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

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ijams graduates a new class of certified spider-ologists!

The Sunday afternoon Ologists gathered a week ago for their monthly meeting. The topic was Spider-ology 101

After a short indoor class on the eight legged Arachnids with appropriate spider-themed food snacks, we ventured outside for our biological field work.

Green lynx spider
Coolest spider of the day was a mother green lynx spider caught by Lisa and correctly IDed by Jackson. We know she was a mom because she was covered with tiny spiderlings. 

And once again Jacob proved he can catch anything.

Jackson, Phia, Jessika, Kierra, Judah, Asha, Rachel, Riley, Jacob, Abby, Cayden and Asher all earned their degrees in spider-ology. They all know what a cephalothorax is. Good job!

Since 1968 Ijams Nature Center has been a safe place for parents and their junior naturalists to explore nature together.

Next month it's Hawk-ology 101 (hawks, falcons, eagles), Sunday, Nov. 20!

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Supplied photos by Linda Knott.

Spider hairdo

What's the deal about spiders?  They are delicious.
Spiders have eight eyes, as do some girls!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Don't miss spider-ology 101 tomorrow at Ijams

We will be looking for you.

Yesterday afternoon was our third Invertebrates Class for the Ed-Ventures home school families. After a short indoor formal class on insects, spiders and myriapods we did outside biological field work with swept nets and little cups to hold our catches and we found more arachnids than any other group.

WBIR Live@5@4 reporter Emily Stroud dropped by Ijams to check out the activity and talk about our upcoming Spider-ology 101 class open to the public scheduled for 2 p.m. tomorrow. To register call 577-4717, ext. 110. Fee: $5 for Ijams members, $8 for non-members. Children under three are free.

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

Rumor has it that Emily actually touched a tarantula. Here is her WBIR report. Click: http://www.wbir.com/news/local/five-at-four/ijams-nature-center-spiders-class/339976227

Thank you to all!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Nothing brings a bigger smile like catching a really cool bug.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Girl Scouts become Animal Detectives for a day

Who killed Bruce "Bring the Funk" Skunk?


Cue the theme music from TV's "Dragnet.

There's been a murder most foul...smelling. 

Local Girl Scouts met at Ijams last Sunday for an Animal Detectives badge workshop.

They learned about their own fingerprints and animal tracks, messages in bird songs, dissected regurgitated owl pellets to look for the remains of rodential victims—mouse bones and skulls—and had to solve a crime: who killed Bruce "Bring the Funk" Skunk. There were three prime predator suspects. But who who who did it?

For 93 years, since the days of H.P and Alice Ijams, Girl Scouts have been coming to badge workshops at our South Knoxville location.

Thank you Jennifer for creating such a fun and investigative workshop curriculum and Ashlind for helping solve the crime.

-Stephen Lyn Bales

Meet arch, simple loop, simple loop, arch, arch.


Take home bag of bones
Crime scene photo. Don't look. 

Ashlind reads the case file of the first suspect: Shakespeare "The Bard" Owl
Or could it have been Robert "Bob" Cat?
The detectives ponder the clues.

We got our badges!