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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

TN Naturalists@Ijams class of 2017 begin their year

The 2017 edition of TN Naturalists@Ijams held their introductory meeting last Saturday. This is the fifth year the statewide program has been taught at Ijams.

In all, it's 12 classes held once or twice a month until November. The natural science topics cover such subjects as geology, reptiles, amphibians, birds, trees, fungi, mammals and ferns.

After students finish the 40 hours of classes and the required 40 hours of volunteer work, they become certified Tennessee Naturalists.

The classes always include hours of outdoor learning. On our initial stroll through the park to the original Ijams Homesite, we discovered that Virginia bluebells, bloodroot and trout lily were blooming and all the ponds were newt friendly, or filled with newts being friendly. We also found chorus frog eggs and learned that both redbud and red buckeye were beginning to bloom. The latter is an indication that hummingbirds are almost back into the valley.

April's class will be on Ferns & Flowers.

- Supplied photos by naturalist student and commercial photographer Kristy Keel-Blackmon.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Eagle Scout project tackles invasive aliens!

Ijams Nature Center salutes Nathaniel Smith! His Eagle Scout Project for Boy Scout Troop 213 is to remove highly invasive aliens, namely English ivy, from 1/10 acre of land at the original Ijams homesite. The plot is located in the western portion of the nature center's property along the Serendipity Trail. 

Saturday, March 11, twenty-two scouts and assorted parents removed the bulk of alien ivy. Last Saturday, Nathaniel along with his parents Jennifer and Kerry came back to work the plot again. It's an on going project with a little more ivy to remove over the next few weeks.

This area is also prime habitat for barred owls. Nathaniel also made two nest boxes for them

Ijams' new executive director Amber Parker has declared war on the invasive plants—English ivy, privet, bush honeysuckle and kudzu—that have overtaken large portions of our 300-plus acre wildlife sanctuary. 

Once the invasive non-native plants are eradicated, native wildflowers and animals will return. Amber vows to reclaim Ijams, returning it to its natural state. And her will be done!

- Stephen Lyn Bales. Supplied photos by Kerry Smith.


Thank you Kerry, Jennifer and Nathaniel Smith and all of Troop 213

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The "kids" in us all had fun at Cloud-ology 101

Our "ology" classes are for kids, young families and the young-at-heart. Last Sunday was Cloud-ology 101. We learned ten different cloud types and how they got their names, created a cloudy rain storm in a jar and on a perfectly cloudless day assumed the guise of a cloud and went outside to fly balsa airplanes.

Old School fun? You bet, and we have been doing it since the 1920s. At Ijams kids get to unplug and be kids. We even give adults license to be 8-year-olds again.

We specialize in empowering young girls (and boys), encouraging their science-loving minds. H.P. and Alice Ijams raised four daughters on the site in the 1920s - '40s long before we were a nature center. And they taught Elizabeth, Jo, Mary and Martha to love nature.

Our next ology is Froggy-ology 101 on Sunday, April 9 at 2 o'clock. And our ponds should be full of frogs, tadpoles and newts. To register call 577-4717, ext. 110.

Cumulus cloud roots on her old-school airplane
Did funnel cloud's plane do a loop-the-loop?
It's beginning to rain in my jar

Monday, March 13, 2017

Visiting AmeriCorps River Team 7 works to improve Toll Creek

Why do folks throw junk in our stream? 

Last Friday, the visiting AmeriCorps NCCC River 7 Team did a last swept of Toll Creek on the eastern boundary of our property. Completing the work started by Ben and Jack last fall, the group removed new trash and old embedded junk that still remained.

AmeriCorps does worthy projects like this all around the country. Team 7 has been with Ijams Nature Center for over a month doing special environmental restoration projects and invasive plant removal that the nature center does not have staff to accomplish. After a couple more weeks with Ijams, they move on to West Virginia.

Toll Creek was once a heavily impacted urban stream that flowed through an industrial site, now it is far more picturesque, just in time for summer camps. 

Ijams' caps off to Wade, Nolia, Julie, Gary, Trevor, Kyle and especially Renzo Quevedo and Toni Vasquez for spending considerable time digging out an old tire that was underwater and almost completely buried by sediment.