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 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 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 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…

Photo of Theodore Roosevelt

Animal ambassador conservationists: Theodore Roosevelt

April 27, 2020

Teddy the ornate box turtle at the Dickinson County Nature Center is named after former president and conservationist Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, whose nickname was Teddy — even though he didn’t like it, was born in 1858 in New York City. He grew up homeschooled due to medical conditions and grew…

Celebrate Arbor Day with a tree cookie maze

April 24, 2020

Lucky is a woodland leprechaun who makes her home in a tree, so naturally, she loves trees! She is helping us celebrate Arbor Day and trees each day of the year. Watch her lesson on trees and then click the tree cookie maze photo to download a free printable maze!

Photo from memory match game

Bird egg memory match game

April 24, 2020

Naturalist Ashley Hansen talks about how amazing bird eggs are — from the myriad of colors to the variety of sizes. You can learn even more about bird eggs by downloading our bird egg memory match game! Simply print off the pieces on cardstock, cut them out and match eggs…

Thumbprint tree

April 21, 2020

The world has about 3 trillion trees and more than 60,000 different species. However, trees are very specific to their environments. More than half of the tree species in the world only grow in a certain country. Trees are positives for the environment for so many reasons, from absorbing excess…