Each month the home page of the Gladys Black Environmental Education Project features different information, activities, photos, links, book ideas, and sometimes videos to help you learn about a topic. Below are listed all the topics in the order they appeared on the home page beginning February 2013.

Bird Feeding Fun - Posted February 2013
Basic bird feeding information including types of food and feeders, common feeder bird photo album, Citizen Science projects and links, plus basic birding links.
Migration "Madness" - Posted March 2013
Read about migration wonders, terms, Neotropical and short distant migrants, photo albums, seasonal movements, and how birds impact our lives. Citizen science and many other reliable links, including water loving birds.

Wildlife Restoration - Posted April 2013
Investigate Iowa’s changed landscape and the efforts to restore species of wildlife as our habitats improve. Includes river otter, osprey, peregrine falcons, wild turkey, prairie chicken and trumpeter swans. Also features information on prairie habitat restoration in Iowa.

Chimney Swifts - Posted May 2013
Learn about one of Gladys’ favorite birds! Read about the Gladys Black Memorial Garden and Chimney Swift Tower in Pleasantville, Iowa; chimney swift tower plans, life history, sounds and identification. 

The Des Moines River watershed and its placement within the Mississippi Flyway allows opportunity for all of us to become more aware of our global and local environment. Action ideas include rain barrel and rain garden plans, water trails around Red Rock and Iowa, river clean-up information, including Project AWARE.

What are you afraid of? - Posted July 2013
Learn how to deal with fears, books that may be read that deal with childhood fear, links and photo albums of the ‘unhuggables.’

Wildlife Misconceptions - Posted August 2013
Continuation of the “fears” with misconceptions of reptiles, amphibians and nocturnal (dusk-to-dawn hunters). Links and photo albums.

Ecology of the Rotten Log - Posted September 2013
Learn how important a rotten log is! Introduces vocabulary. Discusses producers, consumers, and decomposers in a forest ecosystem. Activities, links and photo albums.

Preparing for Winter - Posted October 2013
Learn different ways living things cope and survive winter. Includes plants, cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals, and insects. Includes recorded videos of Marion CCB programs, photo albums, and early childhood activities.
Woolly Mammoths in Mahaska County - Posted November 2013
What is a Woolly Mammoth? What are we learning from digging up mammoth bones? Contributed by Mahaska County Conservation Naturalist.

Rocks, Geology, and Coal Mining - Posted December 2013
Marion County geology and coal mining links, videos, activities and photo albums. 
Article contributed by Cindy Blobaum, author of “Geology Rocks!” and Naturalist with Dallas County Conservation.

Camouflage - Posted January 2014
Learn how animals use camouflage, presentation for classroom or home use, photo album, activity ideas and reliable links.

The Winter Night Sky - Posted February 2014
Learn about stars, halos and bows, check out Citizen Science, books, constellation activities, and reliable links.

Owls - Our Early Nesters - Posted March 2014
Iowa owls are the earliest nesters. Information includes natural history and sounds, photo albums, videos and links.

Introduces owl pellets, predator-prey relationships and includes virtual activities, presentations ready for classroom use, photo albums, integrating graphing and math into pellet dissections.

Iowa's Black Gold - Posted May 2014
Learn how Iowa prairies looked prior to pioneer settlement, IPTV links, places for ‘must see’ areas to visit, links, management, and restoration. Assistance from Mark Thompson, Red Rock Lake Association member.

Where does our water go, why are there layers in the soil? Check out soil samples activity, teachers guide to soil activities, reliable links about the secrets of soil, the 17-year cicada hatch in June 2014, and wildlife participation in soils. 

Red Rock's Dirty Secret - Posted July 2014
Red Rock Lake Association helps us understand the concern about the amount of sediment running into Lake Red Rock. Information includes sedimentation articles, resources, videos and vocabulary.

A continuation from ‘Soil Schmoil’ and ‘Red Rock’s Dirty Secret’ encouraging all to take action to reduce sedimentation and the importance and education of Osprey Restoration in Iowa. Osprey are an indicator species of water quality.

Understanding Fall Migration - Posted September 2014
Reliable links and information helps us understand migration mysteries, birds and butterflies, telemetry research, neotropical migrants, habitat health, breeding areas, and dilemmas.

Bats begin with "b" - Posted October 2014
Bats, the benefits of bats, challenges, bat education and activities, Iowa bat photos and information, action activities, vocabulary, books, and a rehabilitators passion for helping Iowa’s bats. Written by Dr. Rebecca Christoffel and Marlene Ehresman, Iowa Wildlife Center.

Let's gnaw on this! - Posted November 2014
What do teeth tell us? Teeth can tell us what kind of animal they are, where they may live, and what kinds of foods they eat. Check out the vocabulary, photo albums of Iowa animals and reliable links.

Balancing Act with Predators - Posted December 2014
An ecosystem really is a balancing act! Learn about food chains, food webs, Iowa information, plus video links to understand the connection between wolves and the health of the Yellowstone ecosystem. Check out the Yellowstone wildlife photo album. Learn about Aldo Leopold’s conservation ethic through a video trailer of ‘The Green Fire Film Project.’

Who Goes There? Unraveling a Mystery!! - Posted January 2015
Wildlife tracks are a mystery you can solve. Learn how to read tracks with the help of tracking guides and photos. Page includes activity links and book suggestions.

Love is in the air! - Posted February 2015
As spring approaches and the desire to begin anew, courtship, defending territory, bonding and nesting are already occurring in some groups of Iowa's resident birds.

Iowa's Wild Canary - Posted March 2015
The Iowa state bird is the American goldfinch. Learn how to identify and attract these colorful birds to your yard. This wild canary was one of Gladys Black's favorite Iowa songbirds, find a link to read one of her newspaper articles from 1972!

Marion County Lake needed a face-lift and planning began in 2011 with a fisheries study. Sill dams and silt retention ponds, along with silt removal from the lake bed were planned. Work began in the fall of 2013 and concluded March 2015.

Welcome to my Garden - Posted May 2015
Iowa is currently considered the most altered state in the nation. It is somewhat troubling to even write that statement. Fortunately many Iowan’s are being creative and working towards the protection of our native plants and animals. Learn about landscaping and gardening for wildlife.

Oh, HONEY, where are you? - Posted June 2015
Learn who the plant pollinators are and why these animals are so important to so many aspects of our life!

Celebrate the diversity of moths! Learn how to tell a moth from a butterfly.

Touch me? Touch me not! - Posted August 2015
Iowans are pretty fortunate. Iowa has just a small handful of poisonous and / or bothersome types of plants. People living in warmer climates must consider numerous things before enjoying their own backyard. How well do you know your plants that surround us each and every day?

"A view of land and people..." - Posted September 2015
Within the history of Iowa, there have been a few well known, forward-thinking pioneers of conservation. Through observation, working with the land, and in-depth teachings about original beliefs and changes of beliefs over time, we would like to introduce you to Aldo Leopold, acknowledged by many as the father of wildlife conservation.

Today, peregrine falcons have successfully returned to the Mississippi River bluffs where they prospered for centuries. It occurred in our lifetime. The falcons’ role as a positive biological indicator species on the health of our environment has returned.

One touch of nature - Posted November 2015
Explore winter with the same enthusiasm as you do spring, summer, and fall! There is much to learn and fun to be had.

The muscle of mussels: A powerful indicator species - Posted December 2015
These amazing little creatures are immensely important to stream ecology and biodiversity.

Majesty! - Posted January 2016
An essay from Bailey Anderson, Central College, Nature and Environmental Literature class: "I couldn’t understand my father’s love for nature by stealing and contorting his love for deer. My admiration for nature had to come from myself, not from my father or day camp, or even from Marla Mertz. They all wanted to foster an appreciation for the majesty of nature, but it’s not something anyone can do for me. All it took was a pair of open eyes, and a few thousand pelicans."

Invitations may create long-standing relationships - Posted February 2016
Feeding birds at a bird feeder or providing landscape plantings that provide fruits, berries, and nuts are not only enjoyable, it’s a great family activity that can be enjoyed no matter the season! 

Bugs and us - all the good they do! - Posted March 2016
Let’s set aside some of our past preconceptions of creepy crawlies and look at some of the benefits they assist us with. With approximately 80,000 species of insects, some harmful, some beneficial, approximately 80 percent of them are beneficial in some way.

Feathers... of course! - Posted April 2016
A brief introduction to the function of feathers, their defining plumage and annual molts. Also defines the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Treaty Act as a commitment by four countries (United States, Russia, Japan, and Mexico) to protect birds that are regularly found in each country.

A Year for the Birds! - Posted May 2016
Many conservation pioneers throughout history have Iowa ties, each having a deep concern for our local and global species, lands, and waters. To continue celebrating birds, International Migratory Bird Day, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial, we introduce you to John F. Lacey, known as the Pioneer of federal conservation legislation.

Extinction? Not just for dinosaurs! - Posted June 2016
Many native wildlife species have failed to thrive within the state due to the changing landscape. Some animals here when Iowa achieved statehood are now extinct (i.e. passenger pigeon) while others were extirpated (no longer found here, but are found elsewhere) from these parts by the early 1900s.

Iowa home for local birds with global importance - Posted July 2016
Bird Conservation Areas have been making a dramatic impact on Iowa wildlife. Along with protecting and providing nesting habitat for many of Iowa’s native species, these areas have a positive influence on non-consumptive wildlife recreation.
Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial - Posted August 2016
This is not the typical column that this site normally chooses, but we would like to introduce to you how Iowa, the United States, and other countries have pulled together to adopt a uniform system of protection to assure the preservation of our avian species.

"Ghosts" in Iowa Woodlands - Posted September 2016
Flower or fungus? After an hour of photographing and then digging out the “old reliables” of resource books, all of these observations pointed in the direction of the ‘ghost plant,’ also known as Indian pipe and fairy smoke.

With a Bright Face - Posted October 2016
With open mind, let’s take a short venture to your nearest garden or wildlife area, camera or not, and take a peek at a few of Iowa’s Orb Weavers. Known for their colorful, intricately patterned abdomens, garden spiders are the common name for the genus Argiope, which means “with a bright face” in Latin.

Plants and Animals Prep for Winter - Posted November 2016
We aren't the only ones getting ready for winter - so are the feathered and furred, the scaly, and the smooth and slimy. Animals are now in a rush to lay eggs, grow a new coat, build a new home, gather food, migrate, prepare for sleep, slumber, or to bid farewell and parish.

Predators and Prey - In Balance - Posted December 2016
Introduction to food chains and food webs and the relationships of each member. An ecosystem really is a balancing act where all the parts must be in the correct number and location. For decades, folks have lived on the land, but not with the land simply because we have not understood all the parts. Living with the land is much different and is really a shift in thinking. This is the conservation ethic that Aldo Leopold wrote about in “A Sand County Almanac.”

Natural Real Estate: A bird's humble abode - Posted January 2017
Natural real estate is considered priceless. The competition of some of our highly respected predators, nesting habitats, and behavior seem to make or break a successful nesting season for many birds.

Eagles of our time - Posted February 2017
Congress chose the majestic bald eagle as our national symbol in 1782. In 1978 because of the Endangered Species Act, the bald eagle was listed as an endangered species in 43 states and as a threatened species in five others. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources eagle monitoring statistics, Iowa has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of nesting bald eagles over the past 20 years. 
Despite the apparent good health of bald eagle populations, challenges to their conservation still exist.

Diversity is Key to River Corridor Communities - Posted March 2017
Healthy soils, waters, habitats, and a healthy community have been the topic of discussion in states and communities for years. Some discussions are negative, others positive, and there are some that simply do not want to understand. Marion County is truly fortunate to be rich in land and water resources. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t work to be done and knowledge to gather.
Bluebirds - Posted April 2017
In a nutshell, bluebirds are what the name indicates-blue. Henry David Thoreau wrote that, “The bluebird carries the sky on its back.” There are three species of bluebirds found in North America: eastern (Sialia sialis), mountain (S. currucoides), and western (S. Mexicana).When our country was settled from east to west, bluebird populations were no doubt abundant, and probably as common as the American robin. In fact, numbers flourished as virgin forests were cleared which provided even better habitat for the bluebird. So what changed? The first of cavity-nesting bird update.

Cavity Nesting Birds - Posted May 2017
Some of our most beloved birds that return to Iowa as their breeding grounds have been experiencing challenges in their habitats. There are numerous species of birds that rely on tree cavities and snags in our woodlands and river corridors. Some species have been assisted by human built housing and others have recovered from disastrous declines. What is the real reason for concern? The beginning of decline for many species begins with the loss of habitat.

Conservation efforts do not happen in a vacuum - Posted June 2017
Osprey reintroduction is a perfect example of how many entities came together over the last two decades for the good of the effort and benefit of all. Osprey reintroduction efforts started in 1997 at Macbride Nature Recreation Area from efforts led by then Macbride Raptor Project Director, Jodeane Cancilla and her ‘osprey village.’  The state-wide effort was assisted by a very passionate and persuasive Wildlife Diversity Technician, Pat Schlarbaum.

When the bough breaks... - Posted July 2017
Many wildlife homes are in trees, whether originally built by them or added on, it can be a costly decision to their survival. An eagle pair, quaintly referred to as the “Gladys Black Eagles” built a nest in an enormous cottonwood tree in a quiet little bay on the south side of Lake Red Rock in or around 2009. The trials and triumphs of this eagle pair, their young, and prevailing through two collapsed nests.

The Peace Tree and Lost Towns - Posted August 2017
The Lake Red Rock area and all of Marion County is rich in diversity and historical attributes. So many people have handed down awe inspiring stories, mapped historical areas, renamed roads and have written down some of the most interesting reflections within their community. Learn about the old sycamore and the towns lost when Lake Red Rock was filled.

Lessons from a Water Lily - Posted September 2017
It has been an exciting two years to watch the aquatic life and fishery thrive at the Marion County Park Lake. Each month, there is something new and exciting that ‘just appears.’ During June 2017, staff were surprised to see water lily leaves appear around the well-used fishing pier. The bloom of the lily was an early morning celebration for the aquatic life that day. 

Barn Owl Connections and Recovery - Posted October 2017
As with many species that are endangered, barn owl recovery and research is ongoing. It is not a hurried and human scheduled clock. The barn owl was listed as an Iowa endangered species in 1977. 2017 has brought good news to Iowa barn owl populations with over 25 nests being reported. It is still unknown how many barn owls reside and nest in Iowa. You can help the Iowa DNR by reporting any sightings of this rare animal to the Wildlife Diversity Program at (515) 432-2823.

 What is a 'sense of place?' - Posted November 2017
A “sense of place” refers to a child’s (or any person’s) connection with their community and natural environment. A sense of place is developed in the classroom with a place-based education approach that fosters those connections. Place-based education immerses children in their local community, landscapes, heritage, and experiences. It is using the local natural and human world to learn science, social studies, math, art, music, and language. Families can also be the catalyst for connecting family members to local places.

One touch of nature... - Posted December 2017
Explore winter with the same enthusiasm as you do spring, summer, and fall! There is much to learn and fun to be had.

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