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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ijams Homeschool Academy begins new year in the creek

Ijams Homeschool Academy kicked off its 2017-18 school year last Friday. 

In all it is eight classes, each on a natural science topic including ornithology (birds), herpitology (amphibians and reptiles), entomology  (insects and other invertebrates), dendrenology (trees), mammalogy (mammals) and in the case of our first class, aquatic life.

The junior naturalists are divided into three age groups. Ashlind hosts the 5-year-olds and younger, Christie hosts the 9-year-olds and older and Stephen Lyn hosts what he calls the "middles"—the 6, 7 and 8-year-olds.

The older kids got to wade Toll Creek searching for crawdads, fish and aquatic insects. Exploring the depths of a stream can be a little scary but it is also empowering to conquer your fears.

Ijams had been connecting children to nature since the summer of 1923.

Next month, we will search for insects.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

TN Naturalists@Ijams wade Toll Creek looking for aquatic life

The TN Naturalists@Ijams class of 2017 held five hours of outdoor workshops yesterday. The first focused on invertebrates, primarily arthropods: insects, spiders and their ilk. 

After a break for lunch, we turned to aquatic life. First dip-netting at a pond on the original Ijams Homesite then wading a length of Toll Creek looking for, well, anything alive.

Some of the interesting finds of the day were a leech, crane fly larvae, caddisfly larva, soldier fly larva, dragonfly larvae, crawdads, newt nymphs, tadpoles and everyone's favorite damselfly--the ebony jewelwing. The most common fish on Toll Creek seemed to be blacknose dace.

Ijams gives adults permission to be 10-year-olds playing in the creek again. Ijams naturalists Christie and Stephen Lyn hosted the workshops.

TN Naturalists@Ijams is a series of 12 classes taught from March to November. Next up for the group will be fungi in September.

Registration for the class of 2018 will begin soon.

Blacknose dace

Ebony jewelwing damselfly

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Chasing bugs at Ijams, yes we know, it's old school

The great Ijams Bug Safari was held this sunny afternoon. In all, 56 kids ranging in age from 4 to 66 chased insects and spiders around the grassy hillside near Jo's Grove. 

Using swept nets, plastic cups and raw enthusiasm the junior naturalists caught a table full of grasshoppers, cicadas, stinkbugs, butterflies, moths, crickets, katydids, leaf hoppers, beetles, roly-polies, dragonflies, damselflies, spiders and three pretty scary parasitic wasps. (The bug catchers were taught beforehand to avoid anything in the stinging Hymenoptera order but these, we guess, were just too tempting. Creepy is creepy, after all.)

Ijams has been a safe place for kids to connect with nature since the summer of 1923.

Next month we wade Toll Creek looking for crawdads and aquatic insects.

- Thank you Janet, Jen and Sara Cate for helping.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Adventure camp kids visit poetry-reading creek pirate on last day

The last day of Ijams summer Adventure Camp was bittersweet, but they had one last character encounter to cheer them up!

The adventurous kids found the hillbilly creek pirate Crawdad Willy guarding his lonely outpost on the eastern edge of the nature center.

When they came upon him, he was passing his time reading the "poyotree" of Miss Emily Dickinson. "The past is such a curious creature, To look her in the face, A transport may reward us, or a disgrace."

After they helped him decipher her cryptic words, he taught them a bit about the critters that share his "crick." Did he say, "sally-amander"? And notice the pickerel frog in a jar around his neck. That's his buddy.

To pass through the gate, the campers were each marked on the cheek with creek mud after giving Crawdad a gold coin...it is called Toll Creek, after all!

And Willy be the toll-taker.

Ijams is the home of imaginative learning.

- Jennifer Roder, education director