Home Outdoor education Brian Croft is the new director of SIU’s Touch of Nature

Brian Croft is the new director of SIU’s Touch of Nature


September 22, 2022

Brian Croft is the new director of SIU’s Touch of Nature

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Brian Croft, a dual alumnus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been chosen as the new director of SIU’s Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center.

Croft brings many years of experience in education and outdoor recreation to his new role as well as a vision for the future of the facility, to serve even better the diverse populations that go there, said Jeffery T. Burgin Jr., Vice President Chancellor for Student Affairs.

“Brian is passionate about experiential education and inclusive outdoor recreation,” Burgin said. “He is a seasoned instructor, camp leader and outdoor experience professional with over a decade of outdoor programming experience and extensive knowledge of outdoor program development. I am confident that under his leadership, Touch of Nature will expand on its mission to enhance the lives of the countless diverse people who visit the many wonderful programs and experiences offered there. I look forward to working with Brian and the rest of the Touch of Nature staff to develop the first outdoor experience space.

Strong link with Touch of Nature

Croft is no newcomer to Touch of Nature, having served as assistant director of education and outdoor recreation there since October 2019, and he said his connection to the Learning Lab in outdoors has always been strong enough.

“I haven’t quite realized yet that I just got my dream job. Touch of Nature has such an incredible history domestically, and playing a part in its future development is truly an opportunity I could only dream of, Croft said. “I truly believe that our role at the center is to honor our past and our heritage as a leader in outdoor and experiential education while keeping our eyes on the future.”

In his role as Vice Principal, he managed many programs including Outdoor Education, Environmental and Adventure Education, Recreation Therapy, Community Programs, Basecamp, First Year Student Orientation Program year Dawg Days and much more. Additionally, he was Outdoor Program Manager and Outdoor Education Staff member between 2006 and 2012 at Touch of Nature.

“We look forward to the return of Camp Little Giant in 2023, with the components that have always made it extra special but redesigned to be relevant for today’s campers,” Croft added. “We also look forward to the continued growth of our on-campus and outdoor education programs. And with the addition of new programs like the Little Grassy Get Down Music Festival and our popular and growing Touch of Nature Multiuse Trail System, along with our many other programs and amenities, we are well positioned to continue to grow and expand. providing students and visitors with incredible outdoor opportunities now and in the future.

Extensive experience and references

Croft also served as Assistant Recreation Director, Outdoor Programs Coordinator, and Associate Instructor at Indiana University, Bloomington, between 2014 and 2019, and prior to that, he was Director of Camping Services and Director of Programs at Camp Ondessonk in Ozark, Illinois. Additionally, Croft has taught a variety of courses focused on outdoor recreation, tourism, adventure, leadership, and education at SIU and IU as well as in Wisconsin and Michigan as a guest lecturer.

Croft is a lifelong Saluki, having earned his Masters in Health Education and Recreation as well as his Bachelors in Recreation at SIU; he plans to complete his doctorate in educational administration in December. He also holds a number of certifications and accreditations, including Mountain Bike Teaching Level 1 of the Mountain Bike Instructor Course Program, Leave No Trace Master Educator Trainer and Wilderness First Responder from Wilderness Medical Associates.

He assumed his new role at Touch of Nature on September 1.