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Virtual Programs

The Forest Preserve District offers virtual learning units and the opportunity to “Ask a Naturalist.” All virtual programs are free of charge.  

Learning units include themes on a variety of teaching topics and satisfy Illinois learning standards.  Each three-part unit consists of the following: 

  1. Virtual live program presentation by an interpretive naturalist
  2. Package of self-guided teaching resources 
  3. Virtual live capstone wrap-up with an interpretive naturalist 

Teachers have the option to schedule the program (step 1 above) only if your curriculum does not allow for the unit in full. The program and capstone wrap-up are delivered via Zoom (alternative platforms are available) to engage and educate. A Zoom link is emailed to teachers upon booking. Remote (at home) or in-classroom teaching plans determine the number of students per program. Program dates are flexible and repeatable.

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Virtual Learning Units

Animal Adaptation Challenge

Wild animals have adaptations that allow them to live and survive. Students cheer on an interpretive naturalist as they test themselves against local wildlife’s survival skills. It’s human vs. wildlife at each obstacle along the Animal Habitat Challenge Trail. Who will win the battle of survival?    

Grades: 2-5  
Time: 30 minutes
Area of study: Flora/fauna

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Animal Observations

Students are introduced to the many signs local animals leave behind and the stories they tell. Students learn the importance of observation and how humans benefit from studying animals, including some cool inventions. Your students' observation skills are put to the test as they find as many signs of animals as possible! Students chat live during the capstone to discuss their findings and what they learned about different animals.

Grades: 3-5 
Time: 45 minutes
Areas of study: Ecology, flora/fauna

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Cold Blooded Encounters

Let’s become herpetologists! Your students get to meet the reptile residents who call Plum Creek Nature Center home. Students learn the difference between reptiles and amphibians and how they compare to native reptiles and amphibians living in our ponds, forests and prairies. 

Grades: 2-12 
Time: 45 minutes
Area of study: Flora/fauna

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Diving Deep Into Wetlands

Come discover wetlands from your classroom or homes. This program teaches students about how little fresh water we have on earth, the importance of wetland habitats, pond biodiversity and the unique adaptations belonging to wetland critters. Students join an interpretive naturalist in scooping below the water’s surface. You never know what we will catch! 

Grades: 2-12 
Time: 45 minutes
Areas of study: Ecology, flora/fauna

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Habitat Explorers

Take a virtual hike to the habitats of Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve. Through observation, become aware of habitat similarities and differences and how each habitat meets its inhabitants' basic survival needs. Possible habitats on the hike include wetland, prairie and forest.  

Grades: 2-12 
Time: 45 minutes
Areas of study: Ecology, flora/fauna

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Pollination Exploration

Why do flowers get so many visitors? What is pollination and what good is it? Let’s find the answers by exploring native flowers and critters! Together your class will discover the secrets that flowers and pollinators hold. 

Grades: 2-12 
Time: 45 minutes
Areas of study: Ecology, flora/fauna

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Rippling Rivers

Travel through the rivers of Will County! Students create a simple watershed model and illustrate human impacts on our rivers. Uncover the diverse species that make up the river community. Students are challenged to independently investigate how a specific species serves river habitats. At the capstone wrap-up, students share their research and reveal connections between all members of the river community. 

Grades: 3-5  
Time: 45 minutes
Areas of study: Ecology, flora/fauna 

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Trader Training

Enroll your students for an online training experience to become 18th century fur traders who encounter two residents of 1750s Illinois Country (in first-person character!). Students receive training and practice the barter system used by the French and Native Potawatomi to exchange furs and goods. By participating in a trade, students learn about the benefits of this economic process. 

Grades: 3-
Time: 45 minutes
Areas of study: Cultural history, STEM strong 

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Quest for the Mississippi

Students learn about the travels of Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet down the “mighty Mississippi” River. An interpretive naturalist facilitates a “choose your adventure” activity where students use critical thinking skills to determine the best course of action when faced with the same hardships and successes of Marquette and Jolliet during their 2,500-mile voyage in 1673. The capstone follows up with the personal stories and enduring legacy of the duo.

Grades: 3-
Time: 45 minutes
Area of study: Cultural history 

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Endangered Species Spotlight: Turtles  

Students learn about a local endangered species, the Blanding’s turtle, by meeting one of Isle a la Cache Museum’s animal ambassadors. Learn what special adaptations help these semi-aquatic turtles survive and find out how a species can become endangered. Students also learn what they can do to help local endangered species. Your students will love the behind-the-scenes capstone peek at how we care for the turtles.  

Grades: 3-
Time: 45 minutes
Area of study: Flora/fauna

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Trouble in the Water

Dive into our most important resource — water!  This STEAM-heavy program introduces students to their local watershed while empowering them to think globally and create change. Students are introduced to water issues, including water consumption, quality, scarcity, water waste in agriculture, and plastics. As an independent activity, students model a solution to a local water issue and present it during the live capstone.  

Grades: 4-8  
Time: 45 minutes
Areas of study: Ecology, STEM strong

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Crazy Weather We’re Having

Discover how extreme weather and our changing climate are intrinsically connected. Explore the causes of climate change and its impact on life on Earth. This program helps break down the complexities of climate change to help students confidently and positively effect the world around them. After discussing how humans are driving climate change, students are tasked to research a cause of climate impact and model a resolution for Earth’s future.  

Grades: 6-8  
Time: 45 minutes
Areas of study: Ecology, STEM strong 

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Flex Your Mussels

Meet your local mussels and explore the role they play in our rivers. Discover the secrets of their underwater world and how important they are to the health of our watershed. This program focuses on river ecology and mussels as an indicator of clean waterways. Students will get to flex their own “mussels” exploring filter feeding and experimenting with different water filters. When we come back together, students will discuss their results and how to become an ambassador for the mighty mussel.

Grades: 6-8
Time: 45 minutes
Area of study: Ecology, Flora/fauna

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Stop the Invaders

Invasive species threaten biodiversity in our local ecosystems. Be it microscopic viruses, shrubs or mammals, let’s tackle the important questions. How did they arrive here? What is their impact? Most importantly, what can be done to combat them? After highlighting a variety of species, students research a local invasive species and discuss possible solutions to managing it during the capstone.

Grades: 9-12 
Time: 45 minutes
Area of study: Ecology 

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OTHER PROGRAMS

Ask a Naturalist

Are your students studying a fun and unique topic related to local culture, Will County history or nature? Need an expert to answer questions? This student-driven informal Q&A is your invitation to get the lowdown. Book 30 minutes with one of the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s interpretive naturalists and ask away. This format is not designed to satisfy any Illinois learning standards. 

Grades: 1-12
Time: 30 minutes

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Here to help

These programs offer virtual learning on a variety of areas of study.

Contact the Education Office at 815.722.2025 and tell us how we can be a resource to you and your students.

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