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.