President Delyte Morris had a passion for the outdoors and believed that students could benefit from an outdoor laboratory where they can study forestry, botany, agriculture and more. His idea started to become a reality in 1949 when the SIU Board of Trustees bought 150 acres along Little Grassy Lake and opened SIU’s Little Grassy Lake Campus (now called Touch of Nature Environmental Center). Since then, Touch of Nature has grown to over 3,100 acres of rolling hills and lush forests which provide the perfect atmosphere for outdoor education and adventure.
The mission is to enhance learning, promote professional development, encourage personal and interpersonal development, and increase environmental awareness. Adventure Education, Therapeutic Recreation, Environmental Education and Veteran Adventures are a few of the programs hosted by Touch of Nature.
Your contribution is an investment in our students’ success. We are thankful for your generosity. Please see our funding priorities below and click Give Now at the top of the page to make your gift.
Camp Little Giant: Camp Little Giant has served campers with disabilities since 1952. It was the first University affiliated camp for individuals with disabilities in the nation, the first camp accredited by the American Camp Association, and ultimately paved the way for the Special Olympics. Camp Little Giant provides opportunities for youth and adults to experience the outdoors in a camp setting. We serve individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, musculoskeletal impairments, neurological impairments, neuromuscular impairments, and sensory disorders. Donations to the Therapeutic Recreation Fund support all things Recreation Therapy that take place at Touch of Nature’s Camp Little Giant.
Freeberg Legacy Fund: The Freeberg Legacy Fund supports Dr. Bill Freeberg’s vision to provide outdoor education and recreation opportunities for people of all abilities. Funds raised support all camps and programs at Touch of Nature. This specific project will support the purchase of an Alpine Tower that will be used to facilitate leadership development and communication programs, encourage personal and interpersonal development, and provide adaptive opportunities for Camp Little Giant. For more information click the photo below:
Mountain Bike Trails: Funds raised to create a new Mountain Bike Park and Trail System at Touch of Nature. The multi-use mountain bike trail system will provide new recreational opportunities for SIU students, locals and visitors to explore southern Illinois’ unique landscape. The project will also provide students with hands-on recreational resource management learning opportunities not many other universities can match. It will also provide a creative way to tie the Carbondale environment to the Shawnee National Forest.
Veteran Adventure Fund: The Veteran Adventure Fund supports the Veteran Adventure (VA) Programs. The VA Program provides community building for veterans, current military personnel, and their families. The program presents challenging and adventurous opportunities to strengthen bonds between veterans, active duty military personnel, and their families, shows support and gratitude for the sacrifice that our servicemen and women have made, provides veterans and current military personnel with alternatives for mental health assistance without the stigma of traditional mental health avenues, and fosters a healthier veteran population.