Altamont is a city in Effingham County, Illinois, United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.4km2), all of it land. allard Nature Center consists of 210 acres (0.8 km2), including 100 acres (0.4 km2) of woodland, 15 acres (61,000 m2) of restored prairie, 10 acres (40,000 m2) of shallow water wetlands and 85 acres (340,000 m2) of agricultural land. Ernie Ballard's donation of 210 acres (0.8 km2) for the site of a nature center and the funds to construct a visitor center, show of his great generosity, concern for the environment, and his foresight for the future. He developed a non-profit 501 (C) 3 foundation, in August 1999, to oversee the development and management of the center. Construction of the log building began in October 1999 and was opened to the public in July 2000. His gift is a culmination of Ernie's interest in conservaion and helping people. He and his wife Wanda viewed the property as a "valuable legacy for future generations".
The purpose of the Ballard Nature Center is to provide high quality environmental education, and a place for the enjoyment of nature. Educational programs have been developed for schools, who come to the center on field trips. Educational exhibits on Illinois' natural resources have been designed for all ages to enjoy, and are continuing to be added. Topics of displays include, trees, birds, bats, insects, and mammals. Adult and family programs are offered throughout the year, as well as summer nature study classes for children. Prairie restoration, wetland development, and trail development projects are ongoing. Many projects at the center have been accomplished with volunteer help. The center is a wonderful resource for 4-H, scouts, schools, and environmental organizations.