Very beautiful land and even more beautiful staff! They love what they do and I’m so glad they are willing to share their knowledge and time with the young children in the Alton area!

– Ty Koniak

‘A Place of Peace and Learning’

We are so fortunate to have The Nature Institute here. TNI is where I go on a regular basis to renew my spirit. It has a special spirit of its own, which it generously shares with us. I love being alone there to soak up the peace, joy, and strength that is so present. I have also been happy to see so many others enjoying the beauty of TNI.

I like to hike the trails as quietly as possible, so I am more able to listen to nature’s symphony. I practice hearing and seeing in a different way.

TNI has deepened my sense of reverence for our beautiful Earth, allowing me to learn something new every time I go there.

– Maurine Sampson

‘John M. Olin Nature Preserve Complex: A Window to Biodiversity’

The Nature Institute owns more than 400 acres of prime real estate on the bluffs — prime, that is, for the 1000+ plant and animal species that call this land home. The John M. Olin and Mississippi Sanctuary Nature Preserves Complex is valuable not from a pure aesthetic viewpoint (although that is also an asset!), but because of the diversity of habitats and the size of the contiguous natural landscape. Hill prairies, mesic streamside forests, dry upland forests, rocky cliffs and floodplain forests, situated adjacent to a major U.S. river, all combine to create functional housing for trees, birds, snakes, butterflies, bobcats, leaf-hoppers, frogs and much more.

Illinois’ natural lands are highly fragmented; many wildlife need large tracts of contiguous habitat to successful reproduce and survive. TNI’s preserves provide just that! The state has only about 500 acres of high-quality hill prairie left; some survives at John M. Olin; old growth forest is also rare in Illinois. TNI preserves contain forests that haven’t been logged for decades, and where the forest is functioning largely as it should.   And all of this is protected in perpetuity as Illinois Nature Preserves.

The best part is that TNI, while managing for rare natural resources also provides opportunities for anyone interested to come hike, view, and delight in all of this natural beauty. And they work hard to empower the next generation of nature caretakers with well-planned camps and educational programs. Come check it out! Bring a hand lens along and peer at grasshopper up close; or bring binoculars for a front-row look of a soaring eagle.   Or just come and take in the views, hug an oak tree, delight in the blooming bellflowers. Come and enjoy all this place has to offer!!!

– Debbie Scott Newman