July 22, 2008

Touch of Nature to host TREE Fund supporters

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- In honor and celebration of trees and their life-giving energy, four dozen bicycle riders from about ages 10 to 75 are putting their feet to the pedals on a trek that will take them about 500 miles this week. Their journey includes a stop at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center Thursday and Friday.

While at the center, located about seven miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road, they’ll also make an entertaining and educational presentation for Camp Little Giant participants and join the youths in planting a tree at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 24.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the TREE Fund 2008 Tour Des Trees presentation and tree planting at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 24, at Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

Often called a “modern day Johnny Appleseed,” Tim Womick offers an energetic presentation about the importance of trees and how people should care for them. Afterward, campers will join him for a ceremonial tree planting.

Womick and the other cyclists began their cycling event Monday, July 21, in Indianapolis and are traveling 60 to 95 miles a day. The ride wraps up Saturday in St. Louis. Each rider secured a minimum of $3,500 in donations to participate and the funds are going toward tree research and providing grants and scholarships in the field, according to Lynn Day, TREE Fund special events manager.

The TREE Fund (www.treefund.org) is a non-profit corporation dating to 1975. Its goals include funding programs and projects pertaining to arboriculture and urban forestry. The fund has provided more than $2 million in grants for tree research and educational efforts. The annual Tour des Trees is the fund’s major event, drawing substantial corporate sponsorships as the largest cycling event of its kind in the industry, Day said.

“Breaking Away to the Gateway” Tour des Trees participants are spreading their message at stops along the cycling route and that includes the event at Touch of Nature’s Camp Little Giant. Camp Little Giant is a therapeutic recreation camp for children and adults with disabilities. This week is Dyna Camp for youths ages 8-16 with attention deficit, hyperactive disorders.