The Friends of the Shawnee National Forest is a not-for-profit organization that supports and promotes land stewardship, responsible recreation, economic sustainability, and connecting people and communities to nature, especially kids!

Tickets to our first fundraiser are going fast! Looks like the Ivas John Band and the Free Range Chicks are drawing their fans to our Fundraiser! Join the fun while the $35 tickets last. To purchase tickets, visit After Nov. 2nd, ticket prices go up to $40 each with a cut-off date of Nov. 8th.

Doors at The Old Feed Store open at 5:30 for a silent auction you won’t want to miss, then a buffet dinner, made by The Old Feed Store will be ready to enjoy. The Free Range Chicks will serenade your table with old time jazz favorites, then dancing to the Ivas John Band will carry us through the rest of the evening! It is a special occasion for a good cause.

Friends of the Shawnee is looking to fill a part-time Executive Director position. If you or someone you know might be interested, please send a resume and letter of interest to The deadline for applying is November 14th at midnight.

Any questions, please reach out to

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We are very proud of all the things we accomplished in a wonderful 2015! To read all about it and get more information see our 2015 Annual Report!

On October 1st Friends of the Shawnee partnered with the IDNR to host a Snake Road Hike with Herpetologist Scott Ballard. The Southern Illinoisan wrote an article about this great event! Check it out here.

Upcoming Events

  • November 12th – Friends of the Shawnee Fundraiser
  • shawneeflyerorder

Earth Day Trash Blast

On Saturday, April 23rd at 10am, nearly 25 adult and youth volunteers gathered at Cove Hollow trail head near Cedar Lake, put on gloves, hardhats, grabbed trash bags, and got to work. We had volunteers from our membership base, SIU’s Chancellor’s Scholars, SIU society of American Foresters, plus students, community members, representation from the Forest Service, and our own Board of Directors.

Joshua Keenan, Forestry Technician (Trails and Recreation) with Shawnee National Forest provided us with an inspirational presentation about Leave No Trace ethics.

The Southern Illinoisan stopped by to join in on the fun and go on a nature hike with Board Members Susan and Tom. They published a wonderful article here.

After all was said and done, the volunteers collected over 95 pounds of trash including a tire, fishing pole, diapers, and a lawn chair! No better way to spend an Earth Day than by cleaning up a beautiful trail right here in Shawnee National Forest.

Here are some of our favorite photos from the day, courtesy of photographer, Susan Logue and from the Southern Illinoisan.
We hope to see you all next year!!

Thank you to everyone who came to Quatro’s to support our organization on February 23rd! We appreciate all of your continued support. The event was a huge success!! We would not be here if it wasn’t for you!

October 2015

As we move into the fall

The Shawnee Friends have a busy and fun summer. Our quarterly newsletter will be coming out soon for our members and supporters but here’s a little clip of what great things we were involved with in the last couple of months and what’s to come

  • Did you get a chance to read our 2014 Annual Report that was published over the summer? It tells the full story (with lots of photos!) of a year’s worth of hard work.
  • We have partnered with the eScrips company which partners with local merchants in the community who want to give back. Right now if you register your credit card information with Schnucks whenever you use that card to pay for your groceries Schnucks will donate a small portion of your total to us. It does’t cost you anything and it’s completely secure. The website doesn’t ask for your expiration date or CCV number on your card, it only recognizes the account number. You can sign up here.
  • We have also partnered with Amazon Smile for the same fundraising purpose. As a non-profit organization every dollar counts! You can select us as your non-profit charitable organization by following this link.
  • We are also working on the same community contribution program with Kroger and will have more information soon.
  • On September 26th we had an incredibly successful cleanup event at Garden of the Gods in recognition of National Public Lands Day. Nearly 40 volunteers came together to pickup trash all around the observation trail and below it in the wilderness area. Dustin Duncan from the Southern Illinoisans also came out to cover the event and published this excellent article about our efforts.  Checkout some of the pictures below!
  • During the month of August and September we provided a couple afternoons of interpretive services at the Garden of the Gods trailhead. We engaged with hundreds of visitors to the wilderness area, telling them about other opportunities for recreation and tourism near Garden of the Gods, answered questions, sold our maps and apparel, and gained a few new members. It was just as fun for us as for the guests visiting the Shawnee National Forest. Meeting people from hundreds of miles away who drove all the way to southern Illinois just to see Camel Rock is quite exciting.
  • With the new 2016 Illinois quarter featuring Camel Rock we plan to be very active at Garden of the Gods and are planning on creating new apparel such as hoodies and bandannas to help promote the area.
  • We plan to host another trash cleanup day to kick off the spring season in 2016. We’re hoping for two sites occurring simultaneously.
  • If you’re not already receiving our emails, make sure you sign up

As always, thank you for your support and interest!We can’t do it without YOU!Photos below from our National Public Lands Day Cleanup Event. Special thanks to Greg Wendt for photographing the event. Checkout the full album for all the photos from that day of hard work AND fun!two girls Scouts with trash People in action Group Photoin betwee the rocks at the top 2 big foot and music
August 2015End of summer wrap-up

  • We’ve had a busy summer. During the first weekend of August members from our Board of Directors, Lucia, Shari, and Tom were at the P’urepecha festival in Cobden with the Forest Service as part of a cultural celebration that also embraces the migration of the monarch butterfly.
  • For the first time ever you can now purchase the Shawnee National Forest east side hiking & equestrian map online with a credit card. This new method expedites the ordering process and gets it to your house nearly a week faster! Additionally, you’re directly supporting conservation as $2.00 from every map goes into a fund dedicated to trail stewardship and improvements on the forest.
  • You can also automatically subscribe to our email list to get all the information about events on the forest.
  • We’re currently working on a collaboration at Garden of the Gods with the Forest Service for National Public Lands Day on September 26.
  • We recently unveiled a new page on our website to thank our supporters at the larger funding levels for their generosity towards our organization.
  • The fishing derbies in June were a huge success too! The Shawnee Friends provided nutritious snacks to the children and their families to keep their energy levels up while they fished under the beautiful skies of Lake Glendale and Oakwood Bottoms.
  • If you’re a member of the Shawnee Friends you’ll receive our end of the summer newsletter in the following weeks with pictures, highlights, and accomplishments from the last few months plus a sneak at what’s to come.
  • On June 28th we held our annual Member Dinner to thank all of the people and organizations who help us continue to do the work we believe in for the forest. We acknowledged supporters, members, and our first Volunteer of the Year (will it be you next year?). Please take a look and share the newsletter full of pictures and more about the annual dinner. Below are two of the photos from the event.

We hope you’re staying cool outside while enjoying all the Shawnee has to offer. Please continue following us on Facebook and Twitter and reading our e-mails to stay connected! Photo 9Delicious food, socializing, wine tasting, and fun at our 2015 Annual Member Dinner held at Bella T Winery               Photo 11Acknowledging our Volunteer of the Year, Logan Johnson owner/operator of Southern Illinois Technology, for his significant contributions to our digital marketing, technological capabilities, building our online store, and more. (Pictured above: Jody Johnson – Chairman of the Board, Logan Johnson, and Jennifer Swan – Executive Director).July 2015What’s new with the Shawnee Friends?The Shawnee Friends have been working hard to live up to our mission of promoting the Shawnee National Forest, outdoor recreation, volunteerism, and more. In the last month or so we’ve made some great progress that includes

  • The newly printed 2015 version of the Shawnee Forest east side hiking and equestrian map. You can order yours for you or your group here. They can also be purchased at the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Harrisburg IL and the Ranger Station in Vienna.
  • We have expanded our retail sales to include a limited amount of apparel at the Forest Service Ranger’s Station in Vienna, IL.
  • We also have our Shawnee National Forest apparel for sale online through this website.
  • Have you noticed our trip planning page? The Shawnee Friends are working on creating a “one-stop-shop” for all recreation and tourism opportunities related to the Shawnee National Forest. Stay tuned as we keep adding more opportunities for exploring the Shawnee.
  • Have you signed up for our e-mail list? Make sure you do in order to get the latest information about free events on the forest, volunteer opportunities, and more. And you can always opt out at anytime after signing up if you change your mind.

We strive to bring you the best of the Shawnee National Forest. We thank you for your support!Forest Service K9 Samio has received a bullet & stab resistant vestSamio 1     Vested Samio 2

The Forest Service K9 Samio has received a ballistic vest thanks to a nonprofit organization, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. a Massachusetts based nonprofit organization, and Armor Express, a Michigan based manufacturer. Armor Express of Central Lake, MI. has an incentive program for every 15 vests purchased by the charity, a free vest was awarded. Vests were donated to K9’s in Illinois, Iowa, Texas, and Georgia.  Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA. whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests for law enforcement dogs throughout the United States. Each vest costs $950.00 and has a 5 year warranty. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four legged K9 officers.Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 1320 law enforcement dogs with protective vests since their inception in August of 2009. Over $1.2 million dollars has been donated for K9 vests in 49 states including Alaska and Hawaii.Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. announces their 7” plush stuffed German Shepherd K9 Hero, “Cesar”, and company ambassador of Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. now for sale online for $15.00 at  Proceeds from the sales will provide bullet and stab protective vests, for police dogs actively working without the potentially lifesaving equipment. The organization orders the Armor Express vests made in Central Lake, MI exclusively from distributor Regency Supply in Hyannis, MA. who also does the custom embroidery on the body armor. New K9 graduates as well as K9’s with expired vests are eligible to apply for the ballistic vests. The program is open to US employed and certified K9’s who are at least 19 months of age. Information may be found by visiting the website or calling 508-824-6978. Donations may be made via the website at and by mail at Vested Interest in K9’s P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA. 02718.2015 Annual RetreatBoardPictured above are the Board of Directors for Friends of the Shawnee National ForestFront row (left to right): Pat York (treasurer), Lucia Meijer, Jennifer Swan (Executive Director), Dave Hug, and Jody Johnson (Chairman of the Board)
Back row (left to right): Jessica Cox, Chris Long, Mitch Belsley, and Mike KorteEach year the Friends get together for a full day to discuss past and current efforts on the forest and to decide how to manage and maximize our resources to support the Shawnee National Forest. This year we were led by professional consultant, Kevin Purcell, who generously donated his time for our day long retreat at Touch of Nature Environmental Center. The meeting was incredibly productive, helped us align our most important goals for 2015, all while being realistic of our capabilities and resources. By the time the day concluded we had five primary objectives to focus on.Two of them are very marketing and brand focused so that we can continue to get our name out in the community, spread the word on what we do, and build our membership base. The final three objectives focused around building a volunteer base in partnership with the Forest Service for projects on the forest such as trail improvement days and providing Leave No Trace programming at specific events by our LNT Master Educators, Mitch, Dave, and Ely. We are also going to make our webpage a “one stop shop” for planning trips and recreation activities on the Shawnee with personal endorsements from our board members of our favorite places to go, photographs, what to pack, links to further information, how to be prepared, where to rent equipment if necessary, messages on Leave No Trace ethics, and more.And of course, we have our non-negotiable objectives that include selling our new apparel and merchandise and getting the next generation hiking and equestrian trail map available to the public.Memberships for 2015We have updated our membership brochures with new benefits and information about what we’ve been able to do on the forest thanks to the generous support of our members and sponsors. New for 2015 are features that benefit business owners. Not only are you supporting stewardship and recreation in the Shawnee National Forest but you’re letting the southern Illinois consumer base know that you support the forest and love the outdoors! Plus, it’s a very affordable way to advertise! The Friends does not receive money from the government and relies on membership dollars and the sale of our merchandise, apparel, and maps to support ecological education, stewardship, and volunteer efforts on the forest. Your dollars are directly supporting these opportunities in the community and having a positive impact on local children. Please share in our love of the Shawnee National Forest and become a member today.Click on the membership brochure below to enlarge to read more. If you wish to support the Friends, simply print this brochure and mail it in. We thank you!Brochure 2015-2Brochure 2015-1A Message From Our Treasurer: 501 (C) (3) Approved!!Dear Entrepreneurs, Member, and Friends,We are celebrating a new chapter with Friends of the Shawnee National Forest as a federally-designated 501 (C) (3)! Kudos to Susi for taking on the HUGE application process with volumes of paperwork and to Jennifer for following up with phone calls to IRS, missing information and addendums. Kudos to all of the VISTAs and Forest Service (Including the Shawnee, Region 9 and Integrated Resources Enterprise Team), early and existing board members, Chairs and our first Executive Director, Russ Ward.In 2009 the concept of the organization was a dream as a result of engagement in the Forest Service national effort in Community Engagement for Recreation and Tourism (CERT). In 2010 Friends of the Shawnee National Forest was formed and an application submitted and accepted by Illinois as a state not-for-profit organization. Also in that year a partnership was formed between the Shawnee National Forest (funded) and University of Illinois Extension (hosted) for the first of many amazing VISTA Volunteers from the Corporation for National and Community Service through their National Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA) program providing environmental ed programs, establishing organizational processes and selling merchandise and memberships, representing Forest Service career and recreation opportunities at multiple events, etc. etc. In 2011 the first of 2 agreements between Friends and the Shawnee National Forest were signed with funding from the Shawnee National Forest and Region 9 to lead/facilitate CERT throughout the southern Illinois and much more. In 2013 the application for 501 (c) 3 was submitted. In 2014 the strategy meeting was held, launching a coordinated and dedicated effort to hire our first (paid) Executive Director, which led to hiring Jennifer to help lead the organization, find and submit the missing pieces of the application and ….. drum roll…… the attached acceptance letter by the Federal IRS to designate Friends of the Shawnee as a not-for-profit organization under 501 (C) (3)!! What a celebration!We recognize the work and dedication that led to the formation of the organization and to the 501 (C) (3) designation and offer a round of applause for every person and every effort. It has made a difference! Hundreds of kids and adults have been touched by the programs offered or leveraged by FoSNF, thousands of dollars have been generated and circulated in the local southern Illinois economy, SNF stewardship and programs have been supported and leveraged. Thousands of volunteer hours, thousands of miles, and thousands of dollars in personal expenses have been invested into this organization to deliver what we all believe in: to provide public land stewardship, conservation education, responsible recreation and to contribute to the local economy in significant ways.As one of the initiators of the organization, former forest service employee and now board member, I send my gratitude to each and every one of you for this journey and to see this milestone achieved.PatOLDER ARTICLES