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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Wild injured free-roaming turtle taken to vet hospital

Ijams is a nature/environmental education center. But we have also been  a wildlife sanctuary since the 1920s. It is their home and we protect it and them. 

This morning we found one of our prized wild Eastern box turtles with a bashed in top shell (carapace). It appears to be caused by a rock or hammer. He is a wild animal that lives outside year-round in the vicinity of the Visitor Center.

We have seen him from time-to-time for years. His markings are very distinctive.

Our in-house veterinarian, Dr. Louise Conrad, hopes the shell will heal. It's like a broken bone but like any injury, infection can set in. 

Dr. Louise took him to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital. X-rays will determine if there is any internal damage. We will keep you posted.

Thousands of people visit Ijams every year. We love that. Rarely do we find one of our wild animals injured. Over the years we have found a couple of our wild snakes bludgeoned to death. 

Remember, this is their home. Please respect them. Look but don't touch. And certainly don't bash one with a rock.

Who would do such a thing?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Third TN Naturalists@Ijams class looks at trees

 "I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree," wrote poet Joyce Kilmer. And Ijams Nature Center has trees. 

The 2017 edition of TN Naturalists@Ijams held its third class last Saturday.  

This class was devoted to dendrology, i.e. the study of trees.  

TN Naturalists@Ijams graduate Mac Post, PhD taught the class. Since he retired, Mac has been helping Tiffany Beachy with citizen science at the Great Smokies Institute at Tremont and he oversees the phenology plots at Ijams. 

"Mac was great," said student Lauren Bird. "The class kept asking odder and odder questions about trees and Mac had an answer for every one of them."  

With the off and on rain, it was a fulfilling day to be a tree and a damp day to study trees. 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. After students finish the 40 hours of classes and the required 40 hours of volunteer work, they become certified Tennessee Naturalists.

The first May class focuses on mammals.

For a look back at our previous classes, click:

- Supplied photos by naturalist student and commercial photographer 
Kristy Keel-Blackmon. Thank you, Kristy!


Red Oak


Thursday, April 20, 2017

EdVentures@Ijams homeschool jr naturalists study trees

Standing under the boughs of a Southern magnolia originally planted by the Ijams family at their homesite, EdVentures@Ijams homeschool naturalists work on their tree identification skills. 

The students started a basic leaf collection of some of the most common trees. With the help of their teacher/parents they will add to their collections at home.

Ijams works in league with the parents. Nature study works best when it's repeated outdoor lessons with homework in with their parent/teachers. We start the spark and the parent/teachers flame the internal fires of learning the various natural sciences: 
ornithology, entomology, herpetology, geology. etc. Today it was dendrology, the study of trees.

Young nature students have been coming to the Ijams Homesite since the Girl Scout day camps that began the summer of 1923.

Thanks to all the teacher/parents and to co-leaders Ijams naturalists: AmeriCorps' Ashlind Koskela and Christie Collins.

- Supplied photos by Teacher/Mom Cheri Hall.

Teacher/Mom Cheri spotted a barred owl

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

EdVentures@Ijams home-schooled classes search the ponds

Ijams is, what it always was...the best place for kids to connect with nature. 

See it. Touch it. Hear it. 

In late March we held three amphibian classes in our EdVentures@Ijams series for home-schooled kids and their parent/teachers. (One teacher/Mom and her students actually drove from Athens to be part of the EdVenture.)

After an indoor formal class on the uniqueness of amphibians, their habitat requirements and their special place in the environment, the junior naturalists explored three different ponds at the nature center and found oodles of Eastern red-spotted newts (Good old Notophthalmus viridescens). We're like a comic-con for the finned-tailed salamanders. And our master critter-catcher Jacob from Kingston caught two giant spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum).

The two yellow-spotted salamanders were the biggest things we found. Wow! They were whoppers!  

Junior naturalists have been coming to Ijams for decades to connect to the peace and tranquility of the real world (as opposed to the violence of today's virtual world.) It all began with day camps for Girl Scouts on the property of H.P. and Alice Ijams in the summer of 1923. Jacob caught the two spotted salamanders in the same pond that the Ijams cow used to drink from, talk about legacy.

This was the fifth in a series of eight classes. Next month the homeschoolers learn about trees. In May it's reptiles.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

- Supplied photos by Teacher/Mom Cheri Hall

Monday, April 10, 2017

TN Naturalists@Ijams second class was blooming

The 2017 edition of TN Naturalists@Ijams held its second class last Saturday.  

Amber Parker
This class was devoted to wildflowers and it was the first class at Ijams lead by our new executive director Amber Parker. Before she came to the nature center, Amber was executive director of the Chincoteague Bay Field Station at Wallops Island, Va. But her background is solidly rooted in environmental education. Before she jumped into the administrative side she was once the education director at the Great Smokies Institute at Tremont. Assisting Amber was former TN Naturalists@Ijams graduate and flower aficionado Lynne Davis.

"I didn't think I would like the wildflower class," said naturalist student Stephanie Grayson, "But it was absolutely great. I learned so much." 

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. 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, in this case the group ventured down the Discovery Trail to the River Trail and boardwalk.

April's next class covers trees.

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ijams River Rescue cleans shoreline for 28th year, hundreds help

The 28th annual Ijams River Rescue was held last Saturday.

Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who met at over 30 public sites along the river and tributary streams to make our East Tennessee home more beautiful. Folks came in boats, canoes and trucks. They brought wheelbarrows, rakes and a steely-eyed resolve to "do the right thing."

We tip our hats to presenting sponsors Keurig Green Mountain and TVA.

And thank you to all of our other sponsors—City of Knoxville, First Tennessee Foundation, Grayson Subaru, Dow Chemical Company, Mesa Associates Inc., Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, River Sports Outfitters, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Wood Realtors, Knoxville Area Climbers, AmeriCorps and the Water Quality Forum—without whom this yearly cleanup would not be possible.

AND we are making a difference! In the mid-1990s Ijams' River Rescue volunteers were finding large items like chairs, old TVs and tires. With each passing year the amount of tonnage collected gets smaller and smaller.

All who volunteered got a free Ijams River Rescue t-shirt. Pat yourself on the back! You all earned it and you look soooo good in chartreuse.

One person can make a difference. Hundreds of people make a movement. Scruffy little city? Pishy-caca!

If one photo is worth a thousand words, here's over 25,000 words.

- Stephen Lyn Bales

- Supplied photos by Kristy Keel-Blackmon, Cindy Hassil and moi.