

Hedgehogs are known for the spines, the way they protect themselves from predators. They’re spiky but adorable, and this simple paper hedgehog shows off both sides of these nocturnal animals! To make your own paper hedgehog, you’ll need: Two sheets of brown construction paper in two different shades Black marker…

Learn Spanish nature words

May 7, 2020

Learn a variety of Spanish nature words in this video and then test your newfound vocabulary skills with a special worksheet. Just click here to download the free worksheet!

Photo of basswood tree

Trees of Dickinson County: Basswood

May 6, 2020

It seems like, when people list the trees of Iowa, that many don’t think about, or possibly know about, basswood (Tilia americana). However, basswood is a common tree that occurs statewide and is often interspersed with maples and oaks. Size Basswoods grow 75-100 feet or more, and they grow quickly.…

Photo of paper plate toad

Paper plate toad

May 4, 2020

Toads are such overlooked creatures. They’re a little lumpier and a little drabber than frogs, so they tend to be viewed as not as cute. However, we love toads! So we wanted to make a fun toad craft that you can do at home. You’ll need: A paper plate Crayons…

Photo of Aldo Leopold

Animal ambassador conservationists: Aldo Leopold

May 4, 2020

The great plains toads at the Dickinson County Nature Center are named Al and Wally. Wally is named after Alfred R. Wallace (read more about him here), and Al is named after Iowa-born conservationist Aldo Leopold. Leopold was born in 1887 in Burlington and spent much of his youth in…

Photo of cottonwood seeds

Trees of Dickinson County: Cottonwood

April 29, 2020

If you walk around the Iowa Great Lakes, you’ll see plenty of towering cottonwood trees (Populus deltoides). They live to be 80-100 years old, although they have weak branches that struggle to withstand ice and rain. The heartwood of the trunk tends to rot inside a cottonwood, and sometimes when branches…

Photo of a button turtle

Button turtle

April 27, 2020

People love to spot turtles in the wild. Snapping turtles, painted turtles, softshell turtles — it is so fun getting to see these truly unique creatures. Let’s celebrate turtles right at home by making a button turtle craft. You’ll need:A printed templateColored pencils, crayons or markersButtonsGlue Print out our button…

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