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.

We would love to hear your input on how we can improve our program offerings for you. Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. Your responses will help us plan and schedule programs that work best for you and your family.

Ongoing Events

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.

Register Here

The evil Denaturizer has struck at The Nature Institute. He has placed poison bombs across the preserve, which can only be accessed by solving an ensemble of crafty puzzles. If allowed to explode, these bombs will wipe out all living things in the Mississippi River from here to the Gulf of Mexico! Can you solve the clues and stop the explosions before it’s too late? 

This Outdoor Escape Room is suitable for ages 16 and up and takes place entirely outdoors. This program runs for up to 4 hours and may only be booked for one group at a time. Group size must be 4 – 8 people. $30/person for members, $35/person for non-members. Pre-registration is required.

Learn more and register here.

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.

Register Here

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.

Register Here

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.

Learn more here.

Rotating Programs

Join Jess Thenhaus, a certified Forest & Nature Therapy Guide, for a unique outdoor experience at The Nature Institute. Forest Bathing is a practice that supports health and wellness through guided immersion in forests and other environments to promote the well-being of both people and the land. Unplug and unwind as you connect with nature and the ‘more than human world’ in this immersive sensory experience. Experience the healing and wellness- promoting effects of Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing), the practice of bathing in the senses in the atmosphere of the forest.

This is not a strenuous hike in the woods, but rather a gentle, leisurely walk designed to allow time and stress to melt away as you sink comfortably into the peace of presence that nature can provide.

Learn more and register here.

Transformers, those robots in disguise,  turn 40 this year, so cozy up with a blanket for a movie on the lawn and celebrate these films featuring robots! This free event takes place monthly from April through October. Watch a classic movie on our giant inflatable screen. Bring your own seating (lawn chairs or blankets), as well as your own snacks. No alcohol is permitted.

View our upcoming films here!

The Macoupin Art Collective’s ArtBus will be making a special visit to The Nature Institute this summer. This mobile art studio provides free art activities to local communities. The ArtBus will be parked at TNI between 10 am and 12 pm on Saturday, June 15th. Feel free to arrive any time between those hours to create a nature themed art project. No registration is required. This activity is FREE for all visitors. Learn more about the ArtBus at

Learn how to identify trees by their bark, leaves, and branching. This beginner level class will hike roughly 1 mile in total. Recommended for teens and adults. Friday, August 23rd, 5:30 – 6:30 pm.

Program Fees: FREE for members, $10/non-members.

Program Date: Friday, August 23rd, 5:30 – 6:30 pm

Register Here.

One of the best ways to learn about the natural world is through your own quiet observations. Join The Nature Institute for a series of Nature Journaling walks that will help you to slow down and see what is right in front of you. All ages are welcome.

Program Fees: FREE for Members, $5/non-member.

Optional Fees: If you would like to purchase a basic nature journaling kit, there is an additional $12 fee (one time purchase). The Nature Journal Kit includes a spiral bound blank notebook, watercolor paints with brush, fine line black pen, magnifying glass, pencil pouch, colored pencils, drawstring bag, and a small container for water.

Register Here.

Assist scientists by providing them with monarch migration data! Join our education staff in catching and tagging monarch butterflies this fall. All ages welcome.

Program Fees: FREE for members, $10/non-members.

Program Date: Tuesday, September 10th, 5:30 pm at Heartland Prairie.

Register Here.