The Friends of the Shawnee National Forest is a not-for-profit organization that supports and promotes land stewardship, responsible recreation, economic sustainability, and connecting people and communities to nature, especially kids!

Fountain Bluff - Gretchen Steele

Fountain Bluff – Gretchen Steele

Check us out on Facebook!                   AmeriCorps VISTA                Shawnee Friends Twitter Page



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Memberships for 2015

We have updated our membership brochures with new benefits and information about what we’ve been able to do on the forest thanks to the generous support of our members and sponsors. New for 2015 are features that benefit business owners. Not only are you supporting stewardship and recreation in the Shawnee National Forest but you’re letting the southern Illinois consumer base know that you support the forest and love the outdoors! Plus, it’s a very affordable way to advertise! The Friends does not receive money from the government and relies on membership dollars and the sale of our merchandise, apparel, and maps to support ecological education, stewardship, and volunteer efforts on the forest. Your dollars are directly supporting these opportunities in the community and having a positive impact on local children. Please share in our love of the Shawnee National Forest and become a member today.

Click on the membership brochure below to enlarge to read more. If you wish to support the Friends, simply print this brochure and mail it in. We thank you!

Brochure 2015-2Brochure 2015-1



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Eating for a Good Cause! Friends of the Shawnee National Forest Fundraiser

Join us for lunch or dinner to help support Friends of the Shawnee National Forest. We will have membership information, hiker and equestrian trail maps available for sale, and we will be unveiling our BRAND NEW line of Shawnee National Forest apparel for the FIRST TIME at the fundraiser. All you have to do is show up and eat to support outdoor recreation, ecological education, volunteerism, and projects on the forest!

 S&B Fundraiser 2015

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A Message From Our Treasurer: 501 (C) (3) Approved!!

Dear Entrepreneurs, Member, and Friends,

We are celebrating a new chapter with Friends of the Shawnee National Forest as a federally-designated 501 (C) (3)! Kudos to Susi for taking on the HUGE application process with volumes of paperwork and to Jennifer for following up with phone calls to IRS, missing information and addendums. Kudos to all of the VISTAs and Forest Service (Including the Shawnee, Region 9 and Integrated Resources Enterprise Team), early and existing board members, Chairs and our first Executive Director, Russ Ward.

In 2009 the concept of the organization was a dream as a result of engagement in the Forest Service national effort in Community Engagement for Recreation and Tourism (CERT). In 2010 Friends of the Shawnee National Forest was formed and an application submitted and accepted by Illinois as a state not-for-profit organization. Also in that year a partnership was formed between the Shawnee National Forest (funded) and University of Illinois Extension (hosted) for the first of many amazing VISTA Volunteers from the Corporation for National and Community Service through their National Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA) program providing environmental ed programs, establishing organizational processes and selling merchandise and memberships, representing Forest Service career and recreation opportunities at multiple events, etc. etc. In 2011 the first of 2 agreements between Friends and the Shawnee National Forest were signed with funding from the Shawnee National Forest and Region 9 to lead/facilitate CERT throughout the southern Illinois and much more. In 2013 the application for 501 (c) 3 was submitted. In 2014 the strategy meeting was held, launching a coordinated and dedicated effort to hire our first (paid) Executive Director, which led to hiring Jennifer to help lead the organization, find and submit the missing pieces of the application and ….. drum roll…… the attached acceptance letter by the Federal IRS to designate Friends of the Shawnee as a not-for-profit organization under 501 (C) (3)!! What a celebration!

We recognize the work and dedication that led to the formation of the organization and to the 501 (C) (3) designation and offer a round of applause for every person and every effort. It has made a difference! Hundreds of kids and adults have been touched by the programs offered or leveraged by FoSNF, thousands of dollars have been generated and circulated in the local southern Illinois economy, SNF stewardship and programs have been supported and leveraged. Thousands of volunteer hours, thousands of miles, and thousands of dollars in personal expenses have been invested into this organization to deliver what we all believe in: to provide public land stewardship, conservation education, responsible recreation and to contribute to the local economy in significant ways.

As one of the initiators of the organization, former forest service employee and now board member, I send my gratitude to each and every one of you for this journey and to see this milestone achieved.


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Pine Hills Appreciation Day

Spring is here! (so where are the snakes?)

The USFS in the Shawnee National Forest will be hosting the LaRue Pine Hills Appreciation Day on April 12, 2014.

Activities will begin with registration at 9:30 a the Winter’s Pond followed by:

10 am Reptile and Amphibian Talk with Scott Ballard of the IDNR and a walk along LaRue Road or “Snake Road” for and informational talk about species, habits and migration education.

10 am Native Plants and Natural History of LaRue Pine Hills with Karla Gage of the River to River Co-op Weed Management and Andy West with a hike on Inspiration Point Trail for information on ecology and invasive species.

Please come prepared with weather appropriate clothing, hiking shoes, water and a sack lunch!

For more information on this program, which is free and open to the public, please contact the USFS Shawnee National Forest at (618) 253-7114 or http://fs.usda.gov/shawnee

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50th Wilderness Act Anniversary

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act throughout 2014!

In celebration, the wilderness areas in southern Illinois are being showcased throughout the year with numerous activities and educational programs.  We want to bring these opportunities to you!

Some contributing  organizations and activities include:

Take time to experience these unique locations and the history securing such sites.  Learn more at these activities and bring a friend!


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Strategic Vision 2014

In January of 2014, the Friends found empowerment and collaboration through the endeavor of the organization’s first Strategic Vision retreat.  Stakeholders and partners met for a discussion of progress, intent and goal development resulting in clearly defined pathways for opportunities in volunteerism, improved communications, direction and building collaborations.

Led by Dr. Richard Collins, the participants in the process identified achievements and possibilities as well as team building opportunities.  The SWOT analysis created a framework for our organizational goals, and as a result, the committees, champions and accountability for achieving those goals.

Thank you all who participated including:  United States Forest Service, University of Illinois Extension Offices, Friends of the Shawnee National Forest, Friends of the Shawnee National Forest Board of Directors, Brehm Preparatory School, AmeriCorps VISTA, Touch of Nature Environmental Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale Recreation Center, Arnie’s Sandwiches, and Dr. Richard Collins.

Strategic Vision 2014 (4) Strategic Vision 2014 (2)

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Fun in the Sun at Pounds Hollow

The Friends and the Shawnee USFS AmeriCorps VISTAs teamed up to sponsor an afternoon of recreation and education to local students in September.

Pounds Hollow Recreation area provided land and water locations for activities such as swimming, fishing, water quality testing, a scavenger hunt, fishing, hiking and arts/crafts.  The students enjoyed an outdoor lunch provided by school staff, and sunshine provided by the beautiful Southern Illinois weather.

We thank the students and staff who participated in the event from Brehm Preparatory School in Carbondale, Illinois.  We also would like to thank the VISTAs: Paige, Danielle, Kim, Jon, Laura and Susi.

Thank you Shawnee National Forest for all of the beautiful and useful sites and amenities!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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