Discovery Packs, Park Packs, Adventure Packs...Whatever you call them, Exploration Packs are a growing trend in nature centers, parks, and communities across the nation as a way to get children, families, and individuals out exploring nature on their own. Discovery Packs are filled with tools, activities, and tips on what to do or look for, but allow for users to be guided and directed by their own curiosity.

The Winneshiek County Conservation Board surveyed a number of organizations with Discovery Packs, asking them to provide their best advice for hosting a set of packs. Here, we've compiled their responses, including pack content lists, supplier suggestions, activity guides, and general tips. We hope you find it helpful as you develop your own Discovery Packs.

The Winneshiek County Conservatino Board wishes to thank all other organizations and individuals who assisted with this project and the Iowa DNR's Resource Enhancement and Protection - Conservation Education Program (REAP-CEP) for its support.

All Discovery Pack materials are also available on a CD. Contact us if you'd like us to send you one.

Girl with Discovery Pack

Pack Themes and Contents

Click on each of the themes below to access pack content suggestions, printable handouts, and activity suggestions. If you have additional information you'd like to see added, please feel free to contact us. All files are .pdf unless otherwise noted.

Click here for general Discovery Pack resources and ideas.

Marketing Tips

The following suggestions are compiled from responses to a survey distributed via the IAN (Iowa Association of Naturalists) listserv, as well as from the final reports of organizations that received funding from the Iowa DNR's REAP-CEP for their pack programs.

Send news releases or announcements to:
  • Local newspaper, radio, and tv outlets
  • Area Education Associations (AEAs)
  • Newsletters of Friends of County Conservation Boards, nature centers, or other non-profits
  • School or district newsletters
Post flyers and distribute brochures to/at:
  • Nature centers
  • Campgrounds or park kiosks
  • Community, family, or multicultural centers
  • Libraries
  • Parks and Recreation departments
  • Fairs or expos
  • At teacher meetings
  • After public or school programming
  • Homeschool networks
  • 4-H clubs
  • Boy/Girl Scout troops
  • Childcare centers
  • Community action or assistance organizations
  • Local courthouses, gyms, or shopping centers

Pack Locations

Discovery Packs can also be found all across the country. Contact the locations below to learn more about their pack system. There are surely many more sites with pack programs; let us know if you'd like one added.

National Agencies and Parks
  • Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
  • Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park
  • Mississippi River National River and Recreation Area (Mississippi River Visitor Center, Fort Snelling State Park, North Mississippi Regional Park)
  • National Historic Sites: Fort Bowie, Knife River Indian Villages, Weir Farm
  • National Monuments: Colorado, Effigy Mounds, Pinnacles, Sunset Crater, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki
  • National Parks: Biscayne, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Haleakala, North Cascades, Saguaro, Shenandoah, Theodore Roosevelt, Voyageurs
Miscellaneous Others

1-Sheet Field Guides

These field guides were developed to highlight species that novice outdoor explorers are likely to see on an excursion in Northeast Iowa. They are included in Winneshiek County's Discovery Packs in place of some traditional field guides to make the packs as light as possible and to maximize the potential for positive identification by young users. The guides are adjusted to target either beginner (early childhood and elementary) or intermediate (upper elementary and middle) users, and there are some individual animal profile sheets included as well.

Below are .pdf files of the field guides, which were originally created in Microsoft Publisher. Unfortunately, we are unable to load .pub files onto the website. If you would like .pub files that you can adapt to your own region, please contact us at and we will send them to you directly.