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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Local Girl Scouts earn drawing badges at Ijams

A group of local young Girl Scouts finished the requirements for their Drawing badge at Ijams yesterday. We didn't let the rain interfere with our activities.

Ijams has been hosting local Girl Scouts for over 90 years, since the days of H.P. and Alice Ijams and their daughters: Elizabeth, Jo, Mary and Martha. All four were Girl Scouts.

Monday, January 9, 2017

TN Naturalists @ Ijams April class covered Tennessee trees

American beech (Fagus grandifolia)

It's time for some housekeeping. We need to catch up on some of the fun things we did in 2016, but didn't have time to report. You know—busy, busy, busy. Nature has its pulses and winter is a time to rest and reflect.
The 2016 class of the TN Naturalist @ Ijams met in April for their third in a series of 13 classes.

With the trees leafing out, and the lush green canopy returning to the nature center it was a good time to discuss Tennessee trees including the ever present American beech seen above.

We walked the Ijams Arboretum Trail in search of the 30-plus species found along the way. 

This was the fourth year that Ijams has been involved in this state-wide program. In addition to the 40 hours of classes, students must put in 40 hours of volunteer work at Ijams or elsewhere. After all the classes and volunteer requirements are met, the students become certified Tennessee Naturalists. 

Our first meeting in March, click: Introduction.

All photos by Rex McDaniel

The pawpaws were blooming


Sunday, January 8, 2017

The snow is melting and we are open. Come on down!

Cabin fever? 

Well come on by and pay us a visit this afternoon. The trails are snowy but walkable, there's ice sculptures everywhere and our gonzo naturalist works Sundays. Today, he will be hosting Chat-Abouts with some of our education animals.

Photo by Chuck Cooper
Speaking of that, what kind of snake is this? What does it eat? Where does it live? Why is it so pale?

Stop by the Visitor Center and find out. We are open until 5 o'clock.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ijams Family Nature Club meets to talk rocks & rolls (folds)

The boardwalk on the River Trail is mounted into the exposed cliff of the 
Chapman Ridge formation of sandstone. 

It's time for some housekeeping. We need to catch up on some of the fun things we did in 2016, but didn't have time to report. You know—busy, busy, busy. Nature has its pulses and winter is a time to rest and reflect.

The geologic fold towers over us on the River Trail.
Photo by Sara McNally (Lucy and Josie's mom)
On a chilly day in November, the Ijams Family Nature Club met to talk about geology, namely Tennessee rocks and the geological formations found at the nature center. It was the last meeting of the 2016 season and the dreary conditions kept our numbers down. But rocks are not as capricious as birds, they are there no matter the weather.

We bundled up and walked from the west end to the east end, from the Ijams Homesite along the boardwalk on the River Trail to Ross Marble Quarry and the Keyhole. Along the way we passed over four sedimentary rock* formations—all Ordovician** in origin—that make up the bedrock of our 300 acres: Ottosee shale, Chapman Ridge sandstone, Holston limestone and finally to the edge of the Lenior formation of crumbly, silty limestone visible above ground as outcroppings along the old railroad track at Mead's.

Family Nature Club is designed for kids and their parents to experience various natural science topics together. For information about the FNC classes for 2017, contact Lauren at 577-4717, ext. 135.

For a look back on other 2016 Family Nature Club classes, click:

          Aquatics class

          • Birding class

          • Invertebrates class

* "Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the deposition and subsequent cementation of that material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water."

** "The Ordovician Period lasted almost 45 million years, beginning 488.3 million years ago and ending 443.7 million years ago. During this period, the area north of the tropics was almost entirely ocean, and most of the world's land was collected into the southern supercontinent Gondwana."

- Stephen Lyn Bales, naturalist

The Lenior Formation is only above ground at Ijams along the old quarry railroad track. 
Huge chunks of quarried limestone from the Holston Formation at Ross Marble Quarry

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Seasoned greetings from the staff at Ijams

Startled, they looked towards the flock of crows to the west completely ignoring the man 
with the camera hidden in the bushes behind them.

Happy Holidays:
 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
from the staff at Ijams.

Spend time with family, someone you love, 
and/or go outside into nature. She'll always comfort you.  
And if you are very lucky, you might encounter 
a trio of well seasoned, Yule log-deers.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

(Editor's note: 2016 was so wonderfully busy, 
I didn't have time to blog about everything we did. 
Several things went unposted, 
so I will use the first few weeks of 2017 to catch up. 
Peace to you.)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ijams ongoing river cleanup gets well deserved coverage

Photo by Mike Steely for The Knoxville Focus

Some people come to work and do their jobs quietly, they draw little attention to themselves, they are unsung heroes. 

At Ijams, that description fits Jake Hudson and this year, AmeriCorps member Lauren Parker who are out on the river weekly doing cleanups of trash to keep the shorelines along downtown Knoxville looking tidy. 

This week Jake and Lauren got a little media attention from reporter Mike Steely in The Knoxville Focus.

Click: River cleanup

Well deserved, Jake and Lauren!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ijams Ed-Ventures homeschoolers complete third workshop

Hey. What ya lookin' at?

Three sessions of our third Ed-Ventures @ Ijams homeschool classes were held last month. We focused on the ornithology, namely backyard songbirds.

In all there are eight natural science topics that will be covered during the 2016-17 school year. In October it was entomology, i.e insects.

After a short indoor formal class on backyard birds, we moved outdoors for our biological fieldwork with binoculars. As a rule, birds do not hold still or come close. We looked for the basic dozen songbirds that are routinely seen around our homes: wrens, robins, cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, blue jays, etc. 

This upcoming month we turn our attention to geology: rocks and minerals.

Ijams Nature Center has been connecting kids and their parents with nature since 1968.

- Stephen Lyn Bales, your birdy host

Was that a Carolina wren or a song sparrow? It was brown, did anyone get a good look?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Girls Outside with Ijams: A hike celebrating the best of fall

Last Sunday, nine girls and three women guides explored Ijams together on a lovely fall afternoon with Girls Outside (G.O.) with Ijams. 

After getting to know each other and a quick refresher on the principles of "Leave No Trace," we hit the trail. The girls enjoyed a snack break along the river, sunning like lizards on large boulders, and trying out a little nature obstacle course located along the greenway. While on the boardwalk, the girls spotted a bald eagle soaring over the Tennessee River, its white head and tail gleaming brilliantly in the autumn sunshine.

We were joined on the hike by two members of the Abby Gibson Memorial Foundation, and so we took a few minutes at the end of the hike to honor Abby, a girl who loved animals and the outdoors, by planting milkweed seeds in the meadow near Jo's Grove. The girls knew a lot already about why milkweed is important for monarch butterflies. 

Next summer when the girls return, they can look for the flowers from their scattered seeds and remember their fall hike!

This is G.O. with Ijams second hike since announcing our new partnership. Look for our next G.O. with Ijams hikes starting up again in early 2017!

- Kelly Sturner, Girls Outside with Ijams Founding Partner and Hike Leader

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Ijams Ed-Ventures home-schoolers complete second workshop

Our second Ed-Ventures @ Ijams homeschool class sessions held last month focused on the Invertebrates: insects, spiders and myriapods (centipedes and millipedes). 

In all there are eight natural science topics that will be covered during the 2016-17 school year. In October it was entomology.

After a short indoor formal class, we moved outdoors for our biological fieldwork with swept nets and little cups to hold our catches. Every student caught something to be proud of be it grasshopper, cricket or spider. OK, there was one wasp, caught by a Mom, and we were very very careful with it. We don't mess with the Hymenopterans, i.e. those with stingers.

This upcoming week we turn our attention to the birds for the future ornithologists in the classes, followed by geology in December.

Ijams Nature Center has been connecting kids and their parents with nature since 1968.

- Stephen Lyn Bales, your buggy host

And one reptile managed to stroll in to garner our attention