September 09, 2020

Registration is open for Touch of Nature’s ‘Leave No Trace’ course

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A course at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center next month will prepare participants to promote responsible use of the outdoors.

Registration is underway for the Leave No Trace Master Educator course Oct. 20-24. The program will comply with current Illinois COVID-19 safety measures.

Comprehensive experience

The course will be at Touch of Nature’s 3,100-acre facility, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. The program provides a comprehensive overview of Leave No Trace techniques with practical applications.

The program will include a classroom introduction to the seven principles of Leave No Trace before the group moves outdoors to the Rocky Ledges campsite, located on the shores of Little Grassy Lake. Participants will live, eat, camp and sleep outdoors – while travelling to a different location each day before returning to camp – and practice what they are learning.

On the final day, class members will each present a 15- to 20-minute lesson, either skills or theory-based, on one of Leave No Trace’s seven principles, and how it relates to a specific activity.

Everyone is welcome

The course is particularly popular with educators, naturalists, park rangers, recreation planners, scout leaders and anyone who works with the outdoor industry or who would like to. Anyone who wants to improve their Leave No Trace instructional skills while also experiencing the region’s beauty is welcome to participate.

Each participant completing the course will receive a certificate and will be qualified to teach Leave No Trace trainer courses, along with awareness workshops.

Safety practiced

Touch of Nature offers enhanced social distancing measures, including open spaces for classroom instruction and outdoor venues. Group sizes will be limited in compliance with Illinois guidelines. This means course participants should plan to bring their own food and cooking supplies, along with a one-person tent to sleep in. Participants will receive a complete equipment list prior to the beginning of the class. Group gear including fuel, ground tarps, a first-aid kit and water filter will be provided.

Equipment will be available for rental. Tents, sleeping bags and pads, internal frame backpacks and stores are available for $20. A pot and pan set with cooking utensils rents for $5.

Sign up now

Registration for the October session is on a first-come, first-served basis at The cost is $495.

For more information, contact Erik Oberg at or 618/453-3945.