Adult and Family Programs

Check out the lists below to see our upcoming adult and family programs. Click on the name of the program to see more details and register.

Ongoing Events

Moonlight Hikes – Join us on a night hike through the woods. On the trails of the Mississippi Sanctuary and Olin Nature Preserve the terrain is light to moderate (may include some elevation change) and is appropriate for families. You can expect the hike to be about 2 miles, and will include stops along the way. Guides choose routes based on the group and do not pick the route until the night of the hike. $5 per non-member adult, children 15 and under are free and advanced registration is required. Members are free.


Telescope Nights – Have an old telescope laying around, but never use it? Always wanted to look at the universe through a telescope, but don’t own one? You are in luck! Come on out to the Talahi Lodge on the scheduled dates and we will have some set up. You can also bring your own and we can help you use it. We will talk about how telescopes work and look at the moon and other night sky objects. Limited Space available, registration required. Free for members, $5 for non-members.


Heartland Prairie Hike – Join us at Heartland Prairie at Gordon Moore Park in Alton for these bimonthly hikes, held on every second and fourth Tuesday, April through October. These walks are free and open to the public. Walks will focus on identifying native plants and birds. We will discuss the plants in our newer sections at the observation deck until approximately 6:00 p.m. so if you are running late, you can still meet us in the front section of the prairie. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring water, binoculars and a plant identification book. FREE.


Yoga + Hike – The Nature Institute is partnering with Brick City Yoga to bring you a relaxing morning out in nature. Join us for a 60 minute hike before connecting more in a 60 minute outdoor yoga practice with a view of the Mississippi River. Then, stick around for a coffee from local shop Germania Brew Haus. Mark your calendar and grab your hiking boots, along with your mat, for a nature-centric Saturday morning outing! $25/members, $30/non-members. Pre-registration is required.


Sunset and S’mores – Join us for a relaxing evening by the fire at The Nature Institute. We’ll take a leisurely twilight hike, followed by s’mores over the fire. This is a family friendly event with a maximum of 20 participants. Program start time varies by month. $5/person non-members, free for members. Pre-registration is required.

Rotating Programs

Pre-registration required for the events below. Click on the title of the event to go to the registration page.

In Harmony with Nature – Join The Nature Institute and the Alton High School Symphonic Orchestra for our revived In Harmony with Nature concert, to be held on the beautiful Mississippi Bluffs on September 16, 2022. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with a chance to grab dinner from T & S Smokehouse Food Truck and set up your chairs at the Skeet Range. The orchestra performs at 6 p.m. This concert will serve as a fundraising event for The Nature Institute. Tickets: $10 each, children 12 and under are free. Sweet treats will be available for purchase from Shivers Frozen Custard.

Pokémon GO for a Hike – Calling all Pokémon GO fans! Did you know that TNI has 4 Pokémon gyms and multiple PokéStops? Head out on the trails to catch ‘em all with TNI’s education staff! Enjoy a leisurely 1.5 – 2 mile group hike with stops along the way to catch Pokémon, battle at gyms, and collect items. Use of a cell phone with the Pokémon GO app is required. Free for members and $3/non-member. Pre-registration is required.

Enchanted ForestJoin The Nature Institute for a magical evening of Halloween fun! Enchanted Forest will take place on October 21st from 6 – 9 pm. This family-friendly event will include a self-guided hike, face painting, timed star shows in our pop-up dome, yard games, a cozy fire, and educational activities. Children will receive a passport to be stamped by all of the nocturnal animal characters that they meet along the trail. Every child will receive a bag of goodies in exchange for their completed passport! $5/person, children 2 years and under are free. Walk up registration only.

Winter Tree ID – Learn to ID trees from their bark, buds, and branching! This public program takes place on Saturday, Jan. 21st at 1 pm and is led by a naturalist. $5/non-member, FREE for members. Program runs between 1 – 1.5 hours. See our private guided hikes to schedule your own private Winter Tree ID program. Pre-registration is required.


Family Friendly Owl Prowl – Head to TNI after dark to discover whoooo lives in the woods! Meet Treehouse Wildlife Center’s ambassador owls, dissect owl pellets, and then take a night hike to search for owls. $15 a person for non-members, $10 a person for members. Ages 6 and up recommended due to time sitting for animal presentation. Most of the program takes place indoors. February 18th, 6 – 8 pm. Pre-registration is required.


Valentine’s Day Owl Prowl Looking for something new this Valentine’s Day? The sparks will fly as you learn about owl breeding habits, meet Treehouse Wildlife Center’s ambassador owls, and head out to the trails to search for these nocturnal predators in the wild. This age 21+ event takes place on February 14th from 6 – 8 pm and includes wine for 2, chocolate, and a charcuterie board. $40 per couple/non-members, $36 per couple/members. Must be ages 21 and up. Pre-registration is required.


Family Discovery Days: Bring out the entire family for a morning in nature! Family Discovery Days take place every other month on a Saturday from 10 – 12. Activities are appropriate for ages 4 and up unless otherwise specified. Parents/guardians are required to attend with children. $7/person for non-members, $5/person members. Pre-registration is required.