Photo of American elm

Trees of Dickinson County: Elms

May 27, 2020

Two kinds of elms can be found statewide in Iowa, the American Elm (Ulmus americana) and the red elm (Ulmus rubra) or the slippery elm. American elm American elms have battled disease, like many types of trees native to Iowa. Dutch elm disease was introduced from Europe in the 1930s…

Photo of a paper plate turtle shell

Paper plate turtle shell

May 25, 2020

Turtles come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some are light green with long necks. Some are dark green. Some have stripes of yellow, and some have orange highlights. They all have one thing in common, though — their domed shell. A paper plate makes for the perfect turtle shell,…

Photo of Ada Hayden

Animal ambassador conservationists: Ada Hayden

May 25, 2020

One of the Dickinson County Nature Center red-eared sliders is named Ada, after Iowa conservationist Ada Hayden. Ada Hayden was born in 1884 in Ames, and she became an important conservationist early on through her botany mentor Louis Pammel. She studied botany at Iowa State College, now Iowa State University,…

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…

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