August 15, 2016

Touch of Nature seeks volunteers for trail work

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Touch of Nature Environmental Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s unique outdoor experiential education facility, is hosting two special events to help restore and expand the extensive trail system. 

Groups and individuals are welcome to participate in the Trail Stewardship Days, taking place on several weekend days during the months of September through November. Volunteers will be working to clear existing trails and create new trails in the 3,100-acre camp in the Shawnee National Forest, founded as a 150-acre outdoor learning laboratory in 1949 along the shores of Little Grassy Lake. 

Sessions will take place from 9 a.m. until noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. People may sign up for one or both sessions on any of the available days. All participants must pre-register at least 48 hours in advance. 

The schedule for the free Trail Stewardship Days includes:

  • Sept. 11, 18 and 25
  • Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30
  • Nov. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20

No sessions will take place during SIU’s Thanksgiving break. 

To register for Trail Stewardship Days, call 618/453-1121 or visit

In addition, Touch of Nature, in partnership with the American Hiking Society, is sponsoring its inaugural Volunteer Vacation Oct. 16-22. Volunteers ages 15 and older will stay in Touch of Nature’s rustic cabins and enjoy Mother Nature as they clear pathways and create new trails at the facility, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. The cost for this weeklong adventure varies and ranges from $195 to $325. For more information about this project or to sign up, visit

Participants in the Trail Stewardship Days and the Volunteer Vacation should dress appropriately for the location and work they’ll be doing. Tools will be provided along with instruction in how to properly use them.