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

Jo's Grove Playscape

Jo's Grove Playscape
Jo's Grove Playscape-Photo by Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of Ijams

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Visitor Center (and gift shop) will be closed today but reopen Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so stop by and say "Hello." And remember, at Ijams Fridays are never black.

The grounds and all the trails are open every day, 365 days a year! We are a great place to come and walk off your big meal of thanks. 


Monday, November 23, 2015

Ijams Hiking Club explores new Wood property

Members of the Ijams Hiking Club explored one of the new trails being built on the Wood Property. The new parcel will become part of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness South Loop. It is currently under the watchful eye of the Legacy Parks Foundation (LPF) and although it's not yet open to the public, we were given permission to go for a test drive (well, actually a test walk).

Here's a description from the LPF website: The Wood Property is a new "acquisition of 100 acres, generously donated by the Wood family to Legacy Parks, will provide a key connection from the Urban Wilderness South Loop Trail System to nearby neighborhoods and South Doyle Middle School and its Outdoor Classroom. The plans for the property call for a variety of trails and features including a one-mile introductory mountain bike trail for riders of all ages, a skills/play area, three-and-a-half miles of mixed-use trails with two overlooks and three creek-crossing structures."

The Ijams Hiking Club meets once a month to explore one of the Urban Wilderness Trails.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Ijams volunteer Eric Johnson led the way
And away went.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

News Sentinel features Ijams Waggin' Walk story

Ijams Waggin' Walk
Saturday, November 21, 9 a.m.

(All Ages: Both human and dog) Grab your favorite four-legged friend and join Ijams’ own veterinarian, Dr. Louise Conrad, as she walks her own canine companions. She’ll review good doggy etiquette at the park and help owners understand the special safety concerns for dogs in nature. The fee for this program is $5 for non-members and FREE for members. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.

Louise's last walk was featured in the Knoxville News Sentinel. Here's a link: Along the Waggin' Trail

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ijams welcomed Scout Packs 630, 110 for guided hike

Last Sunday afternoon Ijams hosted Boy Scout Packs 630 (Cedar Bluff) and 110 (Sevierville) on a nature hike. The scouts were working on the requirements for the Bear CORE Adventure: "Fur, Feathers and Ferns." For this adventure, the scouts learn about wildlife and plants in their area, composting and endangered species. For more details click: ScouterMom.

Ijams volunteer Mac Post led the two groups to the Garden Demonstration Site, up and over Tower Trail and then along the River Trail back to the Visitor Center to complete the worksheet.

Ijams has been hosting such scouting activities—both girl and boy scouts—for over 90 years.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Scouts work their way down the new Ben Nanny Stone Staircase of Awesomeness.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ijams Creature Features featured in online article

Ijams educator Sammi Stoklosa with eastern screech-owl

 Stop by the Visitor Center any weekend for a free animal presentation: Saturdays at 10 a.m., 2 and 3 p.m. and Sundays at 1 and 2 p.m. 

Ijams Creature Features have become very popular. Sometimes it's a red-tailed hawk or vulture, sometimes a snake or turtle and sometimes it's an adorable opossum, you never know, it may even been a tarantula.  All have interesting stories. 

UT reporter Shelby Kast with
Pantherophis alleghaniensis
Last Sunday, reporter Shelby Kast with the Tennessee Journalist—the official news website of the University of Tennessee's School of Journalism and Electronic Mediastopped by to investigate. She got to meet an albino black rat snake. Here is her report: TN Journalist.

- Stephen Lyn Bales 

Ijams veterinarian, Dr. Louise Conrad, with our resident turkey vulture

Saturday, November 7, 2015

TN Naturalists @ Ijams become rockhounds for a day

TN Naturalist class visit the Keyhole at Ross Marble Quarry on the east side of Ijams.

The TN Naturalists @ Ijams class of 2015 got down to the bedrock of the Ridge and Valley, our geologic province.

After covering the different geologic provinces of the state—from the Appalachian Mountains in the east to the Mississippi River alluvial valley in the west—and the basics of our own geologic province indoors, the class ventured outdoors. We walked from the west end of Ijams to the east, covering four different rock formations along the way (all sedimentary, all Ordovican in origin). The four formations of exposed bedrock at Ijams are Ottosee (shale), Chapman Ridge (sandstone), Holston (crystalline limestone) and Lenior (silty limestone). 

The last class of 2015 is in two weeks: Saturday, November 21. We'll cover the second half of the birding curriculum. And then have lunch. 

The TN Naturalist Program @ Ijams is 40 hours of naturalist classes covering a wide range of topics plus 40 hours of volunteer work.  

The classes begin in March and wrap up in November. We are already taking registration for 2016. To register call Peg at (865) 577-4717, ext. 114. (She needs your name, phone number and email address.)

- Stephen Lyn Bales.

Chunk of shale, part of the Ottosee Formation
Chapman Ridge formation originally deposited roughly 450 million years ago.

Cave on boardwalk illustrates karst topography of caves and sinkholes

The geologic fold and faulting occurred roughly 250 million years ago

Chunk of crystalline limestone, part of the Holston Formation

Silty, crumbly limestone from the Lenior Formation
She took a selfie! Our youngest TN Naturalist student ever:
the go-anywhere, do-anything Joe Fairchild poses with teacher. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ijams acquires new, but injured, barred owl

Beautiful eyes! But actually the new educational owl only has partial vision in its left one. 
Dr. Louise Conrad

The Ijams education department recently took in a non-rehabilitatable barred owl.

A short time ago, the young male was brought to UT Veterinary Teaching Hospital with injuries to both eyes. They were able to save the actual eyes but the poor bird is blind in one and only has partial vision in the other.

Luckily, Ijams had an empty enclosure and our part time veterinarian, Dr. Louise Conrad worked out his transfer to our care. Without that, it might have been euthanized. 

In time, he'll make an excellent education animal, doing programs for hundreds of people and students. 

Dr. Louise is in charge of the health and well being of all the animals we routinely use in our programs.

To donate money for the care of the young barred owl or any of our animals call Jennifer: (865) 577-4717. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ijams odd Saturday staff says, "Happy Halloween"

If you stop by Ijams today, you'll discover that the normal Saturday staff has been ousted by an even odder group. 

All in good fun, there's Rex the pirate; the one, the only, Dr. Peg Quackenbush; Louise the hairy-footed Hobbit; a very sleepy Bruce Wayne (he was out fighting crime all night); while not to be outdone: Marvel's Captain Lauren America and finally tattooed-knuckled biker chick Sharon. The part of the large purple spider is being played by a large purple spider, while out working the leaves on the plaza is Overly Cautious Man: Luke.

And, most fittingly appropriate for the holiday, Zoe the turkey vulture is out greeting the afternoon visitors. She is also looking for any leftover truly dead undead zombies.  

- Stephen Lyn Bales   

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ijams loves the inquisitive Little Tykes, especially at Halloween

Little Tykes Hike for Halloween.  - Photo by Jennifer Roder

Our Little Tykes Hike for Halloween was great fun! (Notice we had two Batmen. And the stormtrooper girl in a tutu on the back row.) 

The inquisitive little tykes were invited to come in costume and they did.  

Our next hike for the little ones is Tuesday, November 3, 10 - 11 a.m. Like always it's recommended for children under 6. 

Little Tykes Hikes are perfect for little ones that love to explore, find, play and learn. Join Ijams on the trails to look under, over, and into secret places along the way. Learn all the fun things about autumn. Program is free, but pre-registration is required. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register. (Costume is optional.)
Here's a link to our WBIR Live@5@4 segment with Jennifer and her adorable witchy daughter: Little Tykes.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ijams staffers attend October sturgeon release, bring home two

Ijams veterinarian Dr. Louise Conrad watch fifth graders release young sturgeon at Sevens Islands

TNACI's Dr. Bernie Kuhajda

On October 8, aquatic biologists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the University of Tennessee’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries released 1,000 lake sturgeon at Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge upstream from Ijams.

This east Knox County location on the French Broad River has been identified as favorable habitat for this species that is listed as endangered within Tennessee’s waters.

Students from a fifth grade class at Gap Creek Elementary in Knoxville helped release the y.o.y. (young-of-the-year) sturgeon. The hands-on classroom activity, assisting with this release, increases their understanding of freshwater conservation. They also discover how the health of the river and human health are connected.

The Tennessee Aquarium and its partners have reintroduced more than 181,000 lake sturgeon to the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers since 1998.

Ijams staffer Peg Beute and other local Water Quality Forum members attended the very first major release just below Douglas Dam on July 19, 2000.

The goal of the long-term “Saving the Sturgeon” program is to restore a self-sustaining population of lake sturgeon in Tennessee. So far this effort has proven very successful with anglers reporting these fish downstream in Alabama and Kentucky (yes, the Tennessee River eventually flows north into the Bluegrass State.) Biologists have also been encouraged by recent surveys to monitor the population between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

These impressive fish are true river giants. Some may grow to more than eight feet in length. Lake sturgeon have also been known to live nearly 150 years, feeding mainly on bottom dwelling crayfishes, mussels, aquatic insect larvae and small fishes.

French Broad River at Seven Islands
Kathlina Alford, Thom Benson and Dr. Bernie Kuhajda with the Tennessee Aquarium (right, all in dark blue) help Gap Creek fifth graders release young sturgeon into the French Broad.

Some of the 1,000 sturgeon sampling the taste of the French Broad River for the first time.

What did the sturgeon young of the year look like? 

Well, you can visit Ijams and find out. 

Ijams veterinarian, Dr. Louise Conrad and Peg Beute attended the release to bring two y.o.y. back to the nature center. They are display in the Exhibit Hall until they outgrow their aquarium home. (The last sturgeon that lived in the Ijams Exhibit Hall moved on to a larger tank at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans.

These two sturgeon spent the past year at Ijams in the exhibit Hall.
But they have outgrown their aquarium and will now move on to a larger one in New Orleans
Two new young-of-the-year sturgeon are now on display at Ijams.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Secret: Nature Day Campers searched cave for lost time

GNI SPECIAL REPORT: Dateline Knoxville: Now that he's safely out of the country on other adventures, we can report that Barcus, world renowned archaeologist and suspected tomb raider, i.e. dealer of lost artifacts, paid a visit to Ijams last summer. 

The International bon vivant Barcus—mensonge énorme—is secretive. Little is known about him except he speaks with an awkward French accent. At Ijams, Barcus quickly called for a closed door meeting with the second, third and fourth graders attending the Tall Tale Nature Day Camp at the South Knox nature center. Barcus shared a secret and none of the campers are talking. It's all very hush, hush. 

Afterwards, the group slipped out of the building and quietly explored one of the iron-gated caves nearby in search of lost time. The hidden cavern is sealed-tight to protect the wildlife that lives inside: bats, salamanders and various cave-dwelling squiggles. 

The campers were surrounded by a sandy limestone formed during the Ordovician Period of geologic time, meaning that the young cave explorers were going back over 440 million years. The cave itself is thousands of years old, steeped in mystery but does it really hold a shadowy secret?

Who knows? Lips are sealed. And Barcus is once again, incommunicado.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Saturday, October 10, 2015

DOW funds new interpretive signs around the park

Are you going to visit Ijams anytime soon? 

Well, there are 25 new educational interpretive signs around the 300 acres. All give you a brief insight into your surroundings. Above is a sign by the Plaza Pavilion about the frogs and newts that live in the pond. All were written, illustrated and designed internally by Jen&Lyn. 

Can you find the other 24 new signs? All were paid for by a grant from DOW. 

(Hint: The new signs sport the DOW logo.) 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TN Naturalists @ Ijams search for insects, other creepy crawlies

The seventh TN Naturalists @ Ijams class covered insects and other Arthropoda: arachnids (spiders), myriapods (millipedes and centipedes) and some crustaceans (pill bugs, a.k.a. sowbugs, a.k.a. roly polies).

After a short class indoors where we discussed orders, body parts and who eats who, we went outdoors. 

We scratched in the leaves. We turned over rocks. We ran around like kids with butterfly nets.

Great fun!

- Stephen Lyn Bales