About Us

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a lake

Our Mission

The mission of Touch of Nature Environmental Center is to enhance learning, promote professional development, encourage personal and interpersonal development, and increase environmental awareness.

Our History

It has been over half a century since SIU President Delyte Morris went to a national conference in Washington, D.C. with an idea.  President Morris had a passion for the outdoors, and believed that students could benefit from an outdoor laboratory where they could study things like forestry, botany, agriculture and more. In 1949 that idea started to become reality when the SIU Board of Trustees bought 150 acres along Little Grassy Lake and opened SIU’s Little Grassy Lake Campus (now Touch of Nature Environmental Center). 

Since 1949, Touch of Nature Environmental Center has grown to over 3,100 acres of rolling hills and lush forests which provide the perfect atmosphere for outdoor education and adventure for both young and old alike.  Over the years, Touch of Nature has paved the way for therapeutic recreation programs such as Camp Little Giant - and even the Special Olympics - becoming one of the first camps for people with disabilities in the nation.  It has taken people to new heights with the Adventure Education program, becoming the first adventure program outside of Outward Bound. Adventure Education and Environmental Education continue to teach people of all ages and backgrounds the importance of environmental education through experiential learning and exploration. 

Our ongoing plan is to continue President Morris’ dream, and educate others through experiencing the outdoors.  Because, as William Shakespeare said, “One Touch of Nature makes the whole world kin!”