Friends of Touch of Nature Board

Main Content

What We Do

The Friends of Touch of Nature is a not-for-profit, unincorporated organization comprised of persons committed to the improvement, development, and enrichment of Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center. The goals and objectives of the Friends organization is to:

  • Increase the public knowledge of Touch of Nature.
  • Conduct fundraising efforts and seek contributions of equipment and supplies within the Southern Illinois University's guidelines for fundraising.
  • Foster support for Touch of Nature.
  • Support the programming services offered at Touch of Nature.

Who We Are

Lyle WhiteLyle White

Lyle has been an outdoor recreation enthusiast most of his life. He retired in 2016 after 27 years with SIUC as a Counselor Education faculty member. In his final year, Lyle served as Interim Dean for the College of Education and Human Services. In 2018, Lyle completed the training to be an Illinois Master Naturalist. Lyle joined the Friends Board in 2017 and was elected President in 2018.

Matt CareyMatt Carey

Matt is originally from Missouri where he developed his enthusiasm for outdoor activities in the Ozarks.  He particularly enjoys mountain biking, hiking, fishing and kayaking.  Matt is a special education teacher in our region and has been serving students with special needs for over twenty years.  Prior to joining the Board of Directors in 2021, he has been an active member and volunteer at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center, dedicating most of his volunteer time to the planning, construction, and maintenance of the trail system.  In addition to serving the public through dedicating time at Touch of Nature, he enjoys volunteering with the Shawnee Mountain Bike Association and the U.S. Forest Service to enhance trail accessibility and promote cycling in our region.

 Joe LenziniJoe Lenzini  

Joe has recently retired and is a registered Professional Civil Engineer in Illinois. Joe was born and raised in Carbondale along with five brothers and sisters who received numerous degrees from SIU. Joe earned his degrees in Forestry and Engineering. His affinity for TON began in 1965, when he attended a one-day Outdoor Labs camp at the Progress site. While in high school he learned rock climbing and rappelling at Touch of Nature from Hank Schafermeyer. As an engineer, Joe has worked with the Illinois Department of Transportation, Anna Quarries, and E.T. Simonds Construction Company where he has worked on a variety of projects including the Green Earth Chautauqua Bottoms Trail and the Touch of Nature Mountain Bike Trail. Joe continues to serve on the SIU Civil Engineering Department's Professional Advisory.

Linda Crandle Brandon   

Linda was a junior camp counselor at Camp Little Giant from 1955-57 at Camp I, and taught archery and canoeing at Camp Little Giant. Ann Freeberg was one of her campers in her tent (at her father's request). She attended Indiana University on Dr. Freeberg's advice and majored in Recreation and Outdoor Education. When the Touch of Nature Friends Board was formed, she became part of the group, again, at Dr. Freeberg's request.

Jane SwansonJane Swanson  

Jane grew up in Minnesota, where she learned to love canoeing, camping, and other outdoor activities.  She retired from SIU in 2015 after 29 years as a psychology professor and administrator.  She is a Master Naturalist and enjoys using her training to work with children and adults in learning about the natural environment.  Jane joined the Friends Board in 2021 and serves as its Vice President.



Dennis PoshardDennis Poshard 

Dennis was born and raised in Southern Illinois and attended various programs and events at Touch of Nature as a kid growing up in the region. He enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, paddle sports, and trail running. He credits his love of the outdoors to his 11 years living in Alaska from 1992-2003. He is currently the owner of Arthur Agency, a local advertising and marketing firm located in Carbondale, that was founded in 2003. He is also currently serving the Carbondale community as the Carbondale Township Supervisor. Dennis joined the board in 2022.