Teacher Resources

Connect “Iowa Outdoors” to your classroom with these resources. Many of these sites and resources are designed specifically for teaching and learning.

Endangered and Threatened Species

Iowa's Threatened and Endangered Species Program
Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesIowa has changed greatly since becoming a state in 1846. Since then changes in the land and other factors such as channelization of streams and rivers, soil erosion, development and urban expansion, and intensive row crop agriculture have contributed to the loss or degradation of suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species. Access profiles and fact sheets about threatened species living in Iowa.

Living On The Edge: Endangered Species in Iowa
Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land StewardshipThis presentation provides information about the federally listed endangered and threatened plants and animals known to presently occur in Iowa, including profiles and pictures of federally listed species in Iowa.

Aquatic Animals and Water Quality

Explore More: Water Quality
Iowa Public TelevisionThe water we drink, the places we swim, and the plants and animals within our environments are increasingly threatened by pollution. Agriculture and urban runoff, industrial and household uses, and other sources impact this vital resource. What are the biggest threats to water quality in your area? Online video, articles, interactions and lesson plans help students explore the issues and get the facts.

Iowa DNR Aquatic Education Program
Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesThis program provides a variety of educational materials and training opportunities to educators and youth leaders free of charge. Get information on involvement programs in your area including Projects WILD Aquatic, Project WILD, and Learning Tree. You can also download aquatic animal fact sheets and activity books.

Fishes of Iowa
Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesCurrently, there are 148 different fish species within Iowa. Each one is described in this site including information on family characteristics, methods of identification, distribution and food habits, state record fish, and a brief biology on the fish.

Iowa Geological and Water Survey
Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesIowa Geological and Water Survey provides downloadable magazines, pamphlets, and presentations designed for classroom use.


Great Backyard Bird Count
Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon SocietyThe Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Learn how your class can get involved!

Climate and Weather

Iowa Pathways: Environment
Iowa Public TelevisionIowa Pathways is an online learning environment that challenges students to explore Iowa history. Delve into the mysteries of the earth’s beginnings. Trace the formation of Iowa’s landforms and animal habitats. Explore Iowa’s natural history and how the environment continues to be part of our Iowa story.

Climatology Bureau 
Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land StewardshipAccess recent and historic climate data to analyze and use in your classroom.

Trees and Plants

Connections to Science: Tree Identification
Iowa Public TelevisionNaturalist, Heidi Anderson, teaches students about her job as a naturalist, what taxonomy is, and how to use a use a dichotomous tree key to identify a deciduous and conifer tree.

Identification of Common Trees of Iowa
Iowa State University ExtensionThis interactive key helps to identify the most common trees in Iowa. The key is based on vegetative characteristics such as leaves, fruits, and bark.

Forestry Definitions
Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesIf you or you students need to brush up on your forestry terms, this site provides clear definitions.

The Land and Geology

Explore More: Working Landscapes
Iowa Public TelevisionAs our population grows, so do the demands we put on our natural areas. From houses to farms, landfills to hiking trails, working landscapes are a way of sustaining the land by balancing the social, economic, and ecological needs. Can we protect our natural areas and still use them? Online video, articles, interactions and lesson plans help students explore the issues and get the facts.

Connections to Science: Geology
Iowa Public TelevisionAuthor and naturalist, Cindy Blobaum, teaches students about geology and minerals through a demonstration using cookies. Learn about what rocks are made of, how geologists test rocks, and where minerals are found in household items. This video is targeted at students in grades 3-6.

Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea
Public Broadcasting SystemThe wealth of themes explored in The National Parks: America’s Best Idea documentary offers an extraordinary educational opportunity for your classroom. The lessons and activities developed around the film look at the rich history of the national parks, the art and photography of the breath-taking geography that inspired so many people and the human story of politics and policy that shaped and continue to shape the parks today. This site includes curriculum units, lessons, and images about the National Parks in the United States. A study guide also helps you connect the film to your class curriculum.

Nature Resources


Iowa Public TelevisionNature, television's longest-running weekly natural history series, has won more than 200 honors from the television industry, parent groups, the international wildlife film community and environmental organizations, including the only award ever given to a television program by the Sierra Club. This website for educators offers videos, lesson plans, online interactive activities, teacher guides and much more.

NOVA: Nature: Website
Iowa Public TelevisionNOVA is the highest rated science series on television and the most watched documentary series on public television. Find videos, lesson plans, photos, interactive activities, and interviews with experts in this portion of the site.

Wild Kratt: Website
Iowa Public TelevisionWild Kratts joins the adventures of Chris and Martin Kratt as they encounter incredible wild animals, combining science education with fun and adventure as the duo travels to animal habitats around the globe. This site provides video, lesson plans, games, videos, and lesson plans.

Iowa DNR
Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesThe Iowa Department of Natural Resources educator’s site offers information on field trips for you and your class, as well as ways you can access or build demonstration models and kits for your classroom.

Iowa DNR Interactive Mapping
Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesUse the interactive mapping database to identify where in Iowa specific animals live or to identify what animals are in a specific county.