Ijams Recent News

Ijams Nature Center joins forces with Aslan Foundation, Tennessee Department of Agriculture Forestry Division and Grayson Subaru to wage war on weeds

June 24th, 2019

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In 2019, Ijams Nature Center has declared war…on weeds.

With support from the Aslan Foundation, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, and Grayson Subaru, Ijams’ new Weed Warriors program focuses on eradicating invasive, nonnative species and restoring East Tennessee’s native landscape.

“Preserving the native plants, trees and grasses of this region provides a healthy habitat for native animals, birds, insects and fish to thrive,” Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker said. “Bush honeysuckle, English ivy and other fast-growing, nonnative species choke out the rich diversity of plants native to this area.

“Our native species are what make this region so special,” she said. “If we don’t protect them, we could lose them—and the wildlife that relies on them for habitat and food—forever.”

During the first year of the program, funding from the three partners is helping with start-up costs, from developing an education program and training volunteer Weed Warriors to building a bank of tools and gear to conduct the work. Over the course of their training, volunteers will learn about invasive plant identification, treatment and removal, how to use tools properly and methods to work safely in an outdoor setting. The initial cadre of Weed Warriors will lead their own volunteer groups to cover even more ground on the property.

The second year of the project will move beyond Ijams’ borders and into the community. Weed Warriors will teach individuals, neighborhood groups and businesses to identify invasives, promote the benefits of native plantings and encourage them to choose natives when landscaping their homes and offices. 

The Weed Warriors project started with a mass eradication of invasive species on three acres of property that is the future home of the Grayson Subaru Preserve. Using the bulk of the first year’s funding, Ijams hired Invasive Plant Control, a Nashville-based company that specializes in treating large areas in a short amount of time. A team of six IPC staff cleared and treated three acres in only three days.

Parker said this approach, while expensive at $5,000 per acre, has the potential to become a best practice in how nature centers, parks and other protected natural areas are managed. It would take many months to accomplish the same result with staff and volunteers.

“This initial investment in expert eradication followed with maintenance by trained volunteers may be the best way to effect meaningful, long-term landscape change,” Parker said. “We’re studying how this approach affects the restoration of native landscapes, how it impacts the diversity of flora and fauna, and how human perception of the landscape changes.”

Aslan Foundation’s Executive Director, Andrea Bailey, agrees.

“The Aslan Foundation is committed to protecting Knoxville’s natural resources,” Bailey said. “What we learn during this partnership with Ijams has the potential to be a model for one of the area’s most valued treasures, Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.”

Aslan plays a key role in developing parks within Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, specifically within the Battlefield Loop. The Foundation recently restored Loghaven, a South Knoxville property it purchased in 2008 to save it from redevelopment. The property will be home to the Loghaven Artist Residency, a program designed to nurture artists of excellence from around the world while preserving 100 acres of natural and built environments. The Foundation preserves beauty, advances livability and supports cultural assets through its grantmaking, public-private partnerships and projects.

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences. Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, swimming, boating, biking and more. The center offers hundreds of educational programs annually, from day camps and school field trips to outdoor and classroom education programs on beginner birding and hiking to wildflower walks and family adventures. The Ijams grounds and trails are open every day from 8 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit https://Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.


Ijams River Rescue Removes Close to 37 Tons of Trash From Area Waterways

April 24th, 2019

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The 30th annual Ijams River Rescue presented by TVA with support from Lowe’s collected 36.8 tons of trash and tires from 33 sites in and along East Tennessee’s waterways on April 6, 2019, once again removing a significant amount from Loves Creek.

Volunteers and crews from the City of Knoxville removed 19 tons from one site along the creek at the end of Loves Creek Road behind Food City. The City, which also sponsored this year’s event, carted away two nine-ton truckloads of shingles, along with construction debris such as wood, siding and paint cans at this site.

“It’s disheartening to find a site where someone has dumped so much construction debris,” said Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker. “Ijams, other organizations, neighborhood associations and thousands of volunteers have been cleaning up this community for decades, yet there are still people who seem to care more about avoiding fees than protecting the environment. When will they realize that protecting the earth is important? They live here too.”

The event brought 680 volunteers out to clean up the community. They removed 1,646 bags of garbage and 449 tires from sites in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Loudon counties.

“It was an interesting cleanup,” Ijams Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Bird said. “When the waters receded from the flooding we had earlier in the year, we found a lot of debris many feet from the shore and in the trees.”

One of Ijams River Rescue’s sponsors, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB), and a crew from Living Lands & Waters also participated in the event as part of KTNRB’s Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup, which covered 400+ miles of river in four weeks. Three boat teams comprising 25 volunteers removed 2,359 pounds of trash, including 33 tires, during the Knoxville leg of the group’s four-city cleanup from Iuka, Miss., to Dayton, Tenn.

In addition to the typical trash volunteers find during a cleanup such as aluminum cans, tires, Styrofoam and plastic bottles, this year’s cleanup also retrieved unusual items such as a hot water heater, refrigerator, a fishing pole, multiple lawn chairs, the top of a boat’s storage compartment, a plastic ear of corn, a couch cushion, a rusted metal billboard sign, a fire extinguisher, car parts and a rain barrel.

Ijams appreciates everyone who helped make the 2019 Ijams River Rescue a success. This event would not have been possible without the generous support of TVA, Lowe’s, City of Knoxville Stormwater Management, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, Dow, First Tennessee Foundation, Grayson Subaru, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Thompson Engineering, WestRock CP, LLC, WUTK 90.3 The Rock, American Rivers, AmeriCorps, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Waste Connections, and the Water Quality Forum.

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences. Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking and more. The center offers hundreds of educational programs annually, from school field trips and off-site programs to on-site outdoor and classroom education programs that focus on topics from birding and wildflowers to yoga hikes, cooking classes and art programs. The Ijams grounds and trails are open every day from 8 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.

Volunteers at the April 6 Ijams River Rescue tackled three sites on Loves Creek as well as 30 other sites. Some of the 22 Loves Creek volunteers at the site behind Walmart stand by some of the trash they collected. Another Loves Creek site at the dead end of Loves Creek Road was the dirtiest site of the cleanup; City of Knoxville crews and 10 volunteers removed more than 38,340 pounds of trash–most of it construction materials–from that site. 


Grayson Subaru presents record-breaking check to Ijams Nature Center from 2018 Subaru Share the Love Event

April 22nd, 2019

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From left, Grayson Auto Group Marketing Coordinator Dan Moyer and
Grayson Subaru Manager Randy Carter present Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker and Ijams Board President Bo Townsend with a record-breaking check
for $21,896 from the 2018 Subaru Share the Love Event.

Grayson Subaru presented Ijams Nature Center with a check for $21,896 from Subaru of America’s 2018 Share the Love event on Monday, April 22.

The check breaks last year’s record for the largest amount ever presented by Grayson Subaru to a local hometown charity.

“This gift is possible because Grayson Subaru customers have again shown their love not only for Subaru vehicles but also for Ijams Nature Center,” said Randy Carter, Grayson Subaru sales manager. “Subaru of America’s Share the Love Event makes a difference on both the national and local level. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to give back to an organization in our community in such a significant way.”

The Subaru Share the Love event ran Nov. 15, 2018, through Jan. 2, 2019. Subaru of America, Inc., donated $250 for each new Subaru purchased or leased to the customer’s choice of several charities. Grayson Subaru customers could choose to designate donations to Ijams or one of the following charities: ASPCA, Make-A-Wish, Meals on Wheels America and National Park Foundation.

In celebration of the campaign’s 11th anniversary and the automaker’s 50th anniversary in the United States, Subaru did not place a cap on total contributions to its Share the Love charitable partners for the second consecutive year.

Since the Share the Love Event began, Subaru of America and its retailers have donated more than $140 million to national charities and more than 1,170 hometown charities.

“Ijams is so grateful to be Grayson Subaru’s hometown charity,” Parker said. “It means a great deal to have partners that believe in and support Ijams’ mission, and it’s incredible to know that the people Ijams serves feel the same way.”

Funding will assist the nonprofit nature center in cleaning up and restoring the Grayson Subaru Preserve, a 13.46-acre property that will become a cutting-edge nature play area for children with observation areas for parents.

Work to clean up the site began in 2018. The former homesite had been an illegal dumping ground when the prior owners moved off the property. A team of Grayson Subaru volunteers first tackled the site in April 2018 as part of the annual Ijams River Rescue, removing 112 tires and an estimated 1,332 pounds of trash, most of it glass.

In January 2019, Ijams contracted with Invasive Plant Control, a company based in Nashville, Tenn., to conduct a mass removal of invasive species on three acres of the property running along Island Home Avenue between McClure and Harold Lanes.

Volunteers removed another 100 pounds of trash and 29 tires from the property during the 30th annual Ijams River Rescue presented by TVA with support from Lowe’s on April 6.


Public Invited to Celebrate Success of 2018 Subaru Share the Love Event April 22; Grayson Subaru To Present Largest Check To-Date to Ijams

April 10th, 2019

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The public is invited to join Ijams Nature Center and Grayson Subaru in celebrating the success of the 2018 Subaru Share the Love event on Monday, April 22, at 10 a.m. during a check presentation and reception at the Ijams Nature Center Visitor Center, 2915 Island Home Ave. in Knoxville.

Grayson Subaru officials will present Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker with the donation, which breaks last year’s record as the largest amount to-date presented by Grayson Subaru to a local hometown charity.

“This gift is possible because Grayson Subaru customers have again shown their love not only for Subaru vehicles but also for Ijams Nature Center,” said Randy Carter, Grayson Subaru sales manager. “Subaru of America’s Share the Love Event makes a difference on both the national and local level. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to give back to an organization in our community in such a significant way.”

The Subaru Share the Love event ran Nov. 15, 2018, through Jan. 2, 2019. Subaru of America, Inc., donated $250 for each new Subaru purchased or leased to the customer’s choice of several charities. Grayson Subaru customers could choose to designate donations to Ijams or one of the following charities: ASPCA, Make-A-Wish, Meals on Wheels America and National Park Foundation.

In celebration of the campaign’s 11th anniversary and the automaker’s 50th anniversary in the United States, Subaru did not place a cap on total contributions to its Share the Love charitable partners for the second consecutive year.

Since the Share the Love Event began, Subaru of America and its retailers have donated more than $140 million to national charities and more than 1,170 hometown charities.

Ijams plans to use the donation to assist in cleaning up and restoring the Grayson Subaru Preserve, a 13.46-acre site that will ultimately feature footpaths, natural play elements for children and observation areas for parents that will allow them to watch their children but not inhibit their nature free play. The site also will be a place for citizen science and other Ijams education programs.

In January 2019, Ijams contracted with Invasive Plant Control, a company based in Nashville, Tenn., to conduct a mass removal of invasive species on three acres of the property running along Island Home Avenue between McClure and Harold Lanes. Volunteers removed about 100 pounds of trash and 29 tires from the site during the 30th annual Ijams River Rescue presented by TVA with support from Lowe’s on April 6.

“Ijams is so grateful to be Grayson Subaru’s hometown charity,” Parker said. “It means a great deal to have partners that believe in and support Ijams’ mission, and it’s incredible to know that the people Ijams serves feel the same way.”


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR 30TH ANNUAL IJAMS RIVER RESCUE APRIL 6

March 5th, 2019

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Sign up to volunteer for the 30th Ijams River Rescue and you’ll have some good “clean” fun on Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.!

Presented by TVA with support from Lowe’s, Ijams Nature Center’s annual communitywide event focuses on removing trash and tires from sites along the Tennessee River and its creek tributaries from the river’s headwaters in Knoxville to the shores of Loudon County.

Volunteers can register using an online, interactive site map accessible from the Ijams River Rescue page on Ijams’ website, www.Ijams.org. Available slots are filled on a first-come, first served basis, and typically book quickly. The deadline to register is March 29 or until all slots have been filled.

Those wishing to sign up as a group should have all members register individually so that they can complete a waiver and provide personal contact information should Ijams need to communicate with everyone at a particular site.

This year’s event is receiving a helping hand from Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) thanks to a partnership with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful.

Created by Chad Pregracke in 1998, LL&W is a nonprofit environmental organization that hosts river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings and other key conservation efforts. LL&W has removed more than 10 million pounds of litter from waterways since its inception. The group first came to Knoxville with its barge in 2015 to kick off its Tennessee River Cleanup during the Ijams River Rescue.  Pregracke challenged TVA and Keep Tennessee Beautiful to establish an organization that would continue river cleanups on an ongoing basis, which led to the creation of the nonprofit Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful. 

Ijams River Rescue is a part of Ijams Nature Center’s Take Action! activities, which run through April 14 and focus on big and small ways to protect the planet, from volunteer workdays and educational programs to movies, a slow food potluck and more.

Ijams also is partnering with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful to present a Take Action! talk by Dan Breidenstein, who serves as LL&W’s multimedia specialist and leads the group’s Invasive Species Removal Project and the Adopt-A-Stream Mile Program. Breidenstein will speak Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at the Ijams Visitor Center. Admission is free, but registration is required.

The 30th annual Ijams River Rescue presented by TVA with support from Lowe’s is sponsored by City of Knoxville Stormwater Management, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, Dow, First Tennessee Foundation, Grayson Subaru, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Thompson Engineering, WestRock CP, LLC, WUTK 90.3 The Rock, American Rivers, AmeriCorps,
Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Waste Connections, and the Water Quality Forum.


IJAMS NATURE CENTER SAYS ‘TAKE ACTION!’ MARCH 1-APRIL 14; New Conservation Series Offers Big and Small Ways to Save the Planet 

February 22nd, 2019

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A new conservation series presented March 1 through April 14 by Ijams Nature Center encourages everyone to become an Action Hero to protect the Earth.

“Take Action! Big and Small Ways to Save the Planet” focuses on big and small changes people can make to conserve natural resources and reduce their carbon footprint. Sponsored by 90.3 The Rock, the six-week series offers programs, workshops, cleanup events, volunteer workdays, movies, an e-cycle event and more.

“People care about and protect what they love,” Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker said. “Ijams Nature Center’s goal is to connect people to nature and inspire them to become good environmental stewards. This new series offers a number of ways we all can have a positive impact on the place we call home.”

Ijams Visitor Services Manager Sarah Brobst, who created the series with Ijams Naturalist Jeremy Clothier, said a number of Take Action! programs are free to ensure they are accessible to everyone. Donations will be accepted to help Ijams continue to provide free and low-cost programs for people to learn about and engage with nature.

“This series is designed to get people from all walks of life involved in environmental conservation,” Brobst said. “Even a small change can make a difference. We have to start somewhere.”

Brobst enlisted a variety community partners to help with the series, including Beth Meadows from The Empathetic Organizer, who will speak about the cost of clutter, and low-impact lifestyle expert Kayla Simon, who will present a series of zero-waste talks and workshops. River Sports Outfitters is cohosting a lecture by Leave No Trace Master Educator Lydia Williams, who will discuss how to enjoy recreational activities while protecting the great outdoors for future generations.

Ijams is partnering with Slow Foods Tennessee Valley for an evening celebrating clean, organic eating and friendly farming practices. John Coykendall, renowned seed saver, classically trained artist and master gardener at Blackberry Farm, will speak at the event, which includes a screening of the documentary Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall’s Journey to Save Our Seeds and Stories. Central Cinema will show screenings of the family-friendly animated movie FernGully: The Last Rainforest at its new theatre on Central Street in Happy Holler.

Festivities kick off March 2 with the fourth annual Weed Wrangle Knoxville®, a citywide volunteer effort to remove nonnative, invasive plants that wreak havoc on native habitats. Volunteers will wrestle weeds at Ijams Nature Center’s Grayson Subaru Preserve and several other sites in the community. Volunteers are still needed.

The finale April 14 is an Action Hero Conservation Celebration open to everyone who has participated in at least two Take Action! activities. Sponsored by Cherokee Distributing and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, the event will celebrate the impact Action Heroes have taken over the six weeks and will feature data on what was accomplished, live music from the classic British rock band The Beatclub, food trucks and a beer garden. Those who have taken part in four or more activities will receive a special reward.

For a complete list of offerings or to register for Take Action! activities, visit http://ijams.org/take-action-big-and-small-ways-to-save-the-planet/


Christmas Tree Recycling at Ijams 2018

December 20th, 2018

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Christmas tree recycling is back!! Beginning after Christmas on December 26, Ijams will be collecting live Christmas trees that will be recycled and ground up into mulch for use on the Ijams trails. Trees can be dropped off at the back section of the Ijams Quarries overflow parking lot (across from the Meads Quarry parking lot) any day between 8 a.m. and dusk.  There will be signs specifying where to unload your trees.

Call 865-577-4717 ext. 110 for more information.


Grayson Subaru Names Ijams Nature Center Its Hometown Charity for 2018 Subaru Share the Love Campaign

November 7th, 2018

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Grayson Subaru of Knoxville has selected Ijams Nature Center as its local hometown charity for Subaru of America Inc.’s (SOA’s) 2018 Share the Love event.

From Nov. 15, 2018, to Jan. 2, 2019, SOA will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle purchased or leased at more than 628 of its retailers nationwide to several national charities and a hometown charity chosen by each retailer.

“Grayson Subaru is proud to have Ijams Nature Center as its partner for Share the Love for a second year,” Grayson Subaru Sales Manager Randy Carter said. “We’re passionate about this community and are always looking to give back. The Share the Love event allows Subaru of America, Grayson Subaru and hundreds of other retailers nationwide to make a difference in the world, and helping Ijams is a great way to do that.”

In 2017, Grayson Subaru presented the nonprofit nature center with a check for almost $20,000— the largest amount to-date the local retailer has presented as part of a Share the Love event.

“Ijams is incredibly grateful to be selected as this year’s local hometown charity, and for partners like Grayson Subaru,” Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker said. “Our goal is to inspire others to celebrate and protect our East Tennessee ecosystems through educational, outdoor experiences, and SOA and Grayson Subaru share similar values. Working together, we all can create a brighter future for the planet.”

The 2018 event marks the third consecutive year there will be no cap placed on the total donation from SOA to its Share the Love charitable partners. At the end of this event, SOA estimates the company will exceed a grand total of $140 million donated since the Share the Love event started in 2007.

Grayson Subaru customers may choose from Ijams Nature Center or one of the following national charities: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®(ASPCA®), Make-A-Wish®, Meals on Wheels America® and National Park Foundation.

Grayson Subaru is part of Grayson Auto Group, which offers the Subaru, Hyundai, BMW and Mini brands. Grayson Auto Group is celebrating its 40th anniversary of serving customers in the Knoxville, Maryville and Sevierville area.

Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Subaru Corporation of Japan. Headquartered at a zero-landfill office in Camden, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 630 retailers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. SOA is guided by the Subaru Love Promise, which is the company’s vision to show love and respect to everyone, and to support its communities and customers nationwide. Over the past 20 years, SOA has donated more than $120 million to causes the Subaru family cares about, and its employees have logged more than 40,000 volunteer hours. As a company, Subaru believes it is important to do its part in making a positive impact in the world because it is the right thing to do.


Ijams River Dock NOW OPEN!

October 19th, 2018

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The Ijams River Dock is back open, so get out there and have some fun on this beautiful day!

 


Ijams Primal Playground Offers New Way to Move at Ijams Nature Center

October 19th, 2018

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If you thought the only ways to exercise in nature were to walk, run, hike, bike, swim, climb or paddle, Ijams Nature Center is about to put a little “wild” in your workout.

The nonprofit nature center this winter will break ground on the Ijams Primal Playground, the first natural exercise/training site of its kind that combines landscape features such as boulders, logs and trees with a customizable training plan designed by a physical fitness expert.

“Research shows that exercising in natural areas increases the intensity of that activity while increasing our connection to the natural world,” Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker said. “People build connections to nature in different ways, and the Ijams Primal Playground will be a way for people to get out of the gym and into the wonder of East Tennessee’s landscape. This project will get a whole new group of people outdoors and give nature lovers another way to spend time in the wild.”

The Ijams Primal Playground will be funded through a partnership with Legacy Parks Foundation, The Siddiqi Charitable Foundation and Earthadelic, a local landscape and construction company.

“The mission of Legacy Parks is to ensure that this community has access to outstanding recreational opportunities, natural beauty and open spaces,” said Legacy Parks Executive Director Carol Evans. “Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. Amber’s vision for the Ijams Primal Playground is something that hasn’t been done before, and Legacy Parks is thrilled to be able to bring on Siddiqi Charitable Foundation and Earthadelic as partners.”

Ijams’ goal is to create an experience that marries nature and fitness in such a way that the training area blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings and enhances the benefits of exercise. Studies consistently have shown that outdoor play is critical to childhood development and allowing adults to reconnect with their inner child by getting down and dirty with nature is just as important for their happiness, health and wellbeing.

The Ijams Primal Playground also will include educational elements about the history of Mead’s Quarry and the natural history of the region, creating a well-rounded exercise and educational experience unlike anything currently being offered.

Fitness expert Mark Rice will design the Ijams Primal Playground to ensure physical elements meet current best practices for the fitness industry while using nonstandard natural materials and methods. Rice has 10 years’ experience as a trainer and fitness manager.

“Mark’s knowledge of human movement and progressive training makes him highly qualified for this job,” Parker said. “He is a Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and a specialist in corrective exercise and senior citizen training.”

The South Knoxville native also competes in Highland Games and the games tie in with his plan for the new exercise space.

“Training with natural objects is something humans have done for centuries,” Rice said. “The Ijams Primal Playground will feature lifting stones, which are heavy, natural stones that are still used in many countries as a way for people to prove their strength. Having lifting stones at Ijams will honor the region’s Scots-Irish heritage, as well as draw people from all over the world to challenge themselves.”

The customizable workout plan Rice is creating will allow individuals of all fitness levels to adjust their workouts using progressive weights and increasing difficulties. The space will feature a variety of options to accomplish seven basic human movements: push, pull, carry, hinge, squat, loaded carry, rotation and counter-rotation. By blending these movements with endurance activities such as hill runs, someone can use the plan to create an exceptional physical training experience.

“The use of the natural environment, with all its irregularities and unanticipated characteristics, also increases the use of proprioception, the body’s awareness of its position in the environment, and kinesthesia, the sense of how the body moves in that environment,” Rice said. “Improving the understanding of how humans relate physically to their surroundings and how they react to them is functional fitness at its best.”

Parker, a naturalist who loves hiking and strength training, has envisioned creating an outdoor exercise space using natural elements for some time.

“We protect what we love. The Ijams Primal Playground is a new way to create a special relationship between people and nature,” she said. “We are extremely fortunate to have partners with similar values and missions to be able to make this project a reality. Our goal is for people to be healthy and happy, and we all want the same for the Earth.”

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities, and walks of life. Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking, and more. The Ijams grounds and trails are open every day from 8:00 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.