September 25, 2017

Tickets available for Touch of Nature’s ‘buffalo tro’

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – It will be a step back in time, a unique dining experience and a benefit all wrapped in one as the “buffalo tro” returns to Southern Illinois University’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center on Oct. 20.

The annual event, sponsored by the Friends of Touch of Nature, traces its roots to a Native American plains tradition where buffalo was relied on for sustenance, clothing and more. During a tro, bison meat cooked directly on hot buffalo chips, searing in the juices and flavor. The longtime SIU tradition dates back more than half a century.

At SIU, the meal preparations are modified as marinated beef steaks are cooked on very hot stacked hardwood, then “klinked” to remove the coals and served along with a dinner salad, baked potato, hot bread and dessert. There will also be vegetarian and special diet meal options available.

The evening begins with a 5 p.m. reception featuring light appetizers served with local wines and beer. Bidding on the wide variety of silent auction items is from 5 to 7 p.m. and music by Kindred Moon begins at 5:30 p.m.  The meal is at 6:30 p.m. and the live auction follows an hour later.

The event is the major annual fundraiser for Touch of Nature Environmental Center and funds raised go toward enhancement of services and facilities at the center, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. Tickets are $60 per person or $400 for a table of eight when purchased by Monday, Oct. 2, or $70 per person and $480 for an eight-person table after that day. Seating is limited. To make reservations, visit

Sponsorship opportunities are available at levels ranging from $500 to $5,000. In addition, donations of items for the silent and live auctions are also welcomed from individuals and businesses. For more information about making a contribution, contact Paula Feigenbaum at 618/453-1121 or

Touch of Nature Environmental Center opened in 1951 on a 150-acre site along Little Grassy Lake and has since expanded to encompass numerous facilities within 3,100 acres bordered by Giant City State Park, the Shawnee National Forest, the River to River Trail and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. The center is home to Camp Little Giant, the nation’s first university-affiliated residential camp for people with disabilities. It also boasts numerous other programs, activities and services including adventure and environmental education, therapeutic recreation and conference services. In conjunction with SIU’s Veterans Services, Touch of Nature also offers Veteran Adventures. Populations of all ages utilize the facilities for retreats, camps, conferences and a wide variety of activities including hiking, zip lining and the high ropes course.

Additional details about the tro and the Touch of Nature Environmental Center are available at