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Friends of Shawnee National Forest names director

March 11, 2011 at 09:21 PM

Prairie State Outdoors

From the Friends of the Shawnee National Forest:

The Friends of the Shawnee National Forest, a new organization that is working with the Forest Service to support the Forest and Southern Illinois has named Russell Ward as the executive director.

The group was created by local citizens interested in the Shawnee National Forest and the role that it has in Southern Illinois. Ward has been with the group since the first meeting in June of 2010 as the director for the Southern Illinois Tourism Development Office. The regional tourism office was closed due to a lack of state funding and as a result Ward was available for the post.

Ward, a lifelong resident of Southern Illinois living in rural Jackson County, understands the importance of the newly formed organization. He said, “I love the Shawnee and this group will be able to assist where the Forest Service needs help, but also will create a mechanism through which private business and private citizens can partner with the Shawnee in ways that will benefit both. This is a very exciting opportunity.” 

The Friends of the Shawnee National Forest will be working with the Forest Service to promote stewardship, responsible recreation, education and make more connections between the region and the Shawnee. It will also be very active in encouraging volunteerism in the forest.

One of the first steps of any organization is to find partners in this first of its kind effort. “We are offering charter memberships through the end of the year to individuals and businesses that want to get in on the ground floor of this organization,” said Ward. The group has already had a significant donation by the First Bank and Trust of Murphysboro and is looking forward to other businesses joining as charter members.

Charter memberships are available through the end of this year and can be made by making checks out to Friends of the Shawnee National Forest for $25.00 or more and mailing it to Post Office Box 154 Carterville, IL 62918. There are also family memberships available for $75.00 and there are several other levels of support including business memberships. Ward will also schedule a meeting with any business or organization that wants to hear more about the group. For a brochure on memberships and information regarding the group and the goals of the Friends of the Shawnee National Forest please contact Russ Ward at 618-924-3642.

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