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TNP Newsletter - May Edition

TNP Chapters-3 More TNP Chapters Featured

Photo courtesy of Lucy Banks, TNP Graduate, 2017 Friends of South Cumberland Chapter

In April we began a series that highlights each of our eleven chapters in this newsletter.  For this edition we are featuring: The TNP Chapter at Cedars of Lebanon, The TNP Chapter Murfreesboro Park at Barfield, and The TNP Chapter at Audubon Acres (Chattanooga Audubon Society).

The Tennessee Naturalist Program courses are taught by individual chapters located throughout the state of Tennessee.  Although the core course was designed to follow a set curriculum, each Chapter offers its unique flavor based on the natural environment of their location.  We have chapters from Memphis in the far southwest of the state to Kingsport in the far northeast corner and in between.  

Each TNP Chapter has a Chapter Coordinator.  Approximately 1200 students have taken the core course over the last eleven years. Each year our students and alumni volunteer 1,000's of hours to monitor, teach, maintain, and preserve Tennessee's natural resources and heritage.

If you are interested in becoming a certified Tennessee Naturalist follow this link to learn more about how and where you can sign up for the core course.

SEE links under "Volunteer Opportunities" to find the chapter nearest you. If you missed the April newsletter and the three chapters that we featured there; go to this link. Watch for upcoming newsletters as each chapter will be featured over the next few months.  





Cedars of Lebanon State Park opened in 1937, one of the first state parks established in Tennessee.  From its original size of ~800 acres, the park has grown to approximately 4,000 acres encompassing two state natural areas — Vesta and Cedars of Lebanon — and a working 1920s-era farm.  Cedars of Lebanon SNA was one of the first natural areas designated in 1974 and is recognized by the National Park Service as one of 13 National Natural Landmarks in Tennessee.  

The park is part of the largest limestone cedar glade and barrens complex in public ownership, and the ecologically significant glades and barrens support many rare and endemic plants and animals.  Active management through prescribed fire and vegetation thinning is required to restore and reinvigorate the mosaic of ecosystems found in this complex.  The park and Vesta feature hiking trails with interpretive signage.  Public programming includes the annual Elsie Quarterman Cedar Glade Wildflower Festival in spring with expert-led hikes.


The rich and unique natural history of Cedars of Lebanon pairs beautifully with the naturalist program's curriculum.  Our students receive an in-depth introduction to the ecological processes and organisms that define Tennessee's nature in the Central Basin.  TNP students earn volunteer hours in the park's Nature Center and Butterfly Garden (a Certified Wildlife Habitat), trail maintenance, invasive species removal, public programs, and citizen science projects. 



The Murfreesboro Chapter of the Tennessee Naturalist Program is held at Barfield Crescent Park in south Murfreesboro.  The 275-acre natural area is the largest natural area managed by the City of Murfreesboro.  The newly acquired Oakwood Farm will add 72 additional acres of grassland to Barfield.  The park has approximately 5 miles of hiking trails and 9 miles of mountain bike trails. The West Fork of the Stones River hugs the western border of the park providing continuous riparian habitat.  Limestone sinks are found throughout the park and a long stone wall that is thought to be Civil War-era, sits at the top of Marshall Knob.  The natural area here is a beautiful example of the Oak/Hickory Forest and unique Karst topography found in the Nashville Basin.  

How does your site manage your natural space?

The Outdoor Murfreesboro Natural Resource team spends a lot of time at Barfield encouraging the natural native system to thrive by hindering invasive species and pushing them back to a place where the native communities can compete.  There are certain areas within the park where disturbance has occurred in the near-past and those areas are clearly defined by prolific stands of privet, honeysuckle, and the other usual suspects often found growing in Tennessee that don’t belong here.  They also manage the trail systems within the park.  The team relies on volunteer stewardship to maintain the integrity of the natural system found at Barfield.  

How are you bringing people to nature?

The Wilderness Station offers environmental education programs for all ages. Guests can view native wildlife that is cared for at the facility. Our education animals include box turtles, aquatic turtles, snakes, and birds of prey.  Becoming a chapter of the Tennessee Naturalist Program has allowed us to offer more advanced learning and many of the students volunteer with the Natural Resource Team in hands-on engagement with nature, whether through picking up litter, removing invasive species, working on the trails, or monitoring nest boxes.  

What are examples of how TNP students and alumni are making a difference at your site & in your community?

TNP students are involved with natural resource projects that preserve the beauty of the park and community. These projects include citizen science activities like nest box monitoring and seasonal bird counts, native plant preservation and propagation through the Murfreesboro Indigenous Plant Project, assisting with special events such as Conservation Days, and removing thousands of pounds of trash annually from our riparian areas.

Audubon Acres (Chattanooga Audubon Society) TNP Chapter

What makes your site unique? Our Audubon Acres site is unique in that it combines nature and history at a site which makes you forget you are only two miles from a city mall.

How does your site manage your natural space? We are a non-profit and our volunteers are the heart of our organization. Their help allows us to provide trails and grounds that our visitors can enjoy.

How are you bringing people to nature? We are bringing people to nature by offering more educational programming for both adults and children. We also offer a membership that lets families and individuals explore our grounds and get creek access from dawn til dusk. 

How does TNP fit into this picture? We love having a nature based program to offer to the community. 

What are examples of how TNP students and alumni are making a difference at your site & in your community? TNP students have been a big help in assisting us with clearing trails and keeping those trails clear throughout the years. They have also been a big help with school programs. 

Registration for core TNP Courses

All our Core Courses are currently filled, but if you are interested in taking the course: 1) Click here to find your nearest TNP Chapter and 2) Contact the TNP Chapter Coordinator to request to be added to the waitlist or to be notified when their next TNP class is beginning

Check our website and Facebook for new class openings.

Volunteer Opportunities & Events

TNP Students - Core Course Field Work

All of our chapters need experienced and knowledgeable volunteers to help fulfill each chapter's mission.  If you are a Tennessee Naturalist Program student or alumni, contact your chapter coordinator for more information on upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Audubon Acres - Chattanooga

Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium - Kingsport

Cedars of Lebanon State Park - Lebanon

Cumberland Mountain State Park - Crossville

Discovery Park of America - Union City

Ijams Nature Center - Knoxville

Memphis Chapter at Pinecrest - Memphis

Murfreesboro Parks at Barfield - Murfreesboro

Owls Hill Nature Sanctuary - Brentwood

Paris Landing/Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge - Buchanan

Friends of South Cumberland State Park - Sewanee



TN2 Course
TN2 Wild Edibles Class
June 18th from 9:30am-1:30pm
Max # of Participants – 10
Cost - $75.00
5022 Pine Valley Rd.
Ashland City, TN 37015
Instructors: Pandy Upchurch, Retired Wildlife Biologist, Owner of Tennessee Healthy Habitats &
           Windy Hunter, Forager, Herbalist and Becoming an Outdoor Woman Instructor

Join long time wild foraging instructors, Pandy and Windy, as they collect and prepare wild edibles from fields, springs and woods.  Learn how to find, identify and prepare delicious and nutritious foods from the wild as well as your own backyard.  Learn the do's and don’ts of foraging as well as how to conserve wild edible plants for the future.  Come prepared to walk in wild places.  That includes boots, long pants, insect repellent, water and a hat.  It will be a fun day of brewing and browsing.  Sign up soon!

Register NOW

Tennessee State Parks 
Upcoming Events
Check with your Chapter Coordinator to confirm CE opportunities

For more information.

Seasonal Park Naturalist Position

Williamson County Parks and Recreation
Contact Michael Culbreth at 615-232-4154

The Nature Conservancy
Link to jobs all over the globe including Tennessee

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Natural Resources Manager
Link to job openings

Note: Many openings have short deadlines, so if interested, please go to the Information Link for details.  These listings are listed as a service to our students and alumni.  
If you know of any job openings that would appeal to Tennessee Naturalists, please email tnpcommunications7@gmail with the details.

Super Flower Blood Moon lunar eclipse. (May 15-16) Photo by Nicky Murphy
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