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John M. Olin Nature Preserve

Nature Preserves & Protected Places
294 acres of diverse terrain, wildlife habitat, and hiking trails located on S. Levis Ln. in Godfrey, IL Home of Talahi Lodge, The Nature Institute’s education facility Open daily from sunrise to sunset

IL Route 3

Mississippi Sanctuary

46-acre former estate of TNI benefactors James & Aune Nelson Bluff terrain, waterfall, views of the river and Mr. Nelson’s beautiful arboretum Open during regular business hours

Kemp & Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary
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Freeman, Metzger, Larson Savanna
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44 acres of restored tallgrass prairie, named for bird enthusiasts Kemp & Cora Hutchinson Mowed hiking trails and observation platform, located at TNI’s main entrance Open daily from sunrise to sunset

Heartland Prairie Project
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10 acres of restored oak savanna, named after volunteer board members Located west of main entrance on Levis Ln. Open daily from sunrise to sunset 27-acre restored prairie & woodland, owned by the City of Alton, managed by volunteers At Gordon Moore Park in Alton, IL Open during regular park hours

Tips for Hiking
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Did You Know? The Olin Nature Preserve is one of the largest in the state! It’s privately owned, but open to the public .

Wear supportive shoes, especially through the Olin Nature Preserve and the Mississippi Sanctuary where trails become moderately steep. Leave No Trace: Whatever you carry in, carry back out. Please no pets, fires, or motorized vehicles on the preserves.

Let somone know you’re going. Even though most TNI trails are light to moderate, there are innate dangers in hiking, such as encountering venomous snakes or uneven terrain. Watch out for poison ivy (“leaves of three, let it be”).

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Yes, I want to take a leadership role in protecting our natural heritage by becoming a member of The Nature Institute.

(Check here for your dues to support TNI’s Scholarship Fund __)

Please mail this form to: The Nature Institute 2213 S. Levis Ln. Godfrey, IL 62035. Your tax-deductible donation is payable to “TNI”.



Our History

Our Mission
TNI land stewards use modern land management techniques, like prescribed fire, to control invasive species, promote biodiversity and improve wildlife habitat across all TNI preserves and buffer properties. In collaboration with local partners, stewards also work on projects to protect habitat along the 22-mile Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway.


Family ____ $50

Student ____ $15

Mississippi Sanctuary Society ____ $100+



In 1926, the Levis Family commissioned a group of Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) members to build a YWCA retreat called Camp Talahi. Nearly thirty years later, industrialist and entrepreneur John M. Olin bought the lodge and surrounding woods. Later, Mr. Olin deeded his property to the State, requesting that it always be preserved as a natural area.

Individual ____ $25

Over the years, volunteer stewards, educators, and community members of all kinds have kept Olin’s vision alive. The Nature Institute officially became a nonprofit organization in 1980 and, with the help of people like you, we continue to protect the Olin Nature Perserve and other parts of our community’s natural heritage.

The Heartland Prairie project is a vibrant example of TNI’s restoration efforts. With years of dedication from volunteer stewards, city officials, and TNI staff, this former agricultural land now serves as an example of high-quality native prairie in Illinois. Other projects include the Freemen, Metzger, Larson Savanna, the Kemp & Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary, and Cypress Pond.



The Nature Institute
2213 S. Levis Lane Godfrey, IL 62035 Main Office: 618-466-9930 Find us on Facebook

Education Office: 618-467-2521

The Nature Institute welcomes over 400 young people to its Discovery Day Camp each summer, where they learn outdoor skills and the importance of conservation. TNI educators also host field trips, community events, free and low-cost naturalist programs for area students, and environmental education workshops for teachers throughout the year.