SIU Foundation Media Services
CARBONDALE – The SIU Credit Union presented a $500,000 check to SIU’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center at an event Thursday morning in the office of SIU Chancellor Austin Lane.
“Touch of Nature is a pride and joy of SIU. We have our own oasis right there,” Chancellor Lane said. “This partnership with SIU Credit Union is magnificent. This gift will provide the credit union with great visibility among our students and the community.”
The funds will be used to build the SIU Credit Union Event Center at Touch of Nature, which is located at 1206 Touch of Nature Road in Makanda, just a few miles from campus.
“The opportunity to give back to our community and to help it grow was a proposition that couldn’t be passed up. The Touch of Nature Event Center will showcase more of the beauty and fun of Southern Illinois, and we liked being able to help make a project like this happen,” said Mike Lantrip, CEO of SIU Credit Union. “SIU is the economic engine of our region, and this facility can be instrumental in helping our tourism industry. Similar projects have been proven in other regions to be a quality-of-life enhancement and have a great impact on the local economy. We don’t see why this can’t have the same impact on our area.”
The SIU Credit Union has a long history of supporting the university, including major donations during the annual SIU Day of Giving. In recent years, the credit union has supported SIU’s New Student Programs, Saluki Food Pantry, and Touch of Nature.
“We have had a great partnership with SIU Credit Union over the years,” said JD Tanner, director of Touch of Nature Environmental Center. “This gift speaks volumes about how they value the quality of our environment and community.”
Touch of Nature is a full-service outdoor education center that serves SIU, the region, and the nation. It provides opportunities for team building, environmental education, zip lining, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, overnight camps, and more. Nationally recognized for its therapeutic recreation camp, Camp Little Giant, Touch of Nature has provided camps and programs for people with disabilities since 1952. Touch of Nature is an ACA-accredited facility, a National Environmental Education Landmark, and soon to be home to an IMBA -designed Mountain Bike Park.
“We have sponsored and helped with a number of camps, events and other programs at this unique facility, and this seemed like a perfect fit to continue and grow in that capacity,” Lantrip said. “Mountain biking is growing in popularity, and we thought helping establish a facility such as this would be an asset to all parties involved. In addition to being a family-friendly destination, it will also help with student, faculty, and executive recruitment, bolster an already-strong forestry program within SIU, and cultivate our growing tourism identity. These are all things that will help our region, our members, and our local businesses prosper.”