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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Register early for Summer Day Camps

Spring has sprung at Ijams Nature Center and summer is just around the corner! We have a full line-up of fantastic programs for students entering grades K-6. Each week features a different topic and is designed for a specific age group. If you are looking for a fun and engaging way to encourage your children to explore the outdoors, check out Ijams Nature Center's Day Camp programs. From bugs and blooms to frogs and forests, Nature Day Camps are designed to immerse campers in exploring the natural world around them.

Through a combination of art, crafts, outdoor exploration and nature games, we hope to inspire the budding naturalist in each of our participants. 

For a full listing of camp descriptions and registration information, be sure to visit our website at DAY CAMPS.

For more information or to register for  Nature Day Camp, please call Kara at (865) 577-4717 ext. 115 or email Kara

Kara Remington 
- Kara Remington, educator/naturalist

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tree Board celebrates Arbor Day at Ijams

First Lutheran School performs "Tale of Three Trees"

In honor of Arbor Day, the City of Knoxville's Tree Board hosted a celebration at Ijams today to celebrate our leafy friends, the trees. The celebration featured students from Carter Elementary and First Lutheran School, who entertained the group with two skits, "The Tree Song", and "A Tale of Three Trees." These students showed, through song and dance, how important trees really are; they are beautiful, they help the environment, and they are very useful for people everywhere. 

The Tree Board also presented awards to organizations that have been very helpful in promoting and preserving tree life in the area. The first award went to the City of Knoxville for being a Tree City USA, which recognizes the Knoxville's efforts to encourage tree growth throughout the city. The next award went to KUB for its efforts in balancing the needs of trees and people in the area.

The celebration wrapped up with a presentation of the Arbor Day poster contest awards. This year's theme featured the motto "Trees are Terrific and Energy-Wise," and the posters of the three winners demonstrated the theme beautifully.

Arbor Day is a global celebration founded in 1872 in Nebraska, a day for people worldwide to plant and care for trees. It is estimated that over a million trees were planted on the very first Arbor Day, and countless trees have been planted since. Whether through organizations or individual effort, millions of trees are being supported each Arbor Day.

So what are you waiting for? Go plant a tree!

- Text and photos by Katie Aucott, Ijams' AmeriCorps member

Carter Elementary School performs "The Tree Song"

Arbor Day Poster Contest Winners: Left to Right: Second Place-Luis Rojas, Inskip Elementary School,
Third Place: Lindsey Schoepke, Christian Academy of Knoxville
and First Place-Vanessa Warden, Bonny Kate Elementary School

First Place Poster Contest Winner Vanessa Warden (right) and her art teacher Tiffany Eng-Szakacs (left)
Bonny Kate Elementary School

East Tennessee District Forester Ted Dailey presents Tree City USA award to the City of Knoxville

East Tennessee District Forester Ted Dailey presents Tree Line USA award to KUB

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Native Carolina rose in bloom near Visitor Center

The native Carolina rose (Rosa Carolina), also called pasture rose, as perfect and beautiful as a flower can be, is now in bloom in front of the Raptor Enclosure just west of the Visitor Center.

Celebrate Earth Day by admiring the beauty around you. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Original Homesite terrace getting renovations

Stonework at Ijams Homesite: pictured Johnny Strevel, Johnny Strevel Jr.,
Warren Bryant and Ben Nanny.

Renovations to the homesite terrace gardens are underway.  Ijams staff is currently assisting Johnny Strevel and his son, Johnny Strevel Jr, with the construction of a stone wall to match the existing walls.  This new stone wall will help tie the site together and make an aesthetically pleasing location for weddings and small events. 

Johnny is an incredibly gifted stone mason and regular visitor to Ijams.  He also constructed the stone steps at the keyhole and rock bridge.  He worked in the quarry and so did his grandfather and he has a wealth of knowledge about the area. One of the most incredible aspects of Johnny’s work is his ability to create something that instantly looks as though it is a century old. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a craftsman to volunteer his time and hard work so selflessly.

According to Johnny, the style of wall that is laid at the homesite is known as old smokey mountain and it is unique because of the gaps and voids between some of the stones.  On the existing walls, these voids have become home to small ferns, moss, and even some columbine. 

- Story by Ben Nanny  

Keystone Bridge steps

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New lighting reduces Ijams energy usage

New donated energy efficient LED outdoor light in plaza

Sustainability Report #2

As part of the City of Knoxville Sustainability Plan to reduce energy usage in public buildings, Ijams worked with Ameresco, a company that helps organizations with comprehensive energy management solutions that both save money and create greener businesses.

Ameresco changed our fluorescent lighting from 32 watt to 28 watt ballast and bulbs. In addition, they installed low volume flush valves on the toilets and aerators on the faucets to reduce our overall water usage.

In the parking lot, they installed new light fixtures that use 25 watt LED to replace the old standard 250 watt fixtures.

On the front plaza at the Visitors Center, we replaced the light fixture with a new LED fixture donated by Jack O'Hanlon.

Ijams Nature Center has a Sustainability Committee chaired by Dennis Hunter. For more information click Sustainability at Ijams

- By Ed Yost

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ijams: A great place to bring a camera

Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Ijams is a great place to bring a camera at any time of the year, but especially in the spring. Wildflowers are blooming, birds are singing and everything is lush and green once again.

Chuck Cooper visited last week and sent us this photo of our captive red-tailed hawk. Isn't she a beauty?

Thanks, Chuck.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Friday, April 13, 2012

Annual River Rescue attracts over 900 volunteers

Full dumpster upstream from downtown Knoxville at Gov. Ned McWherter Park

The 23rd annual River Rescue, coordinated by Ijams Nature Center, was held two weeks ago. The annual event cleans up public shorelines from Ijams downstream along the Tennessee and Clinch Rivers at Knoxville, Melton Hill, Norris and Watts Bar plus a few urban streams. (Some of these small waterways were the most heavily trashed!)

Although all the numbers are not in yet, this year's River Rescue attracted at least 976 volunteers who picked up more than 1669 bags of trash weighing roughly 27,267 pounds and at least 454 tires from over 50 locations.

Special thanks to the Water Quality Forum, CAC AmeriCorps and the hundreds of people who helped make our local rivers and streams look picturesque once again.

And thank you sponsors: Green Mountain Coffee, Mast General Store, Chaco, First Tennessee Foundation, Kimberly-Clark, Erie Insurance, TVA Employees Credit Union and EarthFare.

Below are a small sampling of photos taken that day.

- Photos and text by Stephen Lyn Bales

Jake Hudson (with Peg Beute) unloads one of over 450 tires collected this year.
Sabrina DeVault proudly models this year's River Rescue t-shirt 
properly accessorized with bags o' trash. 
Volunteer Alma Holland and her haul along the shoreline at Marine Park. 
Boatman David Stair and Jessica, Rosa and Josh, three volunteers 
who cleaned up Looney Island.
Some of over 14 tons of collected trash.
Ijams staffer Kara Remington and Josh Rowe, one of over 900 volunteers.  
Volunteers worked remote shorelines with the aid of Capt. John Farmer
Left to right: Sabrina, Kara, AmeriCorps' Courtney Washburn, Lynn Miller 
and Peg modeling three years of River Rescue t-shirts. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Author Harry Moore leads Geology WalkAbout at Ijams

Harry Moore at geologic fold located in the Chapman Ridge Formation on the River Trail

Special thanks to retired geologist and UT Press author Harry Moore for leading our Geology WalkAbout last Saturday. Our tour began at the Visitor Center, moved down the River Trail east to the sandstone cliff at the boardwalk, paused at the geologic fold and ended at the old Ross Marble Quarry site, with a stop at Meads Quarry Lake.

Along the way we learned that four layers of rock underlie Ijams Nature Center. Beginning west at the homesite and going east to Toll Creek, the four exposed formations are Ottosee, Chapman Ridge, Holston and Lenoir. The industrial grade limestone marketed under the name Tennessee Marble was found in the Holston Formation. Both Meads and Ross Marble Quarries were located along this gray-to-pink layer of rock.

Books by Harry Moore:

A Roadside Guide to the Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Geologic Trip across Tennessee: Interstate 40

Discovering October Roads: Fall Colors and Geology in Rural East Tennessee, with Fred Brown

The Lonely Road: Ultimate Sacrifices

with Alice Ann Richardson Moore

- Text and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales

Geology WalkAbouts at Ijams

Monday, April 9, 2012

Story time at Ijams every Thursday in April

Lynn reads the 1936 classic tale The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Join Ijams volunteer Lynn Keffer for story time every Thursday in April. Each reading will include an age appropriate craft. The program is free, but a donation would be nice.

Thursday, April 12, 1 p.m.
It's the 1993 tale of a Chinese couple that lives in the shadow of a problematic mountain
Ming Lo Moves the Mountain written by Arnold Lobel.

Thursday, April 19, 1 p.m.
It's the Caldecott Award winning children's book
Inch by Inch by Leon Lionni. It's the story of a green inchworm proud of his kills at measuring everything. Every inch of this book is a classic.

Thursday, April 26, 1 p.m.
And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. Originally published in 1937, it was the first of 46 children's books written by Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. 

Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Nesting swallows return to Universal Trail

Tree swallows, (Tachycineta bicolor), are once again nesting in the artificial gourds near the TVA-KUB solar panels on the Universal Trail.

Tree swallows are migratory, spending their winters in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, but historically they nested in the western part of this country. Tree swallow nesting in the Tennessee Valley, and even our state, is a fairly recent occurrence.

According to Chuck Nicholson, author of the Atlas of Breeding Bird of Tennessee, published by UT Press, the first recorded tree swallow nest in Tennessee was discovered in 1918 at Reelfoot Lake. It wasn’t until 1968 that other nests were documented, this time in Anderson and Maury Counties. After that, nests have been reported every year and since the late 1980s, the nesting population has increased dramatically. Today, they’re fairly common throughout the state.

Tree swallows nest in empty cavities, hollow trees, bluebird boxes or even real or artificial gourds. Unlike their cousins, the colony-loving purple martins, the dark metallic blue backed tree swallows prefer to build their nests isolated from other swallows.

- Text and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Morning toddle provides moment of extreme cuteness

Ijams is for all ages!

Sometimes a photo presents itself that is so cute, all the photographer has to do is focus, squeeze the shutter button and hope he doesn't drop the camera.

Pictured above is Mead Montessori School out for their morning nature toddle at Ijams. Eleven wee-ones out to explore the brave new world.

Did I say extreme cuteness?

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Author Harry Moore to lead Geology Walk

Harry Moore
Retired state geologist, Harry Moore

What are the rock formations under Ijams? Join us and find out.

On Saturday, April 7 at 2 pm, retired state geologist Harry L. Moore will lead a Geology WalkAbout to the quarry properties. 

Moore grew up in the area and knows the rock formations under the nature center very well. He is also the author of A Roadside Guide to the Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkGeologic Trip Across Tennessee: Interstate 40 and The Bone Hunters, all published by UT Press. 

To register for Harry's walk and talk call: 577-4717, ext. 110. 

- Stephen Lyn Bales