Tennessee Naturalist Program

TN Naturalist

Ijams Member Registration Opens on Dec. 5 at 9 a.m.

The Tennessee Naturalist Program (TNP) is an education training course designed to introduce the natural history of Tennessee to everyone 16 years and older. Graduates join a critical corps of Tennessee Naturalist volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the appreciation, understanding, and beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

Parks and nature centers around the state have joined forces to develop and offer these programs to participants from all walks of life. So whether you are interested in beginning a career in natural resources, want to do volunteer work that improves our environment, or just can’t wait to learn more about Tennessee’s wildlife, the Tennessee Naturalist Program is for you!

TNP at Ijams

Ijams Nature Center is proud to offer a chapter of the Tennessee Naturalist Program to East Tennessee! Ijams provides easy access to forests, rivers, meadows, and ponds along with a gateway into Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. Naturalists rarely need to go more than 10 minutes from the Nature Center to experience the diverse landscapes and living creatures that make up the rich tapestry of East Tennessee!  Read below for more information on how to be a part of this amazing experience.

Program Description

The Ijams Chapter of TNP is made up of 11 sessions that run from February to November. Sessions are held once a month and include classroom and field studies. Each session is led by a Veteran Naturalist with knowledge on their particular topic. Participants are encouraged to bring a water resistant journal, a 10X hand lens, and a few pencils to each class. Other necessary materials are provided by Ijams. Read below for the complete 2020 session schedule.

2020 TNP at Ijams Schedule:

Introduction: February 22, 1 pm – 5 pm
Feathered Friends: March 21, 8 am – 12 pm
Ferns & Flowers: April 18, 9 am – 12 pm
TN Trees & Forests: May 16, 1 pm – 5 pm
Reptiles & Amphibians: June 20, 9 am – 2 pm
Insects: July 25, 9 am – 1 pm
Mammals and Nocturnal Naturalist: August 22, 4 pm – 10:30 pm
Aquatic Systems: September 19, 1 pm – 5 pm
Fungus: October 24, 1 pm – 4 pm
Geology: November 21, 9 am – 1 pm
Closing: November 21, 1 pm – 3 pm

In addition to the 11 sessions described above, each Naturalist must complete 40 hours of volunteer work to complete the program. These hours are completed outside of the class sessions, and can be completed at Ijams or other environmental organizations. A volunteer project list is available for Naturalists to choose from, as well as opportunities for finding your own hours. Specifics regarding finding, completing, and logging volunteer hours are covered during the introduction session. It is highly recommended that Naturalists begin working on their hours as early in the program as possible.


This program is designed for everyone 16 and up interested in strengthening their general naturalist skills and knowledge of East Tennessee’s ecosystems. Anyone aged 16-17 must have a legal guardian who paid the $250 registration fee in the Naturalist Program with them, and the guardian must attend every session with their ward.

Individuals in the program should be in good physical health, and must disclose any health concerns/necessary medication in the health questions at registration. A minimum of 2 hours of each workshop is spent outdoors on trails in a variety of weather conditions. Most trails are dirt/rock and involve moderate changes in elevation and terrain.


Registration is online through Active Network. The fee is $250 per person, and includes all field trips, digital hand-outs, hands-on activities, and other provided resources. The fee can be paid in full at registration, or you may opt to enroll in an installment plan. The installment plan allows you to pay a deposit of $100 at registration and then pay a second installment of $150, which is automatically withdrawn from your account on March, 23 2020.

General Registration opens on Wednesday, December 7 2019, and the registration link will be posted on this page as well as made available on the Ijams Facebook. Early registration is available for Ijams members, and you can become a member here. Membership must be completed by December 4 at midnight for early registration to apply. Member registration opens on December 5 at 9 a.m., and runs until December 6 at midnight.

You can contact the Ijams TNP Chapter Coordinator Jeremy Clothier at jclothier@ijams.org or 865-577-4717 ext. 127 with any questions.

Cancellation Policy

The $100 deposit is non-refundable and not transferable to another TNP session or Ijams program. Participants who have paid the entire fee at the start of the year are eligible for a refund of $150 if they cancel before March 23, 2020.

Participants who have enrolled in the installment plan must notify Ijams of cancellation prior to March 2o, 2020 in order for Ijams to cancel the automatic withdrawal.