Photo of folded paper fish

Here fishy fish: Fish paper craft

April 22, 2019

Since we’ve been enjoying the Okoboji osprey coming back to Kenue Park (read the beginning of their diary series here), we thought it most appropriate to have a fish craft. Osprey absolutely love fish; in fact, it makes up about 99 percent of their diet, and they are truly created…

Photo of osprey on nest

Osprey Diary: Loving Okoboji

April 22, 2019

Iowa is a wonderful place for us to nest and raise our chicks each year. There is plenty of food. There is not too much competition for nesting sites. The temperatures are just right. Plus, there is plenty of nesting material. I was happy when I returned that last year’s…

Osprey maze

April 15, 2019

Osprey are unique raptors that are built to eat fish, in fact, it’s 99 percent of their diet. Click on the image below for a free printable osprey maze activity that you can challenge yourself with at home. Read more about osprey at these links: WATCH: Osprey lifespan Seven differences…

Photo of an osprey eating a koi fish

Osprey Diary: Home sweet home

April 15, 2019

I know that we’re not the only ones who leave the Iowa Great Lakes area for the winter. There are ducks, geese, songbirds, swans and even people that take off when the weather gets colder for areas that are warmer and where food is easy to come by. Last year…

Photo of a completed fox face

Coffee filter fox face

April 8, 2019

Crafts are fun, but sometimes they are expensive. You have to go buy Popsicle sticks, googly eyes, tissue paper, balloons or string. Sometimes, supply purchases really add up. But this craft is simple, and you probably already have all the supplies right at home to make an adorable fox face.…

Photo of a muskrat in the water

Muskrats are agile swimmers

April 8, 2019

Looking at a wetland in the Iowa Great Lakes, you might see ripples coming from a moving little dot. Muskrats are adorable creatures that can glide through the water because of their dense fur that traps air for insulation and buoyancy, and they are very active this time of year.…

Photo of a wild rose

Iowa’s state symbols

April 2, 2019

Peering out the window of the Dickinson County Nature Center, I can see birds at the feeders in the avian courtyard. One of them is a brilliant yellow color with black wings, and it is right at home here. That’s because the American goldfinch is the state bird of Iowa.…

Printable spring scavenger hunt

April 1, 2019

It’s officially spring, and that means that I officially want to get outside. I can’t always get outside, because sometimes the computer ropes me in to work, but I am thankful that I have a job that I get outside more than most. If you’re looking for something to do…

Make your own lava lamp

March 25, 2019

Sometimes we move away from nature-specific principles and teach more general science principles during Dickinson County Nature Center programs. We use science experiments in many of our programs to teach about natural reactions and to help kids learn to hypothesize and test out their theories. (Learn about permeable skin through…

Photo of a coyote

Five Iowa predators

March 25, 2019

As Iowa was settled, its landscape and demographics changed, and that meant that its wildlife changed as well. Many species, such as deer, turkeys, trumpeter swans and bobcats were extirpated or close to extirpation. However, increasingly positive conservation attitudes has helped to bring back many species. Here are some of…

Photo of kids watching a mud volcano

Build a mud volcano

March 18, 2019

If it’s springtime and muddy, like it is in Iowa right now, it’s the perfect time to get outside! Just wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, and put your imagination to work with all of the fun mud around. If you need a little inspiration, try making a…

Photo of a swamp

Four types of wetlands

March 18, 2019

Bog, marsh, swamp, fen. Often these words are used interchangeably, but in reality, each is its own type of wetland, which is a word used to refer to water-saturated landscapes. (Watch: What is a wetland?) A marsh is a wetland that is continually full of water. If you have been…