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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ijams Hiking Club saunters to the sunflower fields nearby

The sunflower fields planted at Forks-of-the-River Wildlife Management Area are spectacular this year. 

The huge composites are pretty to look at but we are not why they are there. The sprawling former farmland is now state-owned and under the care of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The fields are managed to feed wildlife and that's what the sunflowers will do this fall when they all turn to seed. 

According to the ProFlower website, cultivated sunflowers as a food source for people and animals originated in the Americas about 1,000 B.C., and have been cultivated for centuries. "With the European exploration of the New World, the flower’s popularity spread, as the rest of the world began to appreciate its beauty and sustenance." They were made famous by artist Vincent van Gogh, but those flowers planted in Arles, France originated in eastern North America.    

Amy Oakey and Eric Johnson, are the volunteer leaders of the Ijams Hiking Club. We hike once a month. Last Saturday they led a Sunflower Saunter to and around the fields, early in the morning before the intense heat that has been with us for the past couple of weeks.

Needless to say, it was a colorful day.

Thank you, Amy and Eric!

- Stephen Lyn Bales


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

25 "ologists" get their Ijams degrees in Turtle-ology

Last month, on a very hot Tennessee Williams kind of afternoon, 25 people got their degrees in Turtle-ology at Ijams. 

In addition to the Ijams adopted education turtles, we also managed to find several of the shelled reptiles swimming in the river near the greenway. Cooters, sliders or map turtles, it was hard to tell, the distance too great. But needless to say, in the cool water, they looked more comfortable than we were.

Our -ology programs are great for families and the young-at-heart. If you’ve been to one before, you know there are always fun and animal-themed food. Feel free to bring something to share, or just come partake. Last month we had scaly turtle snacks! (See below.)

Sunday, July 17, 2 p.m. 
Cicad-Academy at Ijams
The next -ology in the series is Cicad-Academy, all about the species of cicadas, katydids and crickets that sing and creeeeaaaaak in summer. The two hour class is Sunday. July 17 at 2 p.m. Space is limited; to register call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chinese students studying at UT visit Ijams

Local fitness expert Missy Kane led a group of visiting Chinese college students to Ijams last week. 

The students from Shanghai University of Sport (SUS) were in this country taking classes at the English Language Institute (ELI). The group is hosted in Knoxville by UT professor Rob Hardin. His department (Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies) is providing a Sports Studies Seminar for the 14 students and 2 faculty. 

One of the classes was outdoor recreation. They visited Ijams and met two of our educational animals then Missy Kane led the group on a hike to the sunflower fields at Forks-of-the-River WMA. 

Welcome to Ijams and Tennessee!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ijams Hiking Club conquers new ground & sky bridge

Led by volunteer hike leaders Amy Oakey and Eric Johnson the Ijams Hiking Club explored new ground. On a hot Sunday afternoon, the group hiked from Ijams Mead’s Quarry through Victor Ashe Park to Baker Creek. The last part of the 5.03 trek was along a new trail that features the walking bridge over Red Bud Road.

The bridge itself and Red Bud Crest Trail have only recently been opened. The pedestrian bridge was funded by private donations and a grant from REI.  

Knoxville’s own REI store awarded the $10,000 Community Grant to Legacy Parks Foundation and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club to build the sky bridge in South Knoxville connecting the new Wood property to the greater Urban Wilderness South Loop trail system.

Watch for notice of the Ijams Hiking Club's July outing. For an account of our May hike, click: AC/DC.

Thanks, Amy and Eric!

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Photos by Amy Oakey.

Hike co-leader Eric Johnson describes the route to Baker Creek.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ijams Family Nature Club meets for aquatics workshop

The 2016 Family Nature Club met last Sunday for their class and outdoor workshop on Aquatic Life. The seven families and  senior naturalist (the one with the gray beard) explored the Plaza Pond and Toll Creek looking for frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, newts, crawdads (are females called craw-moms?), fish, aquatic spiders, water striders and insect larva such as dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, stoneflies, to name a few.

I offered a shiny new dime to anyone that found my favorite, the charismatic dobsonfly larva, commonly called a hellgrammite, but none were caught.

It was a very hot afternoon, and the best place to be was in knee-deep or for some of the junior naturalists, chest-deep cold creek water, where we found tray fulls of aquatic life. 

"Family Nature Club at Ijams has been a tremendous experience for all of us," writes Sue Goodall, the founding force behind the club.  "For any family that has ever questioned whether their kids might have what has been described as 'nature deficit disorder,' Ijams has the solution.  Substantial programming, full of information for all ages, taught by experts.  It's a perfect program."

Her son Judah adds, "Being in nature just makes learning more fun."

"Ijams Family Nature Club is an extension of our great times we have at Ijams," emails Sara McNally. "My children have been attending programs for years here as well as we occasionally get a chance to come to some of the mini nature programs. The family club though allows us all to be together learning and exploring. It also is scheduled family time, which is nice in this busy world we live in! So far it has been a fantastic experience and I look forward to the rest of the weeks to come!"

Family Nature Club consists of seven classes each covering a different nature topic plus a season ending canoe trip on the river. The classes are either Saturday or Sunday afternoons for parents or grandparents with their junior naturalist partners.  For information or to register for the 2017 edition, call Lauren at (865) 577-4717, ext. 135. 

And thanks to the junior naturalists (B.K.U.), the Best Kids in the Universe, for making the day so memorable. You know who you are.

For a look at our first meeting of the year, click: Birds. 

And our April meeting was also covered by the media, click: News-Sentinel

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Photos by Linda Knott and Sara McNally.

Kids being kids, exploring nature: newts, bugs and polliwogs

Damselfly and dragonfly nymphs

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Outdoor Adventure Camp began this week at Ijams

Summer is officially here because our Outdoor Adventure Camp began this week. That's eight weeks of activity-packed, fun-filled sessions of educational, environmental and outdoor activities. Wow! 

Roughly 60 kids a day for 40 days. Outside in the sun and water and fresh air where kids belong in summer.

Each week a different theme for campers ages 5 through 14. Most of the camps are full, but there are a few openings left.

WBIR Live@5@4 reporter Emily Stroud caught up with busy Camp Director Jennifer Roder today, outside with the kids having fun at Mead's Quarry Lake and Toll Creek

For Emily's report, click: Live@5@4

For more information, click: Outdoor Adventure Camp.

-Stephen Lyn Bales, text & photos 

One of our favorite campers with Jen Roder, Camp Director