Photo of a box turtle

7 things Teddy the ornate box turtle wants you to know about him

November 27, 2017

When kids who have been to the nature center before return, many of them beeline to see Teddy the ornate box turtle. (Teddy has some lessons for us to learn in this video.) But how much do you really know about the ornate box turtle (terrapene ornata ornata)? Long live…

Graphic with origami instructions

It really works: Leaping frog origami

November 20, 2017

I am by no means an origami expert, but I always feel accomplished when I complete a new project. We’ve tried butterfly origami (you can find that blog entry here) and today decided to attempt making interactive origami — a leaping frog! Steps 1-4: Fold your paper hot dog, then…

Photo of a turkey in the grass

Ten turkey facts we bet you didn’t know

November 20, 2017

If you want to be the stand-out at Thanksgiving, bring these 10 turkey facts with you. Soy de Mexico. All turkeys originated in Mexico. Now it imports about 400 million pounds of turkey from the U.S. for consumption. They were wanted for their feathers. Wild turkeys can have a wing span —…

Photo of headbands with pipe cleaner antenna

Be a bee! Learn how to make your own antenna

November 13, 2017

After Halloween, has your child been begging you to let him or her wear his or her costume again? Do they want to dress up every day? Here’s a fun craft to make that might curb their dressing up craving — bee antenna. You’ll need: A headband Four pipe cleaners…

Photo of a snake sticking out its tongue

Feeding the nature center snakes

November 13, 2017

The naturalists make sure to wash their hands after handling the mice before picking up the snakes. They don’t want the snakes to associate people with food or being let out of their enclosures with food either so that they don’t expect to be fed every time the enclosure door…

Photo of a fish handprint

Under the Sea handprint fish craft

November 6, 2017

It’s getting cold outside, and when it’s cold outside what do we dream of? Warmth! OK, some may have said snow, but I think many dream of having warm summer days back. And when I think of summer, I usually think of the water or the beach, so I decided…

Photo of two trumpeter swans in the snow

Feeding the Kenue Park trumpeter swans

November 6, 2017

Check out the trumpeter swans on the wetland year-round with our live web camera. Click here. You can also find more videos on our Videos page or watch what Teddy the turtle eats here.

Photo of a leaf jack-o-lantern

Perfect Halloween nature craft: Spooky leaves!

November 1, 2017

Seasonal crafts that you can make with supplies you find outside are some of the best crafts. And what is there in abundance at this time of year? Leaves! So, for this craft, your first goal is to head outside with the kiddos and pick up three to five of…

Photo of a tarantula

Venom and barbed hairs: Why tarantulas are actually quite cool

October 30, 2017

Spiderwebs. Big black spiders. Furry tarantulas. Halloween decorations are often centered around arachnids — the family of creatures with four pairs of legs that includes spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks — of some sort. (Teach your kids why they should appreciate all nature.) I think it’s just because spiders and their relatives are…

Photo of an arrow made out of acorns

Leave behind your nature art

October 23, 2017

Andy Goldsworthy is an intriguing nature artist who makes art, takes a photo and then leaves his art behind. (See some of Goldsworthy’s art here.) From piles of leaves that look like three-dimensional pits to rocks balanced in arches, his art inspires you to head outside and see what you…

Photo of a turtle in a play wetland

What does Teddy the Turtle eat?

October 23, 2017

Teddy — named after conservationist former President Theodore Roosevelt — is an ornate box turtle. That means he is an omnivore and will eat both plants and animals, just like humans! See naturalist Ashley Hansen feed Teddy and learn what his favorite foods are in this video! You can also…

Photo of a leopard frog

Frogs are the real living dead

October 17, 2017

The title “living dead” is very Halloween-appropriate. And that’s exactly what northern leopard frogs are in the wintertime. Northern leopard frogs are native to northwest Iowa and are aquatic creatures, meaning they live in the water. Like American bullfrogs, which are not native to northern Iowa, northern leopard frogs will…