For Educators


Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge's education program focuses on increasing understanding of the ecological significance of the area and developing a life-long appreciation of wetlands and associated biological diversity. We offer school field outings, educational trunks, guided canoe tours, and classroom presentations. For detailed information on each of our activities, please see the information listed below, or for a printable flyer click here.


Scheduling Your Group

Scheduling takes place on a first-come-first-served basis and visits to the area are free. When you call we will need to know:

  • Date and time you would like to visit
  • Name of teacher/lead educator
  • Total number of students and adults
  • Complete school address and telephone number
  • Type of program (onsite, classroom visit, special event, trunk rental)
  • Special needs

After your class has been scheduled, a confirmation will be mailed, emailed, or faxed to you; this includes a schedule of your day, group guidelines, registration papers (if applicable), and education materials to prepare you and your class for your trip. To schedule your group call Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge at 618.634.2231. To ensure a great trip, check out these pre-visit preparation tips.



Environmental Education Programs   


 Cache River Wetlands Ecology
     Staff from Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and Shawnee Community College offers educational organizations a chance to learn about wetlands ecology through guided canoe tours in the Cache River Wetlands. Through observation and critical thinking, students will answer questions about biodiversity, biology, ecology, and geography and how it affects themselves and their communities. Canoe tours are available Wednesdays through Thursdays (by reservation only) and include a 1.5 or 3 hour guided trip (3 – 6 miles). This program is geared for students in 6th grade and up. Due to a limited number of canoes, only 24 participants may canoe at a time. For more information or to schedule a canoe tour please contact the Refuge at 618.634.2231.


 Education Trunks
Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge offers education trunks as a fun and easy way to teach about this unique area. The activities associated with these trunks focus on developing a life-long appreciation of wetlands and associated biological diversity. The trunks include step-by-step activities and related tools and materials for educators to lead the program on their own, or if available, a staff member may be available to lead the class. Each trunk includes an outdoor and indoor option in case of bad weather. Expected duration of trunk activities ranges from 1 to 2 hours. Education trunks are available for check out on a first come-first served basis, and may be reserved for up to 2 weeks. For more information on checking out a trunk or scheduling a staff member to present a trunk please contact the Refuge at 618.634.2231.


Available Trunks

 Hoot and Holler All About Owls: Students will learn about an owls special adaptations and will also dissect an owl pellet to learn about their role in the food chain. (Grades 4-8)

Snakes of Southern Illinois:  Students will gain a better understanding of a snake’s role in the ecosystem and how to identify the venomous species found in southern Illinois. (Grades 4-8)

Bats in the Cache: The Refuge provides habitat to 13 species of bats. Students will learn about the special features that help them survive and develop an understanding of the value of bats and strategies used to protect their habitat. (Grades 6-8)

Wetland Wilds: Students will learn about wetland animal adaptations through hands on instruction with pelts, skulls and other bio-facts. (Grades 4-8)

Wetland Birds and their Habitat: Program will focus on bird adaptations, the value of habitat, and management techniques used to protect and restore wetland communities. (Grades 4-8)

The Spice of Life: Students will learn about the current status of biodiversity issues, how humans can help ease species loss, and the benefits of a biologically diverse system. (Grades 4-12)

Water Canaries: Students will investigate aquatic life and its importance and interaction within the wetland community. (Grades 6-12)

Insect Safari: Students will learn the importance of insects to all living organisms and study the various ecosystem functions insects provide. (Grades 6-12)

Aquatic Tolerance: Students will measure 3 abiotic factors (temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen) and learn about their effects on aquatic ecosystems. (Grades 6-12)


Junior Duck Stamp: Make Way for Ducklings

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge offers a special program in coordination with the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest for grades 1 & 2. This program teaches students about the importance of waterfowl, their biology, and habitat. Refuge staff will lead the class in discussion and read the award winning Make Way for Ducklings with students; students will be asked to draw conclusions about the challenges waterfowl face in finding suitable habitat.  Using this information, a visual aid, and their own creativity, students will design a drawing to be submitted to the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest. This program is offered seasonally in the winter months leading up to the Junior Duck Stamp Contest, with the deadline typically in March. 


For more information, please visit the FWS Jr. Duck Stamp Homepage, or to schedule a program please call the Refuge at 618.634.2231.





Kids to the Cache

Kids to the Cache, sponsored by Friends of the Cache River Watershed, provides grants to help local schools cover transportantion costs for field trips to Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and the Cache River State Natural Area. Grants are awarded in the fall and the spring; to apply, please fill out the application form and send it to: Friends of the Cache River Watershed

                Attn: Transportation Grant

                8885 State Route 37 South

                Cypress, IL 62926

or for more informaiton contact Jodie Delaney at


If you are interested in supporting Kids to the Cache, either through donation or helping to get the word out about this fantastic program, please see the  Kids to the Cache flyer.


Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant

Teachers in Illinois Schools, including home-schooling teachers, may apply for the Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant. This grant is offered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources through the ENTICE program (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) to cover the costs of transportation and substitute teachers for fieldtrips relating to Illinois biodiversity and natural heritage. For applications and more information on the Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant please visit IDNR's Grants page.