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Shawnee National Forest, Touch of Nature Environmental Center

October 14, 2018 - October 20, 2018

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The Touch of Nature trails initiative learned from the USFS’s Shawnee Volunteer Corps is rebuilding a new system of trails. The initiative has become an environmental education program of its own through the integration of educational components during work sessions. It also has become a community building project for the center through the many campus and community organizations who volunteer. The trail initiative is an integral part of our annual summer camps and the numerous school groups we bring to Touch of Nature. As a regional resource for connecting people to the land and promoting hiking and paddling for recreation and sustainable healthy living. Work will include but is not limited to clearing trails of organic materials creating new trails or enhancing and developing our programming areas using Pulaskis, McLeods, shovels and rakes. Volunteers will work on creating a back-slope, tread and an out-slope. As well as any other tasks that arise during your stay here.

This trip is hosted and crew led by the Touch of Nature Environmental Center.


Touch of Nature Environmental Center




Day Hiking up to 2 miles per day

Project Rating


Minimum Volunteer Age


Maximum Group Size


Area and Attractions

Southern Illinois Universities’ Touch of Nature Environmental Center sits on 3,100 acres of the unglaciated Shawnee Hills natural division of the Shawnee National Forest. The Eastern border of the facility is Little Grassy Lake, one of three lakes on Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. It shares it’s Southern and Western borders with Giant City State Park and Crab Orchard Wilderness Area which the trans-state River to River Trail traverses. A National Environmental Education Landmark (designated by NPS) and outdoor laboratory for the university “T.O.N.E.C.” has been serving a broad range of populations as a leader in the fields of environmental, therapeutic, outdoor, adventure, and challenge experiential education for 65 years. Southern Illinois is known for its lush hills, diverse ecosystems, sandstone cliffs and numerous lakes. Recreation opportunities include but are not limited to: hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, fishing, and camping.

Accommodations Description

Volunteers will stay in semi private rustic cabins holding 2 twin beds in each room. with access to internal bath houses. Access to outdoor/indoor fire pit is available as well as cooking gear. TONEC will provide volunteers with linens (twin sized sheets, pillow, and towel) and cup/bowl/eating utensils. Volunteers should bring their own personal items. The host will provide activities in the afternoon that show what Touch of Nature and the local area has to offer. In the past groups have gone on a night hike, campfire activities and gone to the local United States Forest Service Visitor Center that talks more in depth about the local area and its history. The group will enjoy the last night's dinner together at Giant City State Park Lodge with all you can eat fried chicken.


Airport Pickup provided from Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois


Shawnee National Forest, Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center
1206 Touch of Nature Road, Makanda, IL 62958 United States