August 30, 2017

Touch of Nature seeks volunteers for trail work

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center is hosting two special events that will give the public an opportunity to help maintain and expand the miles of trails located at the outdoor, experiential education and recreation facility.

In recent years, Mother Nature has overtaken many of the trails, but the programs will help reclaim and even enlarge the trail system to accommodate the many patrons and offerings of the 3,100-acre center, which is along the shore of Little Grassy Lake.

Trail Stewardship Days is an ongoing program this semester that invites volunteers to come to Touch of Nature, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road, to help with the trails. Work shifts are planned on several Sundays and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

The schedule for the free Trail Stewardship Days includes:

  • Sept. 24
  • Oct. 1, 15, 22 and 29
  • Nov. 5, 13 and 19.

Volunteers can register for one or both sessions on any or all days. No experience is necessary. The staff from Touch of Nature will coordinate the project and provide tools as well as help and instruction to assure their safe use. All helpers are welcome but those planning to attend are asked to pre-register at least 48 hours before the session you plan to attend. Sign up online at or by calling 618/453-1121.

If you would like to help but Sunday work sessions don’t fit your schedule, call and the staff will schedule a trail work session at another time.

In addition, Touch of Nature and the American Hiking Society are partnering for the second “Volunteer Vacation” Oct. 15-21. Participants will stay in the camp’s rustic cabins for a week as they work together to clear paths and create trails.

Volunteers ages 15 and older are welcome at this event, designed to foster public land stewardship and appreciation, provide camaraderie and benefit Touch of Nature and all who use its facilities. Equipment, lodging, meals, leaders and directions are provided. The cost ranges from $195 to $330.

For more information about the American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation, or to sign up, visit