The United States Mint joined the National Forest Service Thursday morning, Feb. 4, 2016, to launch the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program coin honoring Shawnee National Forest.
The quarter’s reverse (tails side) depicts a close view of Camel Rock, located within the Shawnee National Forest, with natural vegetation in the foreground and a red-tailed hawk soaring in the sky overhead.
“Not only is the Shawnee National Forest quarter the 31st coin in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, and the first quarter to be introduced into circulation in 2016, it also is the fifth and last national forest to be honored in the program,” said Dean Bidle, program manager for Numismatic Packaging Planning at the United States Mint. “Millions of Americans will now have a reminder of the beauty of Southern Illinois through a quarter designed in the national forest’s honor.”
More than 300 local school-aged children and dignitaries assembled at the Southeastern Illinois College Deaton Gymnasium near Harrisburg for the ceremony. Guest speakers included U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell; Shawnee National Forest Supervisor Allen Nicholas; Deb Detmers, district director for U.S. Representative John Shimkus; Matt Rice, district director for U.S. Representative Mike Bost; Ben Barnes, Second Chief of the Shawnee Tribe; George Blanchard, representative of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma; Todd Carr, president of the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau; and Bidle.
The public traded their cash for $10 rolls of newly minted Shawnee National Forest quarters after the cermeony.
In addition to the launch ceremony, the Mint also hosted a coin forum at Shawnee National Forest Headquarters the evening before the launch ceremony.
Located in the southern tip of Illinois, Shawnee National Forest offers a variety of outdoor opportunities and diverse landscapes. In contrast with the remainder of Illinois, the site’s rolling landscape and rugged bluffs, is home to a diversity of plant and animal life. Covered in deciduous forests and cradled between two major river ways (Ohio River and Mississippi River), it is the only national forest in Illinois.
The Shawnee National Forest quarter is the 31st release in the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, a 12-year initiative to honor 56 national parks and other national sites authorized by Public Law 110-456. Each year, the public will see five new national sites depicted on the reverse (tails side) of the America the Beautiful Quarters. The United States Mint is issuing these quarters in the order in which the national sites were officially established.