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The Forest Preserve District of Will County is proud to be a part of Will County's educational system, and we value our relationship with Will County's educators. Please check this page often for our latest environmental education news, updates on field trip and educational grants, information about the in-service workshops we offer, and details about our Resource Loan Kits.

Environmental Education News

'Water|Ways' Traveling Exhibit Comes to the Forest Preserve District

Four Rivers Environmental Education Center has been selected to host "Water|Ways," a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution that examines the significance of water in the human experience. The exhibit opens Saturday, January 28 and will be on display through Saturday, March 11. Several ways exist for your students to experience this one-time opportunity: sign up for a school field trip, reserve a classroom loan kit, and encourage students to bring their families to the exhibit and to the many other public programs being offered in conjunction with "Water|Ways."  

"Water|Ways" Field Trip for 5th and 6th Grade Students

A naturalist will lead students through “Water|Ways”and companion exhibits where they will interact with fun activities to learn about local and global water concerns. Students are challenged to engineer a solution or create an educational campaign for water issues relevant to today.

Reservations are required.  
Program Length: 2 hours.  

"Water|Ways" Self-Guided Field Trip for 7th through 12th Grade Students

Bring your students out to experience the “Water|Ways” and locally focused companion exhibits. The self-guided student worksheet explores the relationship between humans and water. 

Reservations are required
Program Length: 1-1.5 hours. 

"Water|Ways" Resource Loan Kits for In-School Use, Kindergarten through 4th Grade Students

Loan kits have a collection of books highlighting rivers and the wonders of water. Each book is accompanied by lesson plans or suggested activities that teachers can use in their classes. Kits also include materials and props to enhance lessons. Loan kits are free of charge and available for a two-week loan period. There are two loan kits available for reservation. Pick up and drop off is located at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center.

Field Trip Availability: January 31-March 2, Tuesday-Thursday.
Maximum of two classes (60 students) per time slot.
To reserve a loan kit or book a field trip, please call 815.722.9470 or email FReducation@fpdwc.org.

For more information on "Water|Ways" or to view other related programs, visit the full event calendar on Four Rivers Environmental Education Center's Facebook page.

"Water|Ways" has been made possible at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center by Illinois Humanities.

"Water|Ways" is a part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

“Water|Ways” was adapted from an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org), and the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul (www.smm.org), in collaboration with the Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland; The Field Museum, Chicago; Instituto Sangari, Sao Paulo, Brazil; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada; San Diego Natural History Museum; and Science Centre Singapore with PUB Singapore. 

Classroom Support Materials

A variety of different classroom materials packets are available to educators free of charge. Each packet contains several resources that are topic-specific. Available topics include:

Food ChainsWatersheds
HabitatsThe Water Cycle
Local Native American Culture
DecompositionAnimal Adaptations/Natural Selection
Ecological RestorationMammals
Jolliet and MarquettePredator/Prey Relationships

Materials packets are made up of a collection of 3-7 resources. Materials are pdf formatted and user ready. The variety of resources per materials packet includes:
  • In-Class Activities
  • Topic Specific Glossary
  • Loan Kit Recommendations
  • Student Worksheets
  • Outdoor Activities for School Grounds
  • Student Copy Pages
  • Recommended Student Readings
To request your classroom support materials, email education@fpdwc.org or call 815.722.5890.

Field Trip and Environmental Education Grants

Educator with BoySchoolyard Habitat Action Grant

Teachers and youth group leaders may apply for this competitive grant program to develop or enhance wildlife habitat in the schoolyard or other public place. The grant is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Conservation Foundation. This grant program awards up to $1,000, and the deadline for submission is November 30, 2015. For more information or to apply for a grant, visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Web site.

Target Field Trip Grants

Would you like to take your students on a field trip, but the challenge of funding is holding you back? Consider applying for a Target grant for class field trips. Each year, Target supports teachers across the country, providing small, one-time grants to help fund the out-of-class learning experience. This grant program awards up to $700, and the deadline for submission is September 30, 2015.
For more information or to apply for a grant, visit the Target Web site.

Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant

Illinois teachers and home school educators may apply to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to receive funding for natural resources related field trips. This grant program awards up to $500 per teacher, and the deadline for submission is January 31, 2016. For more information or to apply for a grant, visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Web site.

Environmental Education Association of Illinois Mini-Grant

The Environmental Education Association of Illinois (EEAI) mini-grant program is designed to support, enhance, and expand the implementation of environmental education throughout the state of Illinois. This grant program awards up to $350 per proposal, and the deadline for submission is October 31, 2015. For more information or to apply for a mini-grant, visit the EEAI Web site.

Boy Cutting BrushProject Learning Tree GreenWorks! Grant

The Project Learning Tree (PLT) GreenWorks! grant program provides funding for service-learning projects led by students, such as forest improvement projects, streamside restoration plans, recycling programs, and energy conservation projects. This grant program awards up to $3,000, and the deadline for submission is September 30, 2015. For more information and to apply for a grant, visit the Project Learning Tree GreenWorks! Web site.

In-Service Workshops

Forest Preserve District staff will conduct a variety of in-service trainings on institute days, school days, or after-school hours for formal educators. Workshops are offered free of charge to schools serving Will County residents. One month advance notice is required. CPDU Hours are available. For information, call 815.722.5890.

Flying WILD

Interactive, interdisciplinary, standards-based activities have been field tested in classrooms around the nation. Topics center on basic bird biology, identification and ecology, bird conservation, and service learning. These activities are designed to engage students in real-world learning to understand the importance of migratory birds and their conservation. All participants completing the workshop will receive an Educator Training Certificate of Completion, and the Flying WILD manual. (3-6 CPDU Hours)

Habitats for Schools

Girl with MapCreate an outdoor learning space at your school. Explore types of schoolyard habitats, cross-curriculum and multiple intelligence applications, and funding sources. Each participant will receive a binder of resources. District staff will visit your school to plan your site. We will also discuss how to form a team to implement your ideas and get your principal on board. Follow-up visits will help see the project through completion. (2-4 CPDU Hours)

EE Delivered

Remove the barriers to incorporating environmental education (EE) into your curriculum. Teachers will receive an overview of what the District has to offer to support your classroom through programs, facilities, workshops, and materials. Teachers will learn about the EE community and the organizations and opportunities that await educators. District staff will also present the basics of how to teach in the outdoors and to bring the outdoors in. (2 CPDU Hours)

Resource Loan Kits

We have resource loan kits available to teachers across the county, and this workshop is designed to spend time with each kit and its contents, allowing you to explore the materials and participate in activities. The workshop will be held both indoors and outdoors, so please dress for the weather. (2 CPDU Hours)

Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary environmental education program for PreK-12 teachers. PLT is a program of the American Forest Foundation. It is one of the most widely used environmental education programs in the United States and abroad, and continues to set the standard for environmental education excellence. During the workshop, teachers will participate in several hands-on, forest-themed activities ready to take to the classroom. Every educator will receive a copy of the Project Learning Tree Activity Guide that details 96 interdisciplinary activities.

Photographs Courtesy of Jessica Prince-Sharrar and Glenn P. Knoblock

Resource Loan Kits

Topic-themed kits are available to teachers and home school parents provided by the Forest Preserve District and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

These Resource Loan Kits are a collection of educational materials that include games, videos, equipment, and field guides that help students explore a specific subject. Each kit has enough supplies for 30 students and is available for a two-week loan period. There are no rental fees at this time, but lost, broken, or missing items will be paid for by rentee.

Click any of the Resource Loan Kit titles below to download a checklist of kit contents. To reserve kits and arrange pickup and drop-off, contact the Sugar Creek Administration Center at 815.722.5892.

Mammals of Will County
Native Americans: Life and Lifestyles
Urban Ecology
Illinois' State Symbols
Water and Wetlands
Illinois Insects and Spiders
Illinois Prairies
Illinois Tree Trunk
Illinois Fossils
Illinois' Invasive Species
Pioneer Life

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17540 W. Laraway Road, Joliet, IL 60433
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