- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Stephen Lyn Bales, editor

Paddlers on Mead's Lake

Paddlers on Mead's Lake
Outdoor Adventure Campers! on Mead's Lake. Photo S.L.B.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It was a week of scouting for Nature Day Camp: Week 8



The summer Day Camp kids got into nature during week eight. It was a five days of traditional scouting activities led by educator Sabrina DeVault.

We explored Toll Creek, went into a cave, talked about endangered species and, during the heat of day, just had some wet and wild fun cooling down.

WBIR's Emily Stroud also paid a visit during our cave exploration while we looked for a Tennessee Cave Salamander, a hard to find amphibian because they live in dark and damp places. 

Oh, what fun to remember!  




Into a cave we did go!




And a cool down: Wet and wild afternoon!









Plus, WBIR's Emily Stroud visited us 
on a (click to see) trip into an Ijams cave.


Special thanks to our great week 8 camp staff!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

TN Naturalists study Aquatic Systems at Ijams



We're lucky at Ijams! We have several ponds, a lake, a creek and we border the Tennessee River, perfect for the TN Naturalist class called Tennessee Waters: Aquatic Systems.

As part of the class, Jen Roder and Stephen Lyn led the group on a search for aquatic life in the waterways at the nature center.

This is the second year Ijams has been a part of the now statewide series of Tennessee Naturalists classes. After 40 hours of instruction and 40 hours of volunteering, participants will become certified Tennessee naturalists.

In all there's a total of 12 classes that take us all over the grounds of Ijams.



















Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hikers start with Ijams but soon accomplished much more


Congratulations go to Terry Jenkins and Amy Oakley. They both just finished walking all of the trails in Knoxville's Urban Wilderness: South Loop which includes all the trails at Ijams.

Terry began his quest during the Ijams: March Hike-A-Thon and Amy began her's on a hike in May with the Ijams Saturday Hiking Club

They soon became hiking partners and started knocking off two or more trails a week. Currently, there's a total of 49 trails, but most are short. The longest on the checklist is AC/DC which measures 2.9 miles, and that was the last they walked a week ago. However, most of the trails are much shorter, it's a network that to some degree begin at Ijams and covers mostly public lands to the east.

For Amy it took exactly three months to cover all 40-plus miles. Terry and Amy both earned a Knoxville Urban Wilderness patch presented by the Legacy Parks Foundation. 

For those wanting a checklist of all the trails in the Knox Urban Wilderness: South Loop click: gotta record it.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, September 18, 2014

First Ijams walk at new Seven Islands Birding Park

Blue grosbeak. Photo by Jimmy Tucker.


We kicked off the month of September with our first bird forey to the new Seven Islands State Birding Park. The 425-acre state park is a peninsula of land surrounded  on three sides by the French Broad River.

It's also the first park in Tennessee designated as an official birding site with over 180 species that have been documented there over the years. It's also one of the few local sites that have recorded five species of owl: Eastern screech, barred, great horned, barn and Northern saw-whet. 

Early September is a quiet time for birds, many stay hidden as they molt into winter plumage. American goldfinches and indigo buntings were common but perhaps the best bird of the outing was several blue grosbeaks—both adult and juveniles—a life bird for a few in the group.

"Blue Grosbeaks occupy early successional habitats such as brushy pastures and abandoned fields with numerous shrubs and saplings. They also occur in brushy hedgerows adjoining hayfields and fields of small grains," writes Charles Nicholson.

And indeed, that's where we found them! Funny how that works.

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Photos by Jimmy Tucker. Thanks, Jimmy! 




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Flow with outdoor yoga at Ijams on Wednesdays


Yoga instructor Leslie Wagner.  Photo by Kristy Keel. 
Join us for a Wednesday Evening Yoga Flow class for everyone—beginners and yoga converts alike. 

Instructor Leslie Wagner provides a safe, fun class that will have you breathing well and feeling connected and peaceful. 

This class will be held outdoors on the Visitor Center lawn. In the event of rain, class will be relocated to the Homesite pavilion. 

The cost is $12 per class and will be blocked into series of 6 classes or pay as you go for $15 per class as your schedule permits. 

No registration required. If you have any questions about the class, please contact Leslie Wagner at (504) 621-9413. 

Session 1 dates: Sept. 3, 10, 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

29th Symphony in the Park closes summer season


Photo Stephen Lyn Bales


In late summer, as the sun sits a little lower in the sky and the jewelweed blooms around the ponds and streams, Mother Nature ramps up her symphony. The drone of dragonflies and bumblebees fills the meadows. The first of the migrating birds add their voices to the chorus that greets the early-morning sun, and the evening buzz of the cicadas reaches a crescendo that rivals the work of Beethoven himself.

As the summer draws to a close here at Ijams, we like to make a little music of our own.


Maestro Richman
Last Sunday, September 7, Ijams celebrated the 29th year of Symphony in the Park (SIP). This annual fundraising event brings people together for an elegant evening of music in an idyllic outdoor setting. Cocktails and a silent auction give way to dinner and an enchanting performance by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. This was Maestro Lucas Richman twelfth and last SIP. All have been memorable. 

Richard Pratt
In addition to music, Symphony in the Park also highlights a local visual artist each year.

This year’s event highlighted the work of Knoxville painter Richard Pratt. Natural themes and abstract color usage are embodied in Pratt’s work, and the natural setting of Ijams provides the perfect backdrop for his art. Several of his pieces will be on display throughout the evening.

Symphony in the Park raises money to support Ijams’ mission of providing engaging outdoor experiences for people of all ages and walks of life. 


Special thanks to our sponsors


DOGWOOD ($10,000)
Stephen and April Harris

BEAUTYBERRY ($5,000)
Jupiter Entertainment 
Pilot Flying J 

LENTEN ROSE ($2,500)
Alcoa, Inc.
City of Knoxville
Moxley Carmichael 
Pinnacle Financial Partners
Sherri Lee
The Trust Company of Knoxville

IRIS ($1,910)
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & 
Berkowitz, P.C.
Joe and Deb DiPietro
Bryant Research
Home Federal Bank
Southern Shores Development, LLC
Visit Knoxville 
Vulcan Materials Company

Thanks also to
Pete and Linda Claussen
Deborah Franklin 
John and Nancy Stewart 
Paul and Pat Green

- Story by Jenny Newby


Photo by Rex McDaniel

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vestal finishes Outdoor Adventure Camp with a splash: Week 8



The best way to avoid the afternoon heat? Get out of it.


We ended Outdoor Adventure Camp 2014 with a group of eager kids from the Vestal Boys & Girls Club. 

We caught up with the group dip-netting for tadpoles and newts, practicing how to set up a tent quickly, a simulated backcountry rescue and a team canoe relay race. Don't worry the victims were camp counselors only pretending to be lost and hurt. 

Outdoor Adventure Camp is a confidence builder. It's a new program for Ijams and it's made possible with the help of these generous partners:

          • West Knoxville Sertoma Club 
          • Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley 
          • Grassroots Outdoor Alliance 
          • Horny Toad Activewear 
          • Pelican International 
          • River Sports Outfitters

Additional food and funding provided by:

          • South Knoxville Alliance  

Ijams offers camp scholarships for kids in traditionally under-served communities. After the first four weeks we've seen kids from Walter P. Taylor, Western Heights, Middlebrook, North Ridge Crossing, Halls/Powell and Haslam, Norwood, Montgomery Village and Vestal Boys and Girls Club. 

Here's some highlights of week eight:


- Jennifer Roder. Story and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales. 


Finding a fossil is worth 100 points in the team scavenger hunt! (Photo suggested by Kasey Sumeriski)

Dip-netting for tadpoles and newts.









Setting up a proper tent class with Todd







Practicing backcountry rescue with Chris.



Kasey and Abe organizes team canoe race


The two judges are in place.




Last good-byes of summer







And the last bus of summer leaves.