September 16, 2016

Touch of Nature hosts variety of events in October

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center is offering a diverse selection of activities for community members in October.

Breaking the Surface, a free community paddling event on Little Grassy Lake, will take place on Oct. 1 at the center, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. Paddling enthusiasts and rookies alike are welcome. The center will provide all of the essentials for a day on the water: canoes, kayaks, personal floatation devices and paddles. Those attending are encouraged to bring snacks, water bottles and water shoes or some type of appropriate footwear that they don’t mind getting wet.

Event check-in begins at 1 p.m. Open paddling will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. Also during that time, visitors can enjoy interpretive hikes along Rocky Ledges Trail and paddling instructions will be offered to beginning paddlers. Snacks and beverages will be available 5-6:30 p.m.

Paddlers may also bring their own watercraft. In order to be used on the lake though, vessels must have a Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge sticker or day pass, available for purchase at the event.

No pre-registration is required to participate in Breaking the Surface. Free shuttle service will be available from the SIU Arena to Touch of Nature at 1 and 3 p.m. and the shuttle will make a return trip from Touch of Nature to the arena at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The Southern Illinois Treatment-Free Beekeeping Seminar Series Oct. 7-9 offers anyone interested in learning about beekeeping the opportunity to do so from one of the leading experts in the field.

Michael Bush, a beekeeper since the 1970s, will lead the seminar. Treatment-free beekeeping is based on the natural operation of a hive and encourages its health through the use of natural selection so the bees build a strong, healthy colony without the help or interference of chemicals or equipment.

“An Evening with Michael Bush” is planned for Oct. 7 and Bush will take visitors through the seasons of beekeeping as experienced in his apiary.

The “Michael Bush Full Day Seminar” on Oct. 8 features a discussion of numerous topics from races of bees to queen rearing, from swarm prevention and splits to lazy beekeeping and more. There will be time for questions and answers as well as a book signing and author meet and greet after the presentation. A limited number of Bush’s books will be available for purchase.

“In the Field with Michael Bush” is an outdoor adventure on Oct. 9 and due to the nature of the activity in the bee yard, a limited number of tickets is available.

There is a variety of admission options for the various segments of the seminar with prices ranging from $15 to $80, depending upon the session and amenities chosen. Meals are available for some events. Visit and click on “October 7-9: Southern Illinois Treatment-Free Beekeeping Seminar Series” for complete details or to purchase tickets. Those who wish to stay on-site during the weekend should call 618/453-1121 to arrange accommodations.

More information about the seminar is also available from Steve Gariepy at

The Fall Traditions Respite Camp provides people ages 18 and older who have physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities with the same type of authentic camp experience that Camp Little Giant gives participants each summer.

The Fall Traditions Respite Camp is Oct. 21-23 at Touch of Nature. The weekend will feature arts and crafts, beachfront activities, boating, dancing, a hayride, a campfire, sports and games and other fun.

The registration fee is $190 and registration is required no later than Oct. 14.

For additional information, contact Vicki Lang-Mendenhall, program coordinator, at

To learn more about any of the programs or facilities at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, visit, call 618/453-1121 or email