March 12, 2021

SIU’s Touch of Nature to host two Leave No Trace Master Educator courses

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center is hosting two Leave No Trace Master Educator courses this spring. The courses will offer online or on-site training followed by hands-on scenic learning expeditions.

Both courses focus on providing participants with teaching skills and framework within Leave No Trace principles for assuring minimal impact when visiting the outdoors.

April session will visit scenic Missouri river

The first session, April 11-14, begins with a one-day online prerequisite course before moving to the Eleven Point National Scenic River in Missouri. The class will start with an introduction to the seven principles of Leave No Trace, a history of the program and preparation for backcountry travel.

Participants will then put into practice what they’ve learned during a 28-mile paddling trip on the Eleven Point National Scenic River in southeastern Missouri. The moderate-skills trip includes some Class I and Class II rapids so it will be helpful if participants have some prior paddling and backcountry experience. There will be time for exploration and discussion of outdoor ethics, front-country issues and backcountry Leave No Trace principles.

May session will be in Southern Illinois

The second Master Educator course will take place May 17-21 at various locations in Southern Illinois. The five-day training will include time in backcountry laboratory sites at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, the Shawnee National Forest, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Little Grassy Lake and Devil’s Kitchen Lake. The “Mad Dog Flatwater Expedition” will give participants experience in paddling, hiking, portaging and camping in natural flatwater areas as they learn, practice and prepare to teach Leave No Trace skills. Participants must be comfortable in the outdoors and be familiar with their gear.

Sign up now

Touch of Nature’s outdoor learning laboratory will incorporate enhanced social safety measures, including social distancing measures to ensure the health and safety of participants. Those enrolled in either of the two courses will be able to bring their own food to cook and may enjoy tent camping.

The cost of the Eleven Point class in April is $550 and the Mad Dog course in May is $525.

Online registration is underway for both classes. Additional course information and equipment lists are at

For more details, contact Erik Oberg at 618-453-3945 or