Ijams Recent News

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.


2017 TenneSwim Findings Announced Oct. 10 at Chattanooga’s Tennessee Aquarium

October 8th, 2018

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After breaking the world record for speed swimming the Rhine River from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea in 2014, Dr. Andreas Fath, Professor of Medical and Life Sciences at Furtwangen University in Germany, took on the Tennessee River at its headwaters less than a mile from Ijams Nature Center on July 27, 2017.

Dubbed TenneSwim, Fath’s second “swim for science” was finished just 34 days later. He again broke a world record, but more importantly, Fath conducted analyses along his route to determine the water quality of the Tennessee River in a project that was the most extensive interdisciplinary water quality survey ever conducted of North America’s most biologically diverse river.

He and his team took on the task to raise awareness about the importance of water quality and engage the general public to become actively involved in helping improve the health of southeastern rivers and streams.

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 11 a.m. ET, Fath will present the results of his findings at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute in Chattanooga. Joining him will be Dr. Anna George, vice president of Conservation Science and Education at the Tennessee Aquarium, and Dr. Martin Knoll, professor of Geology and Hydrology at Sewanee: The University of The South.

At 652 miles, the Tennessee River is 112 miles shorter than the Rhine, but its significantly slower current posed an even greater challenge for Fath. He had to cross nine reservoirs while swimming the Tennessee River, compared to just one lake – Lake Constance – during the Rhine project.

The water samples Fath and his team collected each day have been thoroughly analyzed (and in some cases re-analyzed) for several hundred substances at Furtwangen University and by other project partners. The researchers used methods and equipment that proved effective in analyzing the samples collected during Fath’s Rhine swim.

While swimming the Tennessee River, Fath also wore an artificial membrane on his leg. This device, which Fath likens to a fish skin, collected any organic pollutants he came into contact with.

During his presentation, Fath will reveal the TenneSwim results and provide commentary about potential sources of pollutants the research team identified. He will also compare the health of the Tennessee River to the Rhine River and at least one other major river.

TenneSwim U.S. partner organizations include the Sewanee: The University of the South, the Tennessee Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, the University of Georgia River Basin Center, Ijams Nature Center, the River Discovery Center of Paducah, Tennessee State Parks, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

# # #

Thom Benson, Director of External Affairs, Tennessee Aquarium
423-785-3007 / tlb@tnaqua.org
Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
175 Baylor School Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37405




Ijams’ Symphony in the Park Reservations Due by Aug. 31

August 25th, 2018

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Mark your calendar to attend Ijams Nature Center’s 33rd annual Symphony in the Park, presented by Stephen and April Harris! This delightful evening of music, art, dinner, a silent auction and more is Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

This benefit for Ijams Nature Center features the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra directed by Aram Demirjian, along with special musical guest R.B. Morris and visual artist Katherine Smith. Proceeds from this event, which is Ijams’ largest annual fundraiser, help provide outstanding environmental education programs and engaging outdoor experiences as well as maintain this 315-acre wildlife sanctuary. For more than three decades, this elegant and enchanting outdoor event has been a highlight of Knoxville’s fall social calendar.

Tickets are $175; tables of 10 are $1,750 ($50 per ticket is nondeductible). If you’d like to reserve tickets or a table now, please contact Elizabeth Newman at 865-577-4717, x123 or enewman@ijams.org. The deadline for reservations is Friday, Aug. 31! Learn More

Special thanks to the following sponsors:

Stephen and April Harris

Home Federal Bank
Jupiter Entertainment
Pilot Flying J
Thermal Label Warehouse, LLC

Lenten Rose
Clayton Homes
Sharon and Steve Gigliotti
G&O Railways
Sherri Lee
Pinnacle Financial Partners
Ann Sartwell and Robby Moore
Smile-A-Day, LLC

All Occasions Party Rentals
Cherokee Distributing Company
Harper Auto Square
Knoxville Beverage Company
Turkey Creek Land Partners
Vulcan Materials Company

Table Sponsors
Appalachian Mountain Bike Club
City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation
Stuart Ijams Cassell
Sharon Davis
George and Ellen Kern
Knoxville Garden Club, The
Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
Moxley Carmichael
Bo and Beth Townsend
The Trust Company of Tennessee

Thanks Also To
Paul and Pat Green

Aug. 29 SoKno Social at SoKno Taco Cantina Benefits Ijams

August 25th, 2018

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SoKno Taco Cantina, Geezer Brewery and Ijams Nature Center are teaming up for a fantastic fundraiser, and you’ve got to be there!

Join us, along with River Sports Outfitters and Navitat, for lunch, a snack, dinner and/or drinks on Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and SoKno Taco will donate 10% of all sales to your favorite nonprofit nature center!

Delicious guacamole, nasty nachos, salads, burritos, cocktails, cold brews, soft drinks…everything you purchase counts toward an Ijams donation! We’ll also have prize drawings and some other fun stuff, so mark your calendar and get your taco on to benefit Ijams!

Learn More

Ijams Presents Eighth Annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival Aug. 25

August 14th, 2018

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If spending a little face time with a ruby-throated hummingbird, discovering the secrets of backyard birds, and learning the basics of bees sounds like fun, make plans to attend Ijams Nature Center’s eighth annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival on Saturday, Aug. 25.

Presented by WBIR-TV Channel 10, this annual event runs from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., but if you want to see a live hummingbird, you need to come early! These tiny creatures are active during early morning and finicky about the weather. Most birds are captured and released during the first few hours of the festival.

During these personal encounters, certified Master Bander Mark Armstrong will demonstrate bird banding and talk about why banding is important. One member of each small group will release the hummingbird.

Late risers who miss these close encounters will still have the chance to learn a lot about ruby-throats during a workshop presented by Armstrong later in the day. Other workshops will cover beginning birding, backyard butterflies, gardening to attract hummingbirds, citizen science, and more.

The event also features animal presentations; kids’ activities; a marketplace of arts, crafts, garden décor, and plants from local nurseries; and food trucks.

Tickets are $7 for ages 12 and up, $3 for children ages 5-11, and $20 for a family (parents plus children). Kids 4 and under are free.

The eighth annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival is sponsored by WBIR-TV Channel 10, Perky Pet, Agri Feed Pet Supply, City of Knoxville, Stanley’s Greenhouse, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, and Visit Knoxville.

For details, visit www.ijams.org/hummingbird-festival/.

Crafty Bastard Fundraiser for Ijams This Sunday, July 29

July 24th, 2018

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Your lazy Sunday afternoon just got a purpose…Crafty Bastard’s Pints with Purpose for Ijams!

Yes, you can still lounge around on the patio, nibble on food truck fare (Sundays feature Captain Muchacho’s!)  and enjoy a frosty cold pint, but from 2-6 p.m., every pint you purchase means Crafty Bastard will donate $1 to Ijams Nature Center! We’ll also have prize drawings from Ijams, Navitat and River Sports Outfitters throughout the afternoon.

Join Craft Bastard Brewery and Ijams on Sunday, July 29, from 2-6 p.m. and have a ‘crafty’ experience for a cause!

Crafty Bastard Brewery
6 Emory Place
Knoxville, TN 37919


June 15th, 2018

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Hundreds of folks visit Ijams Nature Center every summer asking about the sunflower fields. The sunflowers are actually planted by TWRA at the Forks of the River WMA, a property located just down the greenway from Ijams.

TWRA and Legacy Parks hosted a sunflower festival in 2017, and it was announced that there would not be sunflowers again until 2019. It appears that the fields previously aglow with the deep yellow blooms are being allowed to lay fallow this season. This process allows the soil to regain nutrients that can be lost to overplanting.

While we wait for potential sunflowers in 2019, let’s enjoy this beautiful photo that was taken by our very own naturalist-storyteller-journalist-photographer-extraordinaire Stephen Lyn Bales.

Saturday is Moving Day for Pond Residents at the Ijams Visitor Center Plaza

June 8th, 2018

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Work is under way to repair possible cracks in the pond on Ijams Nature Center’s Visitor Center Plaza, and the first step is to relocate the residents of this popular aquatic habitat.

One of Ijams’ most visible water features, this pond serves as a critical part of Ijams’ aquatic educational programs as well as a peaceful place for visitors to view the creatures that call it home. The more than 20-year-old pond boasts native animals and insects such as water snakes, salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles and dragonflies, and is a showcase for native plants.

When water levels began to drop during early fall 2017, staff researched possible reasons. They first discovered that the pipes that transfer water to the pond after being used in the Visitor Center’s geothermal heating and cooling system had become blocked with tree roots, which prevented the water from reaching the pond. Work was done to dig up and clear the pipes, but it did not resolve the problem. While these pipes ultimately will need to be replaced, the staff and several consultants who evaluated the pond determined there was most likely a crack in its foundation.

Once the animals have been captured, categorized and relocated to a nearby pond on the Ijams grounds, staff will empty the pond to find and patch any cracks, and then replant and restore the pond. The restoration also is an opportunity to remove any nonnative, invasive plant species, which will encourage native plants to thrive and provide a healthy habitat for East Tennessee animals and insects.

Please excuse our mess while we work to make the Visitor Center Plaza pond a happier, healthier place for wildlife!