Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Explore Bowhunting!
You Are Invited
What: Explore Bowhunting Workshop
When: July 28, 2014 10:00AM – 3:00PM
Where: Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge (West Des Moines, IA)
Why: You are an influence to youth!
RSVP: July 24, 2014

The Iowa DNR has partnered with Archery Trade Association to
start a brand new program called Explore Bowhunting. Explore
Bowhunting is an outdoor conservation education program
focusing on interactions with people and wildlife.
The curriculum is designed to teach students to feel comfortable
in the outdoors whether they are interested in bowhunting,
wildlife photography, or interact with nature. After going through
the training you will be able to access loaner equipment filled
with $1800 of outdoor gear.
As an added bonus, this workshop will include lunch and is FREE!

For more Information and to register for
the workshop contact:
Donise Petersen at


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nature Photography for Kids

Create Your Own Fishing Field Guide
Kids love cameras and kids love nature. Combine the two and you have with a wonderful project to fill your summer days.  We are going to create our own fishing field guides using nature photography. The next time you go fishing give children a camera to photograph the trip.

Allow children to be the lead on this project and follow their own interests. Do you have a child who is interested in each fish species? Help them create a fish species field guide. Other ideas are water birds, aquatic plants, aquatic insects, pond or lake biodiversity, or even clouds and weather. Inventory and photograph the subjects you have chosen. Bring a notebook with you and have children record their observations of what they have photographed.

When children are done taking pictures download them to your computer. Go through the photographs with your children and let them decide which photos to include in their field guide.

With your children identify each subject that you are going to include in your backyard field guide. If you do not have field guides they can be checked out from your local library. There are also many on-line field guide resources.  Allow children time to look through field guides to get an idea of what they look like, and what information is included in each. Decide what information you are going to include in your backyard field guide.

Create your field guides by printing pictures and descriptions and creating a journal. An old notebook or photo album will work. You could also create a photobook through a website such as Snapfish and have an actual book created and mailed to you. You now have a field guide for your own backyard!

Want to expand your field guide? Create a nature field guide for your backyard, your favorite camping site, local park, or even the nature on a vacation trip!

Camera Basics
Teach children the basics of operating a digital camera. Start with the basics and expand from there. For younger children keep it simple. Older children who have experience with cameras may be interested in learning more about shutter speeds, and lighting.

There are several kinds of children’s cameras available; however, they generally do not take quality photos. You can get a cheap “adult” camera that will take better photos for the same price. Base your decision on the age of the children and how much “rough and tumble” action the camera will see - kid’s cameras are built to withstand drops, and rougher handling. You can also allow children to use your camera with supervision or purchase disposable cameras for each child.

More Fun Nature Photography Ideas for Kids
Photography scavenger hunts: alphabet, botany, textures, shapes
Themed photography walks: butterflies, beetles, birds, trees, wildflowers
Personal photo book: allow each child to review their pictures and print off or create a personal photobook of their favorites
Nature Journal: Add your nature photos to your nature journal

Castella, K., and B. Boyl. 2006. Discovering Nature's Alphabet. Heyday Books.
Criswell, S. G., et al. 1996. Nature Through Science and Art. McGraw-Hill Companies.
Hass, R. and P. Michael. 2008. River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things. Milkweed Editions.
Lepp, G., and K. V. Lepp. 2010. Wildlife Photography: Stories from the Field. Lark Books NC.
Sweet, T. 2010. Fine Art Nature Photography: Advanced Techniques and the Creative Process. Stackpole Books.

11 Simple Tips for Kids: Nature Photography

National Geographic Kids: Photography Tips for Kids

Nature Mom: Kids ‘n Cameras: Five Tips for Introducing Children to Photography

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mat Daniels receiving the 2014 Brass Bluegill Award from Barb Gigar of the IDNR

2014 Brass Bluegill Award and Brass Bluegill Meritorious Awards

The Iowa Department of Natural Resource’s Aquatic Education Program recently honored three individuals for their efforts in helping Iowa’s youth become skilled anglers and advocates of fishing and natural resources conservation.

Mat Daniels, social studies and science teacher at Kanesville Alternative Learning Center, is the 2014 recipient of the Brass Bluegill Award. Laura DeCook, Naturalist with Mahaska County Conservation Board, and Greg Wolf, Naturalist with the Davenport Parks and Recreation, are both recipients of Brass Bluegill Meritorious Awards. All three awardees have established outstanding local programs that exemplify the goals of Fish Iowa!

Mat Daniels has been involved with Fish Iowa! for four years. He works with 150 students each year and uses the Fish Iowa! curriculum with at-risk students in the Passages Program. Daniels applied for and was granted Fish Iowa! as a curricular choice at his school. It is a nine week course and upon completion students get an elective “Fish Iowa!” credit on their transcript. Daniels says “I believe that fishing is something students can take with them forever.”

Laura DeCook has been involved with Fish Iowa! for eighteen years. She has coordinated fishing and aquatic programs for school field trips, public fishing events, and youth day camps. She also instructs in-class programs relating to aquatics and fishing. Always an advocate of the Fish Iowa! curriculum, DeCook trains and mentors teachers and naturalists wishing to become involved in Fish Iowa!.

Greg Wolf has been involved with Fish Iowa! for twelve years. He started the “Family Learn-How-To-Fish Day” in Davenport.  This day encourages families to discover the excitement of fishing in an urban city. The event is held at Vander Veer Botanical Park Lagoon. Several stations are set up for families to learn different aspects of fishing including: fly tying, casting, water safety, and pole maintenance, among others. Families are also allowed to fish in the lagoon.

All three recipients began fishing at a young age with family members. Their early exposure to the outdoors stirred a lifelong passion that all three have chosen to share with Iowa’s youth. While all three awardees have different programs, they share a commonality of passion for the sport of fishing, and a true desire to see today’s youth given a chance carry on the tradition. Their programs ensure that children will have the chance and opportunity to explore nature, develop a love of the outdoors, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Fish Iowa! strives to create safe anglers and responsible stewards of Iowa’s aquatic resources. Fish Iowa! is supported by Sportfish Restoration Funds, which are obtained from excise taxes paid on fishing tackle and related items and fishing license dollars.

Media Contact: Barb Gigar, Education and Outreach, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 641-747-2200.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, along with Iowa Games and other local businesses, recently hosted a Free Fishing Weekend Family Fishing Event at Liberty Centre Pond in North Liberty. During the event the IDNR and Iowa Games hosted the regional Fish Iowa! Games Casting Competition. Ninety families participated in the free fishing weekend event and ten children took part in the casting competition.

To read the full story written by Holly Hines of the Iowa City Press-Citizen visit: http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/local/2014/06/08/fishing-big-one-free/10177835/

The Iowa Games and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources sponsor Fish Iowa! Games competitions through Iowa schools. Students learn to cast from three distances using flipping, pitching, and overhand techniques. The program is unique in that it allows participants to learn the basic casting techniques then demonstrate them as part of a fun competition.

Friday, May 16, 2014

DNR Hosts Regional Fish Iowa! Games Competition and FREE Family Fishing Fun in June

The regional competition for the Fish Iowa! Games will be held June 7 at the Liberty Centre Pond in North Liberty.  The Iowa Games and Iowa Department of Natural Resources sponsor Fish Iowa! Games competitions through Iowa schools. Students learn to cast from three distances using the flipping, pitching, and overhand techniques.  The program is unique in that it allows participants to learn the basic casting techniques then demonstrate them as part of a fun competition.
All Iowa youth (grades K-12) are eligible to participate in one of two divisions- Regional Medal Class (students who received 1st, 2nd or 3rd placed in their school’s competition) or Open Class (students who did not place in a school competition or did their school did not host a competition).  Contestants will participate in three age groups: age 8 and younger, age 9-11, and age 12 and older. Winners will be eligible to compete in the state finals held in Ames on July 19. Fish Iowa! Games rules and regulations will apply for open class competitions.
June 6-8 are Free Fishing Days in Iowa, so the entire family can try their hand at fishing during the free family event that follows the competition. There will be live fish, experts from Scheels, fly fishing demonstration, food, and prize drawings. Fishing license requirements are waived for Iowa residents for these three days; all other fishing regulations are still in effect. 

Fish Iowa! Games Eastern Iowa Cast Off
WHEN: Saturday, June 7
WHERE: Liberty Centre Pond, North Liberty
TIME: 9 to 11 a.m. – Registration, competition, and awards ceremony
10 a.m. to noon – Free Fishing Weekend Family Fishing Event

An awards ceremony will immediately follow the competition. Participants are asked to stay until the end of the competition as all contestants will be recognized.

Participants are encouraged to pre-register online, but onsite registration is available ($5 entry fee – includes t-shirt).

For additional information contact:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Get a Child Hooked on Fishing

Barbara Gigar, from the DNR Aquatic Education Program, recently taught a "Thinking Like a Fish" seminar at the Altoona Bass Pro Shop during their Spring Fishing Classic. Read the full story (link below) and watch the video to learn Barb's three easy tips for adults when introducing kids to fishing!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Peregrine Falcon Event in Harpers Ferry May 2

The Harpers Ferry Community Center is hosting a peregrine falcon event on May 2, beginning with a fish fry from 4:30 – 7 p.m., followed by a falcon program at 7:15 p.m. The community center is at 133 S. 4th St., in Harpers Ferry.  Admission is a free will offering.
This provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate this rejuvenation and to learn more about peregrine falcons. 

There will be no river trip this year as the Maiden Voyage that has provided tours is being replaced.  Watch for the return of this popular program next year. For further details contact pat.schlarbaum@dnr.iowa.gov or 712-330-0526