Photo of a paper plate turtle shell

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, so it’s an easy craft…

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Photo of Ada Hayden

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, and graduated in 1908. She…

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Photo of white pine needles

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 they are often considered a…

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Sketch of Sylvan Runkel

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, and he graduated from Iowa…

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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 to fill out. Let us…

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Photo of a green ash in fall

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 is common in the southeastern…

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Photo of luna leopold

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 was born in 1915 in…

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Photo of paper hedgehog

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 Staples or glue Scissors Begin…

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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! Paper plate turtle shell Turtles come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some are light green with long necks. Some are dark green. Some have stripes…

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Photo of basswood tree

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. If planted at the same…

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