Barn Owls May Be Coming Back to Iowa

Written by our Board Vice President, Erv Klaas   I just finished reading the Fall 2014 issue of the DNR’s Wildlife Diversity Newsletter in which biologist Bruce Ehresman wrote an article entitled “What’s Happening With Iowa’s Barn Owls?”  It brought back nostalgic memories of my own encounter with Barn Owls more than 40 years ago.  It was in the early years of my career as a research biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland.  I was conducting studies on the effects of DDT and other organochlorine pesticides on Barn Owls.  The Chesapeake Bay was dotted with numerous off-shore blinds built by duck hunters.  These were often elaborate structures consisting of a large wooden rectangular box mounted on stilts in shallow water.  A partial roof projected over a bench for 3 to 4 hunters to sit inside.  A rough lean-to on the blind provided a place to hide a boat.  The outside of...
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Artsy Turn on Learning History

During the winter round of the capstone events through the Kids on the Byway Program, Joyce and Bob Ausberger, members of the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association came into Kate Mitchell Elementary 5th grade classrooms to talk about the Lincoln Highway. They brought along artifacts, photos, and many very interesting stories about the history of the Lincoln Highway and its important role in the Westward Movement of North America. They also presented a contest to the students that involved some Lincoln Highway prizes. The contest consisted of the students in those two classes drawing pictures, making art projects, or anything else creative that represented the meaning of the Lincoln Highway. The capstone event was educational, and the students really enjoyed this artful of learning about history. Below is a photo of one of the entries from a Kate Mitchell 5th grade student for the Lincoln Highway contest. Click below to go to the Iowa Lincoln Highway Webpage http://www.iowalincolnhighway.org/ILHA_history           ...
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Getting Kids Excited About Science

According to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 30 percent of parents with children in kindergarten through fifth grade say that their child's school put too little emphasis on science curricula. There is a need in science education today to "spark learning" and genuine curiosity in young students. Students feel forced to understand and memorize facts instead of figuring out the reason why the answer is that answer. This ignorance of science is one of the main reasons why the Next Generation of Science Standards was developed.  NGSS is a "multi-state effort to create new education standards that are "rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education."  Minnesota teacher Mary Colson, a contributor to the development of the new standards, said that the standards aim to get the students thinking more like a scientist.  Other efforts...
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