Newsletter Summer 2022


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The Friends of the Shawnee National Forest is a nonprofit organization that supports the Shawnee National Forest by promoting land stewardship, environmental education and responsible outdoor recreation.

Summers days in the Shawnee National Forest range from beautiful to intense. Summer flowers are in full bloom, animal babies start to appear, and the forest looks that much more spectacular. Plan ahead. Check the weather, dress for the occasion, and always carry plenty of water. Not sure where you’re going? Visit our website for maps and other fun items to help remember your Shawnee National Forest adventure. Enjoy your stay and remember to leave it better than you found it.

Find out more information about the Shawnee National Forest at

We Welcome Two New Board Members

Kristi Weaver

Kristi Weaver moved to Southern Illinois from the cornfields of Normal, IL in 1989 to attend Southern Illinois University where she earned a BA and MA in History. She instantly fell in love with the surrounding area, and has been hiking in the Shawnee extensively for over 30 years. In the early 2000s, Kristi moved away from the area for a brief period to attend McKendree University where she earned a MA in Counseling Psychology. Kristi is an LCPC and works as a mental health therapist at Pinckneyville Community Hospital. She resides in Carbondale, IL and is the mother of two adult children- a son, Jason, and a daughter, Kenzie.  In her free time, she is the founder and chief administrator of a Southern Illinois hiking group for folks over 50 called the Shawnee Saunterers. In 2022, she completed the River to River Trail section hiking on weekends from the Ohio to the Mississippi. Kristi enjoys introducing others to the beauty of the Shawnee National Forest and is a dedicated volunteer to causes that promote forest education, safety and conservancy. Kristi can be reached at  volunteer. Email us at

Leslie Ewell

“Being a native of Southern Illinois and an Alumna of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, I have spent countless hours, days, and even nights in the Shawnee National Forest. My mother is a steward of the USFS and has always inspired and motivated me to follow in her footsteps. The past 25 years I lived in Jacksonville, FL where I was a volunteer and employee for the Girl Scouts, all the while raising a family. My passion for marathon running (13 full marathon finishes and over 50 halfs) led me to be a trainer for the local Galloway Marathon Group.Now that I am officially back in the heart of Southern Illinois I have embraced my love, enthusiasm, and respect for the outdoors and The Shawnee National Forest. Being a talented artist and holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography, you will likely spot me in the forest capturing images through my eye or sitting with a sketch book capturing the raw beauty of the forest. I love and thrive in the lesser known areas and the “off the beaten path” areas of the Shawnee. I’m excited to share my love, appreciation, and stewardship of the gem we have right in our backyard.”

Left it Better than We Found it

The Friends of the Shawnee Forest and the Shawnee Saunterers combined forces for a trash blast the day after Memorial Day, Tuesday, May 31 at Bell Smith Springs. With summer activity coming up, we hope visitors leave it better than they found it.

We’re always looking for volunteers. Visit to get on our database.
As always, visit for additional information.

Naturalist in the Classroom/Every Kid Outdoors

The Friends of the Shawnee was honored to participate in the Naturalist in the Classroom and Every Kid Outdoors programs in early May. This was a collaboration between the Friends, the United States Forest Service, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Friends provided funding for bus transportation to get more kids outdoors.
Tuesday, May 3, 3rd graders from Carruthers School in Murphysboro got up close to nature, with canoeing, dip netting and more at Lake Murphysboro State Park.

Wednesday,, May 11 the outdoor adventure shifted to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge as 4th graders from Unity Point and Giant City got in touch with nature.

Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this all happen.

Post Cards and Magnets Available

Now available. We’ve added Post Cards and Magnets to our online store featuring: Garden of the Gods, Inspiration Point, Little Grand Canyon, Burden Falls and Jackson Hole on our online store at

And don’t forget to visit the USFS offices in Harrisburg and Vienna for other items.

This is Where We Live

Become a Friends of the Shawnee National Forest Member

This is where we live
Consider becoming a new Member of the Friends of the Shawnee National Forest or renew your membership.

Ash – $250

New Ash Members receive all everything below, plus recognition of their name or business on our website.

All members receive:

  • Our quarterly e-newsletter.
  • Emails inviting them to stewardship events such as trash blasts and trail building.
  • The satisfaction of knowing they are supporting the Friends’ mission in promoting land stewardship, environmental education, and responsible outdoor recreation in the Shawnee National Forest.

Membership Levels

Sapling – $25
Redbud – $40

New Redbud Members receive a T-shirt.
Dogwood – $75
New Dogwood Members receive a T-shirt and their choice of east side or west side trail maps of the Shawnee.
Elm – $100
New Elm Members receive a T-shirt, their choice of east side or west side trail maps and annual recognition in our e-newsletter.

Visit send to:
Friends of the Shawnee National Forest
P.O. Box 612 Carbondale, IL 62903

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, membership and donations are tax deductible.