The United States Mint joined the National Forest Service today to launch the Shawnee National Forest "America the Beautiful" quarter release.
The coin, which features Camel Rock with natural vegetation in the foreground and red-tailed hawk soaring in the sky overhead was released Thursday in the Southeastern Illinois College gymnasium.
State officials, national park officials, and Shawnee Indian representatives were present at the event to celebrate the landmark in history.
"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 1,000 local school aged children and dignitaries assembled at the SIC Deaton Gymnasium for the ceremony. The public traded their cash of $10 rolls of newly minted Shawnee National Forest quarters after the ceremony.
In addition to the launch ceremony, the Mint also hosted a coin forum at Shawnee National Forest Headquarters on Wednesday evening.
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, it home to a diversity of plant and animal life.
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 sited authorized by Public Law 110-456.
Each year, the public will see five new national sites depicted on the reverse 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.