Discover Nature All Around You!
June 23 – August 11, 2021

Fall in love with nature, discover your outdoor surroundings and learn how you and your kids can help protect and have fun in nature. Watch a video online, do the suggested activity outside, answer an optional question and submit it online. The learning videos will include a variety of nature and arts themed topics: 

Squiggly Water Bugs – Wetlands; Creek Adventures – Fish; Buried Treasure – Groundwater; Coughing Pellets – Great Horned Owls; Buzz and Fuzz – Our Native Bees and Wasps; The Marvelous Monarch Migration (from Mexico to the Midwest); Home on the Prairie – Prairies; Tree Detective! – Forests; Those Weird Wild Seeds;  Leaf Lift-Off! – Art; Let’s Write About It! – Writing; Shells, Scales, and Slippery Tails! -Turtles of Illinois; Cheerful Charmers – Bluebirds; Furry Encounters – Mammals

Scroll down to the Learning Videos and Activities section to watch the videos and read about the activities.

Complete at least six of the activities and the Final Participation Form (see bottom of this page for the form) by Wednesday, August 11, 2021 to earn your Natural Land Institute Junior Naturalist Badge. We invite you to participate in this ongoing summer adventure series with your family or on your own!

  • No cost to participate.
  • Register to get started.
  • This free experience is open to all and tailored to families with kids ages two to 14
  • You can do this anywhere. Since these activities are posted online, there is no specific geographic boundary
  • Anyone can participate at their own pace and in any order
  • Completing the videos and final form to earn your badge is based on the honor system
  • A new group of videos will be released on our website and announced over NLI’s email and on social media on Wednesdays: June 23, 30; July 7, 14
  • Chance to win prizes when you register and when you fill out the Final Participation Form. See Prizes for FNA Drawings for the list of items in each prize package.

Register to get started        

Let us know you are participating in Family Nature Adventures by registering here anytime between now and August 11:

By registering you are under no obligation to complete any or all of the Family Nature Activities. We want to know how many people are participating and provide friendly reminders about doing so throughout the seven week program.


Scroll down to the Learning Videos and Activities section to participate

  • GET YOUR JUNIOR NATURALIST BADGE AND BE ENTERED IN THE FINAL FAMILY PRIZE PACKAGE DRAWING

Fill out the Final Participation Form and submit it after you have completed at least six activities to receive the Junior Naturalist Badge and to be entered in the drawing for the Final Family Prize Package. Deadline to finish activities and submit the form: August 11, 2021.


Bonus! Virtual Coloring Book

A bonus activity that is included is a virtual coloring book that features animals in their habitat. This can be downloaded and printed for anyone to color here: FNA Coloring Book. Thank you to artist Laura Sjoquist who created these coloring pages for you. Español: FNA_NLI_ColoringBook_Spanish


Thank You, Learning Video Hosts!

Learning video hosts include NLI’s Education and Marketing & Membership Committee members and other volunteers: Rick Barton, Rob Clark, Machelle Dopkins, Brendan Noble, Pam Shaver, Dawn and Payton Skupien, Julie Tackett, Stacy and Dana Wallace, Andrea Wallace Noble, and Barbara Williams.

Partner organizations include Boone County Conservation District, Burpee Museum of Natural HistoryCity of Rockford Poet Laureate Christine Swanberg, Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab & Education, Northern Regional Groundwater Protection Planning Committee, Severson Dells Nature Center, Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries, and Welty Environmental Center.


Thank You Sponsors!

Major Event Sponsor ($1000)

Mark and Laurie Luthin

Event Sponsors ($500)

 
 
Owned and Operated by RES

 

($550) 

 

 

Supporting Sponsor ($250)

 

 


Thank You Grantors!

This program is supported by grants from the Brubaker Charitable Trust, Grand Victoria Foundation and

 


Thank You In-Kind Sponsor

 

 


Share Your Outdoor Adventures on Social Media

We want you to share with us what you’re doing while you’re participating in Family Nature Adventures. Use #FamilyNatureAdventures for all social media.

Tag us on Facebook: Natural Land Institute and Nygren Wetland Preserve if you go there to do an activity.
Tag us on Instagram: @NLI1958
Tag us on Twitter: @NLI1958 


Become a Member of Natural Land Institute

Are you a member of Natural Land Institute? If not we invite you to become one. Click here to join now to support the protection and preservation of nature.


Visit Nygren Wetland Preserve

We invite you to visit Nygren Wetland Preserve while participating in Family Nature Adventures or for any reason to spend time in nature. Click here to view the map and here to read more about this 721-acre wildlife refuge in Rockton, Illinois.


Learning Videos and Activities

Eager to get started? Register with the form above to receive emails that will announce weekly videos to be released and reminders about participating in the activities to help your kids earn their Junior Naturalist Badge. We will post a new group of videos with activities weekly on Wednesdays: June 23, 30 and July 7, 14, 2021 in the space below. Watch for the first group to appear on June 23.

Shells, Scales and Slippery Tails! WATCH IT. DO IT. KNOW IT.

All About Turtles of Illinois

Thank you to Maria Chiaberta, Director of Education and Anne Weerda, Executive Director  for hosting this learning video about turtles of Illinois. Learn more about Burpee Museum of Natural History here.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity: Go on a turtle hunt near a creek, river, pond or wetland. Use this Turtle Hunt Activity to help you keep track of what you see. After you do the activity fill out the form below to let us know what you found. (Español: Turtle Hunt Activity_Spanish)

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

Home on the Prairie. WATCH IT. DO IT. KNOW IT.

All About Prairies

Thank you to Dawn Skupien and her daughter, Payton, for hosting this learning video about what you can find in a prairie.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity fill out the form below to let us know what you found.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity:  Take a walk and look around your backyard or a nearby park. Look for evidence that an animal used an area as a habitat. Here are some examples:

  • Bird nests
  • Beetle gallery on the inside of bark
  • Cocoons
  • Wasp nest
  • Dwellings can be found in stone ledges or in the ground
  • Goldenrod ball
  • Trail made by an animal

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

Let's Write About It! WATCH IT. DO IT. KNOW IT.

Let’s Write About It!

When you write about something, you get to experience it twice.

Thank you to Christine Swanberg, City of Rockford Poet Laureate, for hosting this learning video. Learn more about her and her role as the Poet Laureate here.  Follow Christine on Facebook here

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity fill out the form below to let us know what you learned or to share something you wrote.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity: Sit in a quiet place, preferably outside, and write one sentence or a short paragraph about your time doing one of the other activities in the Family Nature Adventure series. Use this A Woodland of Words_FNA 2021 for inspiration. You will see examples of how to use synonyms, senses, feelings, comparisons and personification in your writing. (Español: writing Spanish_Hoja De Projecto De Escritura)

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

Cheerful Charmers! WATCH IT. DO IT. KNOW IT.

All About Eastern Bluebirds

Thank you to Rob Clark for hosting this learning video. Rob is on the Natural Land Institute Board of Trustees and has been a bluebird monitor at Nygren Wetland Preserve in Rockton, IL for more than 15 years.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity fill out the form below to let us know what you saw.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity: Go Birding! Sit on a porch, in your backyard or nearby park where you can watch for birds. Try to sit there quietly for 30 minutes or an hour. Use this Bluebird Field Activity to track what you saw. Look for different colors and keep track of the number of times you saw each color on a bird. (Español: Actividad De Campo De Aventuras En La Naturaleza Familiar)

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

The Marvelous Monarch Migration. POWERFUL POLLINATORS!

The Marvelous Monarch Migration from the Midwest to Mexico

Thank you to Julie Tackett for hosting this video and to Machelle Dopkins for creating the Monarch butterfly activity that goes along with it. Both are on the NLI Education Committee.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

 

Suggested activity: Create a Monarch butterfly and then take it outside for a fun adventure! See this Monarch Butterfly Activity 2021_Eng for instructions and what supplies are needed to make it (Español: Actividad De Mariposa Monarca Con Café Filtro) . The photo to the right shows an example of what your activity could look like. Make yours look any way you want it to.

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

 

Buzz and Fuzz. All About Our Native Bees and Wasps. POWERFUL POLLINATORS!

All About our Native Bees and Wasps

Thank you to Barbara Williams for hosting this learning video.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity fill out the form below to let us know what you found.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity:   Build a bee nest. Be sure to get your parents’ or other guardian’s permission and to help with this activity. Here are instructions for different types of nests:

Bee nesting blocks can be made by drilling nesting holes between 3/32″ and 3/8″ in diameter, on approximate 3/4″ centers, into the side of a block of preservative-free lumber. The holes should be smooth inside and closed at one end. The height of the nest is not critical – 8″ or more is good – but the depth of the holes is critical. Holes less than 1/4″ diameter should be 3″ – 4″ deep. For holes 1/4″ or larger a 5″ – 6″ depth is best.

Stem or tube bundles can be made from plants like Teasel, Bamboo and reeds with naturally hollow stems. Cut the stems into 6″ – 8″ lengths. Be careful to cut the stems close to a node to create a tube with one end closed. Fifteen to twenty stems tied into a bunch with the closed ends of the stems together makes a fine nest. Place it so it is protected from the rain or cover it with a waterproof wrap or roof. Paper tubes can be used as well, just be sure they stay dry.

Logs and snags can be placed in a sunny location. Ones with beetle tunnels are ideal. Place a few upright, like dead trees. On the south and east side of each log drill a range of holes as outlined above.

Location of nesting sites is important. Place them where they are sheltered from the worst of the weather, with entrance holes facing east or southeast to catch the morning sun. Be sure the stems in stem bundles are horizontal. The nests can be any height above the ground, but between three and six feet is convenient. They can be placed in a tree, on a building, fence or stake. Fix them firmly so they don’t shake in the wind.

For additional information visit this website: https://www.xerces.org/publications/fact-sheets/nests-for-native-bees

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

 

Those Weird Wild Seeds! POWERFUL POLLINATORS!

Those Weird Wild Seeds!

Thank you to Corrine Daniels, Nursery Director at Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries, for hosting this learning video.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity fill out the form below to let us know what you learned or to share something you wrote.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity:  Look in your yard, garden, even in your food and you will find all kinds of different seeds. Pick a few and compare them. Are they all the same size, shape and color?

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

 

Furry Encounters. All About Mammals. NATURE NINJAS!

Furry Encounters. All About Mammals.

Thank you to Andrea Wallace Noble, Brendan Noble, and Dana Wallace for starring in this fun and dramatic learning video about coyotes and mammals. Thank you to Stacy Wallace for directing it. They are all on the NLI Education Committee.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

 

Suggested activity:   Go on a scavenger hunt to look for signs of mammals living in your neighborhood or a nearby park. Take this Mammal Scavenger Hunt Form 2021 with you. (Español: Busqueda de Tesoro de Mamiferos_Scavenger Hunt Mammals)

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

  • Fill in your answer here:
Tree Detective! All About Forests. NATURE NINJAS!

Thank you to Aaron Wilson, Program Director, and Georgia, Intern for Welty Environmental Center in Beloit, WI for hosting this learning video.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity:   Take a walk around the area where you live. Take this Neighborhood Tree Detective identification worksheet with you to keep track of the number of tree signs you see. (Español: Neighborhood Tree Detective Spanish)

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

  • Fill in your answer here:
Coughing Pellets! All About Great Horned Owls. NATURE NINJAS!

Thank you to Candy Ridlbauer and Cathy Hoover of Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab and Education for hosting this learning video.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity: Take a walk around your backyard or a nearby park and look for signs of owls like whitewash (bird poop) on the bark of a tree or owl pellets on the ground.

If you are interested in dissecting owl pellets you can order them online here.

Learn more about Great Horned Owls and listen to their hoots and calls click here.

Click here to read more about other kinds of owls.

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

 

  • Fill in your answer here:
Leaf Lift-off! An Art Activity. NATURE NINJAS!

Thank you to Pam Shaver for hosting this video. Pam is on the NLI Marketing & Membership Committee.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

 

Suggested activity: Leaf Lift-off!

This craft is a way to transfer the outline of a leaf (or leaves) to paper, as a take-off point for making greeting cards, frameable art, or framing photos.

Supplies:

1. paper

2. something to draw with (stylus)

3. flat broad leaves

Process: Pick up a variety of leaves.  If they are not very flat, sit on them for a few moments!  Lay your paper out on a flat surface – a sidewalk or a picnic table would work.  Lay a leaf on the paper and hold it down with the fingers of one hand, while you take your drawing stylus in the other.  Use very gentle, short sweeps off the edge of the leaf onto the paper.  Continue all around the leaf.  Lift off the leaf, and you should see the shape of it, plus some furry lines radiating from it.  Decorate your leaf “print” any way you like.

Optional supplies and activity extenders:  Beginning this activity with a colored marker for your stylus works well.  It allows for gentle strokes at the edge of the leaf without ripping the leaf.  A little practice is a good idea.  Colored pencil or crayon could then be added over the marker lines. Colored sidewalk chalk or childrens’ chalk, dipped in water (a bit poured from bottled water into the cap when out for a hike) yields very exciting results!  For artwork with chalk, you will need something to keep the drawing from smearing, like fixative or Mom’s hairspray!  (Do that outside, with an adult supervising you.) Different colors and types of paper can be used and layered. Gel pens work marvelous on dark paper!  Scissors could cut a sheet of white copy paper into two equal pieces.  Each could be folded in half and voila – you have designer cards to give to someone.  Use scissors to cut out the leaf’s shape.  Use the decorated background as a mat around a photograph, and pop it into an inexpensive desk-top frame.  Combine more than one leaf to create the image of an animal.  “Lift-off” with ideas of your own!  They are never ending!

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

  • Fill in your answer here:
Creek Adventures. All About Fish. SPLISH, SPLASH! FIND IT IN A FLASH!

Thank you to Ann Wasser and Severson Dells Nature Center for hosting this learning video featuring crayfish and fish.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity:    Go to a nearby creek or pond with a parent or adult and look into the creek for a little while. Try sitting or standing there for 15-20 minutes. Count the number of fish you see and look for other creatures in the water like the crayfish you saw in the video. Can you identify some of the adaptations talked about in the video? Put your comments in the form below if you recognized any.

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

 

Squiggly Water Bugs. All About Wetlands. SPLISH, SPLASH! FIND IT IN A FLASH!

Thank you to Rick Barton, volunteer and member of the NLI Education Committee, for  hosting this learning video.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity:   Go with a parent or other adult to a pond or creek and using a net, scoop up the bottom. Look for squiggly water bugs in what you scooped up. Don’t forget to put them back into the water when you are done. Use this macroinvertebrate tally sheet to see if you can identify what you caught. Español: El Conteo de Macro-invertebrados_Spanish

Resources: Buy economical nets from https://www.acornnaturalists.com/, get cheap nets at a dollar store, or use sandbox sifters if you have any at home. You can also use sand buckets to gather and let the sledge settle.

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

Buried Treasure! All About Groundwater. SPLISH, SPLASH! FIND IT IN A FLASH!

Thank you to Dan Kane, Executive Director, Boone County Conservation District, and to Northern Regional Groundwater Protection Planning Committee for partnering with us to host this learning video.

Watch the video then do the suggested activity. After you do the activity, fill out the form below and submit it.

Cómo activar los subtítulos en español: Comience a reproducir el video.  Haga clic en Configuración en la esquina inferior derecha, luego Subtítulos, Inglés, Subtítulos y Traducción automática.  Desplácese hasta español y selecciónelo.

Suggested activity:   After the next time it rains, go outside and look for places where the water went. Keep a list so you can fill out the form below.

Additional activity: Edible Aquifer 

Fill out the form below and click on the Submit button. Answers are anonymous.

Final Participation Form

Thank you for participating in Family Nature Adventures! We hope you had fun learning about nature in your neighborhood and community.

Before we send you a Junior Naturalist Badge we will need your contact information and would like to know what activities you participated in and hear about your experiences.

We will also ask you optional questions that will help us gather demographic data for grant purposes. This is not required to receive the Junior Naturalist Badge and Certificate. Any information you provide to us will be kept confidential and we do not sell any personal information collected. Here is our website user privacy policy: https://www.naturalland.org/website-user-privacy-policy/

Please fill out the form below and we will mail your Junior Naturalist Badge and Certificate to you.

  • Please fill out one form per participant.

  • Please check all boxes that apply:
  • Fill in the field below:
  • Fill in the field below:
  • If you’re not a member, we invite you to join today to help protect and preserve nature. To learn how you can become a member of NLI by visiting our membership page (https://www.naturalland.org/membership)

    If you’re not a member, we invite you to join today to help protect and preserve nature. To learn how you can become a member of NLI by visiting our membership page (https://www.naturalland.org/membership)
  • CONTACT INFORMATION

  • NLI MAILING LIST

  • How did you hear about Family Nature Adventures?

  • JUNIOR NATURALIST PLEDGE

  • DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONS

    OPTIONAL – Not required. We respectfully request that you fill in the demographic information below on a voluntary basis to help us with future grant applications that ask for this type of information. This is not required to receive the Junior Naturalist Badge and Certificate. Your answers will be kept confidential and only used in a cumulative total.
  • SUBMIT FINAL PARTICIPATION FORM

    Thank you for participating in Natural Land Institute’s Family Nature Adventures. Please submit this form by September 7, 2020 to receive your Junior Naturalist Badge and Certificate.
 

 

 

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