March 17, 2009

Touch of Nature to host open house on March 27

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center will host an open house on March 27.

Visitors can tour the facilities and grounds, find out more about Touch of Nature, and enjoy refreshments.

“We invite everyone to come and join us and see the best-kept secret in town,” said MaryAnne Cunningham-Ismael, assistant director of Touch of Nature.

The event kicks off with a student open house from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. featuring continuous tours the last hour. This will also serve as a time of summer staff recruitment, letting students explore the summer employment opportunities at the expansive facilities. College and high-school age youth are welcome.

The public, including SIUC faculty and staff, are welcome to stop by between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. There’ll be ongoing tours for them from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Those attending can see how Touch of Nature Environmental Center’s programs and facilities can meet their various needs.

Organizers ask that, if possible, those planning to attend RSVP by calling 618/453-1121 no later than March 20.

In 1949, former SIU President Delyte W. Morris suggested the idea for Touch of Nature Environmental Center, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. Little Grassy Camp opened on a 150-acre site a couple of years later. Now bearing the name Camp Little Giant, the nation’s first university-affiliated residential camping program for those with disabilities continues to be very popular.

Since then, Touch of Nature has grown to encompass 3,100 acres and offers numerous types of programming and activities. Touch of Nature, under the umbrella of SIUC’s Division of Continuing Education, is also well known for its underway adventures, spectrum wilderness, therapeutic recreation and environmental education programs. Touch of Nature’s outdoor laboratory also provides conference services and all sorts of development programs and hands-on learning activities and serves as a research field site.

For more information about Touch of Nature Environmental Center or the open house, call 618/453-1121 or look online at