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Touch of Nature Environmental Center, Illinois – Volunteer Vacations 2022

April 10, 2022 - April 16, 2022

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Touch of Nature Environmental Center hosts experiential education programs that utilize the many natural resources on and around its 3,400 acres located in beautiful Southern Illinois. These programs offer opportunities for all people and focus on traditional outdoor activities, environmental education, and adventure pursuits. Touch of Nature is currently working to create 15 additional miles of trail to the existing trail system in Shawnee National Forest. This project includes maintaining existing trail with actions such as brushing, clearing water bars, and retreading eroded surface. The main component of this project, however, is helping to clear and bench cut the new sections of trail on Touch of Nature Property. Project days will require 1-3 mile hikes to work sites, while carrying packs and tools. Potential projects include cutting tread and adding drainage features, rock gardens, and established berms. This project will provide a great opportunity for trail building education and experience. All trail building instruction and tools needed will be provided on site through Touch of Nature’s trail staff, making this an excellent project for first-time volunteers.

AHS acknowledges with gratitude that this project takes place on the traditional lands of the ?????? ???? ???? ??^??^(Osage), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, O-ga-xpa Ma-zhoⁿ (O-ga-xpa), Myaamia, Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), and Kaskaskia peoples past and present. We honor the land itself, the Indigenous communities who have stewarded this land for generations, and those who continue to steward these lands today. AHS invites all volunteers to join us in our commitment to support and amplify the work of Indigenous communities as they work to dismantle the systems of oppression that these communities continue to face today.


Touch of Nature Environmental Center




Day hiking up to 2 miles each work day.

Project Rating


Minimum Volunteer Age


Maximum Group Size


Area and Attractions

Touch of Nature is a 3100 acre Environmental Center nestled amongst some of the coolest natural land features in the Midwest. Located in southern Illinois, the center is bordered by a 900 acre lake, Giant City State Park, and Crab Orchard National wildlife refuge. Touch of Nature currently has 12 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails that are accessible to the public. Built recently, these bike trails offer a wide range of challenge to new and experienced riders alike. Just a 5-minute drive down the road from Touch of Nature is Giant City State Park, which has 2 climbing areas, Devil's Standtable and Shelter 1, that offer a wide variety of sport and traditional climbing options. This park is known for its beautiful hikes and unique land features, and attracts more than 1.5 million visitors annually. A short drive from our facility allows several access points to the Shawnee National Forest, a 289,000 acre forest with ample opportunity for recreation. The River to River trail, a 160-mile hiking trail that spans from the Ohio to the Mississippi, passes through this forest, and is one of the most popular trails in the area. Aside from outdoor recreation, the town of Carbondale offers plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, a movie theatre, a college campus, and other places to recreate.

Accommodations Description

Volunteers will stay in rustic, dorm-style cabins with a communal bathroom and shower house. Volunteers will eat 3 meals a day in the nearby Freeburg Dining Hall. Volunteers will have access to wifi, laundry, fire pits, shelter houses, and hiking trails within a short walking distance from cabins. Volunteers need to bring their own linens (sheets/bedding or sleeping bags) and towels. Please contact volunteer@americanhiking.org for assistance with gear needs.


St. Louis Lambert International Airport in St Louis, MO is the closest major airport. Airport pickup is not provided for this trip. Volunteers are responsible for transportation to and from camp and the work site. Carpooling can be arranged once the project is confirmed.


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