Board of Directors
The Nature Institute
Main Office at the Mississippi Sanctuary
Education Office at Talahi Lodge
The Nature Institute (TNI) is a non-profit land conservation and environmental education organization based in Godfrey, IL. Since its founding in 1980, The Nature Institute’s board and staff have worked to foster an awareness and appreciation of the natural world through preservation, restoration, and education. Each summer TNI hosts a premier camp for children pre-K - 6th grade, and welcomes more that 8,000 area students on field trips throughout the year. TNI also owns and manages over 450 acres of protected land, such as the Olin Nature Preserve, the Mississippi Sanctuary, the Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary, and the Heartland Prairie Project at Gordon Moore Park. These natural areas provide unique places for the public to experience the diversity of the Riverbend area with its hardwood forests, prairies and wetlands.
History of the Olin Nature Preserve
1969 - John M. Olin deeds 293 acres to the State of Illinois and is quoted as saying, "The property is ideally suited for development as a nature study area, and in my opinion should not be used as a playground."
1975 - The Illinois Department of Conservation conveys the Olin Tract to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a reverter stating that if the property is not maintained as a natural area, it will be returned to the state.
1980 - The Nature Institute is granted 501(c)3 status and begins volunteer stewardship and care of the Olin Tract and Talahi Lodge.
1982 - The Nature Institute hosts its first Discovery Day Camp at Talahi Lodge.
1984 - SIUE requests the reverter be removed from the contract so the University can sell the property. Bruce Quackenbush, a local attorney and founding member of The Nature Institute, begins negotiations to halt the sale of the property stating, "The State should not break faith with John Olin and allow the University to sell the property."
1990 - The Board of Directors of The Nature Institute begins work to have the Olin Tract dedicated as an official Illinois Nature Preserve.
1994 - Nearly 25 years after John Olin stated that his property should be permanently set aside as a natural area, his wish becomes reality with the passing of SB 458 which transferred ownership of the 293-acre tract to The Nature Institute.
1998 – The John M. Olin Nature Preserve becomes the 192nd dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve in the State of Illinois. The ONP becomes one of the largest privately owned nature preserves in the state.