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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Teachable moments happen every day at Ijams

"It melts in your hand!"

When you are an educator, out on a trail with a group of kids, you are constantly searching for the unexpected. "Teachable moments" as we call them. 

This morning, Ijams/AmeriCorps educator Lauren Bird was outside with a group of kids here on a Parents Day Out Camp. They soon found the ribbons of beautifully sculpted frost growing low to the ground from the stems of plants.

"It looks like Styrofoam,"  said one of the girls near the front of the line. "But it melts in your hand!"

"These are called frost flowers," said Lauren. 

When the water inside an old wingstem or crownbeard plant begins to freeze and expand, the stem splits and the rapidly freezing water is extruded, creating beautiful fine wispy thin layers of ice. They often are formed into exquisite patterns that curl into petals that remind some people of flowers. Others call the icy phenomenon "frost breads" or "hair frost."  Frost flowers tend to form on windless, cold nights.

Frost flowers are as ephemeral as they are beautiful.

Ijams has been a place for urban kids to learn about nature in a safe, structured environment for 90 years (1923-2013).

- Story and photo: Stephen Lyn Bales   

Ice flower that melt away as soon as the sun melts it

Friday, November 29, 2013

Breakfast is served this Saturday at Ijams

Thanksgiving is over, but if you are coming to Ijams this Saturday morning for a program, hike or simple walkabout, bring your appetite.

Peg the Cooker
Our very own green-thumb/favorite cook Peg Beute will be serving breakfast. This week it's hot-from-the-oven biscuits, gravy and sausage with jam, jelly, apple butter or honey, plus fresh fruit, coffee or tea. 

All proceeds from Peg's Kitchen go to the Ijams education department and our programs that let urban kids experience nature. 

Come hungry as I usually do. 

 - Stephen Lyn

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Ijams!

The wild turkey specimen on display in the Ijams Exhibit Hall joins the entire staff in wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. Please enjoy the warm company of your family.

Through a spokesman, the turkey related that it would also like to thank you for not eating him. He reminds us that he is only a museum specimen, pretty dry and tasteless, really more dedicated to educational purposes than sating anyone's appetite.

- Many thanks, find something to be thankful for, Stephen Lyn Bales.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Donate to help us care for our many education animals

Last week, it was sunny and pleasant. And there's nothing a turkey vulture likes more than sunning itself, unless it's a roadkill raccoon.

Plus, vultures are highly intelligent and curious, easily bored. Dr. Louise Conrad took our vulture out for a change of scenery and a little time in the sun.

Why is she here? Zoe was hit by a truck in Western North Carolina and rehabbed at the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge. She eventually healed but needed a home. I wrote an article about her change of fortune for The Hellbender Press just after she arrived at Ijams. 

She's now an education animal, part of the Education Department. We use her to talk about the unique role vultures and other decomposers have in nature. 

She's lived with us in an enclosure near the parking lot for over seven years. Quiet and peaceful. Can you see the smile in the above photo? Well, actually I think they both are smiling.

The vulture eats three mice a day at a cost of about $1.50 per. If you would like to to donate money for Animal Care at Ijams and help us feed our many educational animals—birds, turtles, snakes, fish, mudpuppy, frogs—call Jill (865) 577-4717, ext. 123. Specify Animal Care

- Text and photo, Stephen Lyn Bales 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Letters from the kids at Belle Morris Elementary

Just in case you cannot read the above handwritten letter, fifth-grader Jacob writes in part, "Dear, Ms. Sabrina....That was the best tour I would probably ever be on."

Ijams' educator Sabrina DeVault would add that Mrs. Daniels' fifth grade class from Belle Morris Elementary was an equally amazing and awesome group of students. 

All grade levels have their own innate charms. Fifth-graders are smart and want to go on a long adventure. If we happen to find an alligator—which, of course, we never do—that's just great. We generally find owls, squirrels, chipmunks, frogs, turtles and snakes in season. But it is always an adventure.  

And Jacob. The last time I fed the turkey vulture, I told her that, "Jacob said hello!"

- Stephen Lyn Bales 

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Greenhouse and Garden Site dedicated to Alice Ijams

Ribbon cutting for new Alice's Garden demonstration site

 On Saturday November 9, Ijams dedicated a new Greenhouse and outdoor classroom in honor of Alice Ijams.

Alice was a talented lady by any standards. In her day, she was one of Knoxville’s leading ladies, a Girl Scout Ambassador and a leader of the local Garden Club Movement. She was also the owner of local Southside Nursery, the first female-run horticultural business in town supplying flowers to merchants on historic Market Square.

Ijams Nature Center was supported in this endeavor by contributions from Alcoa Foundation, Sustainable Future and Rainwater Resources, who supplied funding and sustainable components including rainwater catchment systems, solar power, composting areas, raised beds and visitor interpretation.  The teaching area supports Ijams’ gardening programs for adults, families and youth groups.

Among those cutting the ribbon were Denis Rochat, President, Rainwater Resources; David Bolt, owner Sustainable Future; Karyn Adams, Ijams Board President; and members of the Ijams Family.  Ijams’ Senior Naturalist, Peg Beute was on hand providing demonstrations and highlighted how parts of Alice’s original greenhouse were re-used in the project.

Thanks to all. Paul James, Executive Director

David Bolt, owner of contributing Sustainable Future, speaks at grand opening

Denis Rochat, president of contributing Rainwater Solutions, speaks before ribbon cutting
Karyn Adams, president of Ijams Board of Directors thanks supporters and contributors
Paul James, Ijams executive director with Denis Rochat, Peg Beute and Karyn Adams
The new greenhouse and garden demonstration site is located next to the solar panels on the Universal Trail

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Send our blog your photos: barred owl on North Cove

Barred Owl on North Cove Trail. Photo taken yesterday by Ted Martin with his cell phone.

If you can get this close to a barred owl, you know you have seen something special!

Thanks, Ted!

- Stephen Lyn

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tuesday: “Mountainfilm on Tour” at Bijou supports Ijams

On Tuesday, November 19th, the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance and Horny Toad Clothing will present
“Mountainfilm on Tour” at the Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville.

Through a night of exciting and inspirational films, you will explore cultures, preserve environments, and experience adventure. Proceeds will support 500 days of outdoor education for kids through Ijams Nature Center.

The show starts at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20 for premier seating and $12 general admission. For ticket sales and information, click: Bijou.

About Horny Toad

Born in Telluride, based in Santa Barbara, Horny Toad is an eco-minded active lifestyle clothing brand. Always aiming to do the right thing, the Horny Toad culture is oriented around community, sustainability and looking for new ways to accomplish traditional business goals. To learn more, click: Horny Toad.

About Grassroots Outdoor Alliance 

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance has 45 members with nearly 100 retail locations across the United States. Grassroots unites independent outdoor retailers as a strong voice to protect and promote the experience of outdoor enthusiasts across the United States. To learn more about Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, visit our website, click: Grassroots.

For more information, please contact Mary Thom at 865-577-4717, ext. 117 or email mtadams@ijams.org; or Steve McCann at smccann@hornytoad.com.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jen & Lyn eat bugs at UT. Story at eleven.

Pretend it's eleven!

While it’s true that the majority of the world’s population regularly dines on insects and bugs… it’s an acquired taste that has yet to take hold in North America and Europe. 

Homemade peppered sausage with weevils
Well, the students in the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture made a valiant attempt to change the minds (and palates) of some willing East Tennessee foodies. A veritable smorgasbord of insect fare was presented for the discerning diner. Enchiladas, wontons, stir fry and even homemade sausage were served, each featuring unusual ingredients- insects. My particular favorite was the bug bologna, a homemade sausage, peppered with weevils!

"This is the seventh year for our Buggy Buffet," said UT's Dr. Jerome Grant, Associate Professor of Entomology and Plant Pathology, "and it just keeps getting bigger." (The buffet, not the bugs.)

Hopefully, the idea of insect cuisine doesn’t “bug” you too much, because this six-legged source of protein and vitamins may just be the solution to feeding the planet’s ever-increasing population. After all, it takes a lot less space and money to raise a pound of crickets than a pound of beef. AND they are equally, if not more, nutritious!

So while I did occasionally have to soldier past the feeling of prickly legs in my throat (albeit likely imagined), I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the tasty “grub” presented. And if this is indeed the future of food, then I say “Bon Apetit” or maybe it should be “Bug Apetit!”

- Jennifer Roder

Oh the hor d'oeuvres. A personal favorite: celery, pimento cheese topped with weevils!
And the main course: Check out the stir fry with spicy mealworms. Oh lá lá. Magnifique.  
And who's for dessert? Crickets you say? Yes, cricket cookies. Yum! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Enchanted Day be held at Ijams woods 'n' all

At ye Plaza Pond home o' turtle 'n' froggy, snacking 'n' watching ye Bradys

Ahoy! Ye dread pirate Red Gray Squirrely would lik' to thank all ye mateys who did adventure out t' Enchanted Day at Ijams.

Aye! Ye ponds 'n' woods 'n' buggy house be alive with animals that told thar stories. Thar be ye eight-eyed spiddy, ye Crawla Deen the Butta-fly, ye owl babies, ye froggy (green she was), ye green-faced turtle, 'n' me—an ol' sea-dog pirate squirrel who steals ye birdseed. Arrrrrrr!

All stepped up t' speak ye tongue o' ye people. Tell thar stories good. Stories o' thar survival. Arrrrr! Be true! Woodland critters be a speakin'. Queen's English. Enchanted thar was.

Ye pirate squirrely told ye story o' be 'e treasure o' acorns, walnuts 'n' seeds all pillaged. Booty enough that get 'e through winter. Treasure box full, fittin' enough fer Long John Silver 'imself. Ye be told good 'n' true. As true as a bilge rat pirate can be. Arrrrrrr!

All proceeds—ye pieces of eight—went fer ye education department at nature center. Good folks. Aye, thar talk a lot 'bout ye critters, ye critters turn to speak. 

Thank ye all. Batten down ye hatches cold weather be a comin'. 


- Guest blogger: Dread Pirate Red Gray Squirrely

Shiver me timbers! Ye owl babies takes var peeks

Ye spiddy spins 'er yarn, cast 'er web o' spider teachin's

Ye butta-fly talks 'er supper, 'er grog, 'er eatin's
Ye green-faced turtle shows 'er kin while froggy looks on, but that be what froggies do. 
Ye mildly insane Red Gray Squirrely protects 'e acorn booty from scallywag pirate squirrels like 'imself 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This Saturday, Nov. 9, is Enchanted Day at Ijams

WBIR's Emily Stroud interviewing Peg Beute from Ijams

Saturday, November 9, 
discover the magic of an enchanted day at Ijams! 

1 - 3 p.m. 
Free Animal Programs, Scavenger Hunts, Family Crafts 

2 p.m. 
Celebrate the Grand Opening of Alice’s Greenhouse

3 p.m. 
Enchanted Trail

You and your family will be led along our magical woodland trails where creatures will emerge to share their stories. Along the way, we will meet animals with fascinating adaptations that have taught us humans a thing or two. Fun for all ages! To participate in the Enchanted Trail, visitors must purchase tickets for the guided tours. Tickets are $5 per person for Ijams members and $8 for non-members. Children 2 and under are free. Trail tours leave every 20 minutes, so please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 130 to register for a start time.

For more information and critter hijinks, click: WBIR's Live@5@4

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Powell Environmental Science class visits Ijams

The AP Environmental Science class from Powell High School spent half a day at Ijams last week. The class is taught by Will Roberts

The students spent the morning session with Peg Beute and Sabrina DeVault talking about water quality on a hike that included the River Trail and Toll Creek. 

After lunch, the topic was birds with the Ijams bird guy. The session included a visit to the Lost Species Exhibit—a brief discussion of the passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet and ivory-billed woodpecker—and a walk to the Ijams Homesite with a stop to see the red-tailed hawk. Also along for the outing was Powell teacher Beth Mooney.

Thanks for your visit! 

- Stephen Lyn Bales. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rare Berry Cave Salamander found again in quarry cave

Berry cave salamander Photo taken by Evin Carter, a PhD student at the University of Tennessee.

Matthew Niemiller, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Kentucky Department of Biology knows the caves at Ijams. He has inventoried them before.

Recently, Matt went back into the cave that is gated in Hayworth Hollow in the Ross Marble Natural Area.

Matt emails, "In terms of cave life, we saw three Berry Cave Salamanders, eleven tricolored bats (formerly known as the Eastern pipistrelle), over a dozen Appalachian brook crayfish, cave amphipods, terrestrial cave isopods, several cave millipedes, 
likely are a new population of Scoterpes blountensis, and a cave beetle (most likely an East Tennessee cave beetle (Pseudanophthalmus tennesseensiswas the first record for the cave and a very surprise find."

The Berry cave salamander is "state threatened" and only found in three countries: Knox, Roane and McMinn, which is one reason the caves at Ijams are gated closed. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Autumn at Ijams: a time of beauty, bounty, gluttony

Dogwood in fall at Ijams

At Ijams, autumn is a time of beauty. The sweet gums, the redbuds, the maples and their golds and yellows and reds. And dare I say oranges.

It's also a time of bounty. The natural harvest of acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts, beechnuts, the hard mast that litters the ground. And the soft mast: the pokeberries, the persimmons, the dogwood drupes, the beautyberries. 

This cornucopia leads to another time: a time of gluttony. It's the season to store away a larder for the cold weather to come; the season to fatten up, put on the feedbag, add some paunch, chow down, pig out, loosen your belt

The squirrels at Ijams have been hiding a lot of food, but they have also been chowing down as Rex McDaniel recently discovered. Below is his video:

- Stephen Lyn Bales