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Educational Resources


Broaden your horizons—teacher workshops, program previews, in-service training and other adult education opportunities are available for a variety of subjects. These unique learning opportunities address both Illinois State Learning Standards and Teacher Performance Standards. Check our calendar for upcoming programs.

Digital Resources

Stay connected to Lake County nature and history from the comfort of home. We have expanded our collection of digital resources—videos, activity sheets, backyard birding, story times, Dunn Museum virtual tours, wildflower walks, and more—to help.

Take a look at the resources below, then check our calendar for upcoming virtual programs. Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @LCFPD. And check back often for even more new resources.


A Tale of Two Ponds

Eileen Davis and Jan Ward, Environmental Educators, recently conducted separate water quality studies of two ponds in Lake County. Take a look at what they found.

A Tale of Two Ponds: Eileen
A Tale of Two Ponds: Jan

Adventures in Nature with Jan

Stay curious and learn about local nature with Jan Ward, Environmental Educator.

Art, Arches and Forts
National Pollinators Month: Jan’s Garden
Pond Scooping

Ask an Educator LIVE

A biweekly Q&A series featuring a panel of educators excited to share their expertise about Lake County nature and history.

September 2, 2020: Nighttime Insects
August 19, 2020: Hummingbirds and Monarchs

August 5, 2020: Paddlesports
July 22, 2020: Turtle Talk
July 8, 2020: Weather
June 24, 2020: Semi-Aquatic Mammals
June 10, 2020: Nocturnal Animals
May 27, 2020: Birds and Native Plants
May 20, 2020: Backyard Birds and Native Plants

Backyard Birding

Photos, facts, and videos straight from the backyard bird feeder of Mark Hurley, Environmental Educator.

Dark-Eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Brown Creeper
American Robin
Brown-Headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Eastern Gray Squirrel

Blanding’s Turtle Recovery Program

Enjoy scenes from our Blanding's Turtle Recovery Program, an effort to boost local populations of the state endangered Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii).

Good Luck, Turt Reynolds!

Creature Feature

Learn timely facts and tidbits once a week about the wildlife you might see in the preserves, and in your yard or neighborhood.


Education Animals

See how staff takes care of our education animals behind-the-scenes.

Fox Snake Shed
Hope You’re Owl Doing Well

Dunn Museum

We are stewards. Storytellers. Educators. Explorers. We are dedicated to sharing the entwined stories of people, events and nature through exhibitions, education and community engagement.

Spotlight on Collections Care
The First People

Hikin’ Tykes

Join Jenny Sazama, Environmental Educator, for fun nature activities designed for children ages 2–4.


Mark's Nature Walk

Tag along with Mark Hurley, Environmental Educator, on his nature walks through the preserves to learn about the common and not-so-common plants and animals he finds.

Part One
Part Two

Mud Kitchen

Has quarantine meant spending a *lot* of time testing new recipes? Try stretching your child’s imagination with a different culinary space: a mud kitchen.

Creating a Mud Kitchen

Nature in My Backyard

Tag along with April Vaos, Environmental Educator, as she explores nature in her backyard.

Whose Scat is That?
Frogs and Toads

One Minute Walks

Want to walk in a preserve, but can’t get there right this moment? Try a soothing One-Minute Walk video to tide you over.

Ryerson Woods

Other Resources

Cardinal Cam
Coyote Choir Practice
Ask An Educator

How to Identify Poison Ivy
How to Remove Garlic Mustard
Virtual Program: Fishing at Independence Grove

Places to Paddle

People love to paddle. Our staff know a lot of places to paddle. Sounds like a match.

Independence Grove Canoe Launch
Russel Road Canoe Launch
Sedge Meadow Canoe Launch
Sedge Meadow to Gowe Park, Part One 
Sedge Meadow to Gowe Park, Part Two
Van Patten Woods

Take a Breather

Take a break with short, relaxing nature videos.

Double Rainbow
Sycamore and Sky

Story Times

Listen to children’s stories read by our educators.
National Tell a Story Day: Stellaluna
Story Time with April: “Jump!”

Wildflower Walks

Learn more about Lake County's beautiful, native wildflowers with Eileen Davis and Mark Hurley, Environmental Educators.

Wildflower Walk at Ryerson Woods: Part One
Wildflower Walk at Ryerson Woods: Part Two

Wildlife Wednesday

We love wildlife. Especially on Wednesdays.

Slow-Mo Hummingbird
Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Two Cranes and a Colt


Trivia Trail

While you’re out walking the trails, why not learn something too? Signs with trivia questions ranging from human and natural history to site-specific information will be placed along a designated trail for the entire month. The final sign will provide information on where to find the answers.

The one-way Trivia Trail begins at the 1.3-mile wetland loop on the west side of Greenbelt in North Chicago. Park at Shelter B and follow the trailside signs.

September's Answers

The one-way Trivia Trail follows the 1.1-mile yellow loop at Fox River in Port Barrington. Park at Shelter B and follow the trailside signs.


Field Trips

Teachers know the value of a good excursion. School field trips give students the opportunity for authentic experiences—getting children out of the classroom and into the world to learn, discover and apply what they know. We bring both nature and history alive year-round with award winning programs and facilities. Our professional educators work hard to make every field trip a rich experience. Spaces fill up fast! Learn more »


Grants are available to help defray the cost of our programs. Our Gateways Grant program helps to defray the cost of these programs for Lake County public schools with limited financial resources, providing a program fee waiver and partial bus transportation reimbursement. In addition, numerous outside organizations provide grants that can be applied to our programs. Learn more »

Lake Education Assistance Program

This Illinois Environmental Protection Agency program provides funding of up to $500 for school and other nonprofit organization participation in lake or watershed related educational field trips, equipment and activities. Learn more »

Target Field Trip Grants

Each year, Target awards 5,000 grants of up to $800 each for field trips. Learn more »

Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grants

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources awards grants yearly to schools to assist students in visiting natural resources sites to learn about nature and conservation. Learn more »

Educator Loan Boxes

Check out an educator loan box and bring a fresh, interactive science lesson to the classroom. Each loan box comes complete with hands-on group learning activities, educational items, and reference materials. Illinois Science Standards are supported, making it easy to incorporate each box into an educator’s curriculum.

Five different themes are available: Birds, Mammals, Insects, Ecosystems, and Plants, Seeds and Trees. As a bonus, the first 10 teachers who reserve any of our loan boxes in 2020 will receive a complimentary bird feeder for their classroom, donated by the Panacea Products Corporation. Learn more »

With a two-week loan period, teachers and students have ample time to explore and repeat activities in each loan box. Activities are geared toward K–5 classrooms, but some items may be helpful to older classrooms. Loan boxes are available to classroom teachers and nonformal educators.


Rental fee: $20 residents/$40 nonresidents

Damage deposit: $25

Late return fee: $10/day

To book a box, please email Pick-up and return are available at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods, or at our General Offices in Libertyville.

Science Explorers in Nature

Science Explorers in Nature inspires middle school students from underserved communities to embrace science and advanced education opportunities. Each year, 36 students participate in this free four-week program. Students conduct hands-on scientific experiments, explore Lake County’s biodiversity and participate in team learning activities. Learn more »

Leave No Child Inside

This Chicago Wilderness initiative aims to connect kids with nature and the outdoors. Learn more »

Fort Sheridan | Middle School Curriculum

Fort Sheridan's rich military history and unique natural resources provide an ideal backdrop for studying topics relevant in today's social studies, science and language arts classrooms. You can download lesson plans and supporting photo cards below, or request a complete educator's kit, available for free to instructors of middle school-level students. Call 847-968-3321 or email us for details.

Teacher Professional Development

Our educators offer a Teacher Open House in the fall and trainings throughout the year. Learn about programs and educational resources for your class, and take part in teacher training sessions with our education staff. Up to two Teaching Training Hours available. Check our calendar for open house date or subscribe to our "Education Programs" email list for updates.

Documents and Forms

Follow the links below to download release and grant forms, and pre and post program activities. 

Waiver/Release Forms

Environmental Education Resources

Museum Education Resource

  • Flowers

    Lake County Nature Blog

    Connect with seasonal nature observations on our Nature Blog »

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    Lake County Nature Cam

    See into the lives of local wildlife with the Nature Cam.

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