The Shawnee National Forest is located in the southern part of Illinois.
Where is this Forest?


Learning Center

Throughout the year, the Shawnee National Forest works to educate the public on our natural resources and their management. Through a variety of programs the Forest’s goal is to connect people with their natural surroundings in order to build a sense of stewardship for the land.   

Educational topics include non-native invasive species, wilderness, trails, forestry, protection of heritage resources, wetland restoration, aquatic ecosystems, wildlife, outdoor safety and the mission of the Forest Service.  National education programs are also promoted such as Smokey Bear and Wildfire Prevention, Woodsy Owl and Land Stewardship and the Leave No Trace curriculum in classroom visits, school field trips, and public interpretive programs throughout the year at fairs, recreation sites and other large events.  For more information or to request a program, contact Sue Hirsch or Linda Hauser.

Getting into the great outdoors and enjoying your national forest is a lot of fun.  Before venturing outdoors be sure to visit the Outdoor Safety & Ethics Page for tips on how to prepare for a safety and enjoyable visit.

Just For Kids

Smokey Bear

Discover the Forest


Bat Conservation

The importance of Pollinators

Youth in the Great Outdoors - Get Out, Get Smart, Get a Job !


2015 Programs and Events

Fall Calendar of Events

Events Offered by our Partners

Nature Fest

Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge

Illinois State Parks

Rend Lake (Corps. of Engineers)

Cache River Wetland Visitor Center


Parents & Teachers

If you are a formal/non-formal educator, student, volunteer, or parent interested in gaining environmental education tips and tools, check out the programs, workshops and resources below.

School Programs - There are a variety of topics that we offer surrounding natural and cultural resources; everything from wildlife, forestry and habitats to cultural heritage, wilderness and careers with the Forest Service. Please contact one of the coordinators listed below at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to when you'd like to schedule a school program.

Smokey Bear or Woodsy Owl Program - These beloved characters are a great way to bring across the message of outdoor safety, wildfire prevention and environmental ethics. To arrange a Smokey Bear or Woodsy Owl program please contact the Shawnee National Forest or call 618-253-7114 (Headquarters office); 618-658-2111 (Hidden Springs Ranger District); or 618-833-8576 (Mississippi Bluffs Ranger District).

Fieldtrips to Shawnee National Forest- Enhance your groups visit to the Shawnee National Forest with a guided fieldtrip. Please contact one of the coordinators listed below at least 6 weeks ahead of your trip to discuss potential dates and locations that are suitable for group visits. (Guided fieldtrips are contigent upon availability of personnel).

Service Learning-  Learn something new and gain skills through a service-learning experience with your local national forest.  Contact the Shawnee Volunteer Corps coordinator for more information about service-learning opportunitites with the Shawnee National Forest.

Educational Workshops - The Shawnee National Forest offers several workshops throughout the year for both formal and non-formal educators, volunteers or general public.  For a current list of workshops being offered refer to the Programs & Events section above.

Educational Resource Trunks available for Loan. 


EduBat Graphic

*NEW* Project EduBat - This trunk includes curricula that meet national educational requirements for students in elementary grades through high school.   It includes bat skeletons and skulls, books, videos, brochures and materials to create a bat mural and other fun craft activities.  A Project Edubat trunk is available at the Mississippi Bluffs Ranger District office located at 521 N Main Street, Jonesboro, Illinois.  Contact Linda Hauser at 618-833-8576, Extension 104 or for more information or to reserve a trunk.  The trunk is free and can be checked out for 2 weeks.

Naturalist in the Classroom- or NITC is a combination of classroom programs followed by a fieldtrip to the Shawnee National Forest; all guided by natural resource professionals.  NITC will be offered to 3rd , 4th , and 5th grade students in the fall of 2016, and teachers have the choice of choosing between a few specified program themes (for instance, Forest Ecology and Wetland Ecology).  To learn more about NITC and how it can enhance your classroom curriculum contact one of the program coordinators listed below.

Conservation Education Contacts:

Linda Hauser (618) 833-8576


Sue Hirsch (618) 253-1005


Other Resources

Educational Trunks

Forest Service National Conservation Education website

Southern IL. Environmental Education Contacts & Resource List

Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources Education website

Non-Native Invasive Species  OR  Invasive Species

National Environmental Education Foundation

Climate Change Live

Wildflowers Teacher Resources website


Woodsy Owl