Polk County Conservation

Classroom Programs (Kindergarten - 8th grade)

Polk County Conservation is putting more emphasis on getting students outdoors. Field trips will now take priority over classroom programs. September, October, April and May will be considered field trip months. If you schedule a classroom program during one of those months we may call to reschedule in order to make room for a field trip so we encourage you to schedule classroom programs during the winter months. Naturalists can visit your students two times each school year free of charge. Any additional programs will be $1 per student with a $25 minimum. To schedule a program, please open and download the Program Request Form, complete and email it to Patrice.Petersen-Keys@polkcountyiowa.gov or you call Patrice Petersen-Keys at (515)323-5359.

  • Amazing Reptiles (K-8) (45 minutes) - Discuss the fears and myths about these scaly critters people love to hate. Find out how reptiles smell, see, and move. (A live animal will be used if available.)
  • Amphibians R Us (K-3) (30 minutes) - Find out about these smooth, wet animals that seem to magically transform from egg to adult. (A live animal will be used if available.)
  • Animal Adaptations (3-8) (45 minutes) - Students will discuss that adaptations help animals survive in their environment. Through hands-on exploration of various animal parts, students will learn how animals are uniquely adapted for their environment. Supports Next Generation Science Standards for 4th grade: LS1.A.
  • Animal Classification (2-6) (45 minutes) - Discover what makes each group of vertebrates (animals with backbones) so special. Students will learn the characteristics of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
  • Animals of Iowa (K-8) (30-45 minutes) - What kind of animals live in Iowa? What kind of animals used to live in Iowa? Find out the answers to these and other questions.
  • Birds of Iowa (K-8) (45-45 minutes) – Students will learn about some common and not so common birds in Iowa. A variety of bird mounts will be used.
  • Bug Me (K-6) (30-45 minutes) - Explore the fascinating world of insects and their bizarre ways of life. (A live animal will be used if available.) Students can go on an insect a safari in their school yard with nets provided, this program will be 45 minutes.
  • Cool Craniums (6-8) (45 minutes) - Students will observe "mystery" mammal skulls and compare and contrast the features of each skull. Students will learn the anatomical terms for skull features such as orbits, nasal passages, and foramen magnum. Students will learn how these features relate to physical characteristics or behaviors of each animal. Students will use their observations and recordings to attempt to identify each skull, and will discuss how these physical characteristics helped the animal survive in its environment.
  • Cosmic Connections (3-8) (60 minutes) - Students will compare and constrast the planets in our solar system by using 3D sized balls. Students will also participate in an activity that demonstrates how close the sun and planets are to one another. 
  • Eggciting Facts (K-2) (30 minutes) - Discover the wide variety of animals that develop from eggs.
  • Endangered Species (3-8) (45 minutes) - Identify the factors that cause animals to become an endangered species. (A live animal will be used if available.)
  • Environmental Heritage (5-8) (45 minutes) - Visit with a pioneer woman as she relays the changes in the Iowa landscape and how these changes have affected wildlife. She will also explain what life was like on the prairie.
  • For the Birds (K-6) (45 minutes)– Identify common winter birds and make a pine cone birdfeeder. Educators will need to provide the following materials:
    • Piece of yarn or string 12-18" long - per student
    • One pinecone - per student
    • One craft stick - per student
    • Small plastic bag - per student
    • One jar of peanut butter per class (If there are peanut allergies, use lard or Crisco)
    • 10-12 paper plates
    • Newspaper to cover the desks
    • Small bag of bird seed per class
  • Going Batty (3-8) (45 minutes) - Discuss the fears and myths surrounding bats. Students will learn about echolocation by participating in an activity. Taxidermy bat mounts will be used.
  • Iowa Habitats (K-8) (60 minutes) -Students will discuss that animals live in places where they have the things they need to survive. This includes food, water, shelter, and space. Supports Next Generation Science Standards for Kindergarten: LS1.C, ESS3.A, ESS3.C.
  • Landforms of Iowa (4-8) (45 minutes) - Iowa is not the boring flat state as many think it is. Find out about the different features of Iowa's landscape and how they were formed.
  • Mammal Mania (K-8) (30-45 minutes) - Learn about mammals of Iowa's past and present using real animal pelts.
  • Monarch Tagging (K-8) (45 minutes) – Tag a monarch butterfly (if available) and learn about its life history and migration habits.
  • Owls (3-8) (45 minutes) - View several taxidermy mounts and discuss how different adaptations of owls enable them to be good predators.
  • Pollination Celebration (2-4) (45 minutes) - Learn what type of animals are pollinators and why they are so important. Students will develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal that pollinates plants. NGSS: LS2.A and LS1.B.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Contact Leslie at Metro Waste Authority at 515-323-6505
  • Rock Me (2-5) (45 minutes) - Discover how rocks can be exciting. Students will learn how rocks are formed in hands-on activities.
  • Seed Structure & Dispersal (K-3) (40 Minutes) -Students will try to figure out how the structure of the seeds help them disperse, and how their environment affects their survival. Supports Next Generation Science Standards for Kindergarten: LS1.C, ESS2.E, ESS3.A.
  • Sizing up the Moon (3rd-4th) (30 minutes) - Students will brainstorm ideas about the relative sizes and separation between the Earth and Moon. They will take these ideas and make a model of the Earth and Moon out of play dough and determine the appropriate distance between them.
  • Spiders (K-3) (30 minutes) - Discuss different types of spiders such as web weavers and hunters. Students will learn how spiders hunt and catch their food. (A live animal will be used if available.)
  • Tracks (K-8) (45 minutes) - Become an “animal detective” and learn how to identify common Iowa mammal tracks. Animal furs will be also be used.
  • Trees are Terrific (3-8) - Describe the parts of a tree by acting out and building a human tree.
  • Water Cycle - (2-8) (30-40 minutes) - Students will role-play a drop of water moving through the water cycle and will be able to identify the states of water moving through this cycle. Supports Next Generation Science Standards for 2nd & 5th grade: ESS2.C.
  • Wonders of Weather (2-8) (35-45 minutes) - Students will learn about weather topics such as: wind, tornadoes, clouds, humidity, temperature, pressure systems, lightning, and thunder by rotating through hands-on learning stations. Supports Next Generation Science Standards for 3rd grade: ESS2.D.
  • Winter Survival (K-3) (30 minutes) – Students learn about migration, hibernation, and other ways animals survive the winter.

Contact Us

Administration Office
12130 NW 128th St
Granger, IA 50109

P: (515) 323-5300
F: (515) 323-5354

Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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