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TNP 2nd Quarter 2022 Newsletter - April Edition

Get to know your TNP Chapters

Highlighting our Eleven Tennessee Naturalist Chapters - Starting with Three

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.  


TNP has eleven chapters spread across this beautiful state and each chapter has a Chapter Coordinator.  Approximately 1200 students have graduated from our program over the last eleven years.


Over the next few months we will be highlighting each of our chapters in this newsletter.  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.

Click on the link below for more information about the chapter nearest you.

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

For this newsletter we will be highlighting Bays Mountain, Discovery Park and Paris Landing/Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge.  Watch for upcoming newsletters as each chapter will be featured over the next few months.  






Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium is a 3500 acre nature preserve and environmental education facility owned and managed by the city of Kingsport, Tennessee. One of Tennessee's first state natural areas, 90% of the park is protected and managed as an undisturbed ecosystem. This allows park visitors the opportunity to hike over 40 miles of trail, watch wildlife, explore a 44-acre lake during guided kayak tours and barge rides, or simply relax in an undeveloped natural area all within a few minutes of the Tri-cities (Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol) metropolitan region.


Another important aspect of Bays Mountain Park is its strong commitment to environmental education. The park offers a large selection of environmentally themed programs for students, kindergarten through college. In recent years home schooled groups have also become an important component of Bays Mountain's educational outreach. Educational facilities include: one of the most recognized planetariums in the southeast, native animal "habitats", raptor center, herpetarium, and a newly remodeled nature center.




What makes your site unique?
We are a museum and 50-acre heritage park that encompasses aspects of the natural world. In our main facility, we house native wildlife species found at nearby Reelfoot Lake State Park to teach guests about these animals and their habitats. Our animal collection includes freshwater fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Our gallery also discusses the Mississippi Flyway and features an Earthquake Simulator that tells the story of the New Madrid earthquakes that contributed to the formation of Reelfoot Lake. We also have a gallery that discusses geological aspects of Tennessee. On our grounds, we have incorporated beneficial projects for wildlife, such as bluebird houses, bat boxes, and pollinator gardens. We are able to utilize our own space as well as nearby state parks for the field portion of our class.

How does your site manage your natural space?
We have a wildlife department and a grounds crew who manage our natural spaces.

How are you bringing people to nature?
We discuss various nature-related topics either within exhibits or through educational programs performed by our wildlife staff or from external experts such as college professors, park rangers, etc. Our goal is to educate visitors about the natural world at our site as well as point out other places of interest nearby for further nature experiences.

How does TNP fit into this picture?
The mission of Discovery Park is to inspire guests to pursue further knowledge in topics they are exposed to at our site. TNP aids us in providing a unique educational experience that introduces participants to varying topics, allows them to develop a better understanding and appreciation of those topics, and discover interests that can lead to further learning.

What are examples of how TNP students and alumni are making a difference at your site & in your community?
TNP students contribute to the betterment of our site by participating in programs such as our Bluebird Monitoring Program or educational outreach activities. By participating in volunteer work at nearby state parks and nature trails, they are contributing to the maintenance of these sites so they can continue to be enjoyed by others.


What makes your site unique?
Our Chapter is unique in that it combines two different agencies, state and federal, with a joint effort to produce a top quality TNP course for the northwest TN area. Our course covers 10 months, utilizing all four seasons in the learning experience.  The classes are held over four different public lands sites (Tennessee NWR, Paris Landing SP, Land Between the Lakes NRA, and Hancock Biological Stn.), so the student’s classroom moves to the best possible place for studying that month’s topic.
How does your sites manage your natural space?
The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge is 51,000 acres stretched along 65 miles of the Tennessee River and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as habitat for migratory birds.  It is a major stopover, nesting and resting spot for birds along the Mississippi flyway.  Encompassing a wide diversity of habitats the refuge holds 316 different species of birds, 54 mammals, 89 species of amphibians/reptiles and 144 species of fish. This species rich natural area provides a perfect classroom for our TNP students.  
Paris Landing State Park is 841 acres and was just voted by the public as the top park in the Tennessee state park system. Its shoreline of fields and forest  beside the widest expanse of Kentucky Lake provide the TNP students with many opportunities for outdoor learning.

How are you bringing people to nature?
The refuge and state park alike have year-round wildlife observation areas, along with hiking trails, miles of roads for biking or walking next to scenic beauty as well as huge expanses of water that provide opportunities to boat, kayak or canoe.  Paris Landing State Park is one of the top-visited parks in the state.  
The Tennessee NWR attracts upwards of 400,000 annual visitors to this area. Its state of the art visitor center holds interactive exhibits that feature the wildlife and scenic beauty of this portion of Kentucky Lake.  Both sites are frequented by field trips, ranger led programming, environmental education camps, special EE events, etc.

How does TNP fit into this picture?
Both sites struggle with too many people visiting our sites and not enough ranger staff to interact with and assist during events and activities.  Trained naturalists and volunteers are heavily used to fill the gap.  Many TNP students get their volunteer service hours at these two sites, but our hopes is that they will continue to work to fulfill our environmental education needs.

What are examples of how TNP students and alumni are making a difference at your site & in your community?
Field trips from nine different counties come to the Tennessee NWR.  With only one staff person dedicated to this work, TNP students and certified naturalists are used heavily to provide environmental education during these field trip opportunities.  
Keeping public facilities in good shape at our sites is a struggle. Some of these facilities such as hiking trails have been maintained by these volunteers. TNP members have also recently begun to help with trash cleanup.
Both sites use TNP students to conduct wildlife habitat and restoration work.  TNP students build, place and maintain artificial cavity nest boxes such as bat, bluebird trails and wood duck.
Paris Landing State Park is in the process of opening a nature center on the park.  TNP students have been instrumental in assisting the park with exhibit content and getting the center ready to open.


Registration for core TNP Courses
Check our website for new class openings. 

If you are currently a student or alumni, please consider sharing our upcoming courses with friends and family.

Core Course Beginning Soon
TNP at Cumberland Mountain State Park
Classes beginning on April 12, 2022
 To learn more and register - click here.

TNP Volunteers helping with school children's experiences at the TNP Chapter at Discovery Park.

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 Audubon Society)
Volunteers needed 
Events and volunteer opportunities
For more information contact: Jessica Whitehorn, TNP Chapter Coordinator

Bay's Mountain
For Volunteer information 
Events and volunteer opportunities
(423) 229-9447
Contact Krystal Haney, TNP Coordinator, Ranger/Naturalist

Cedars of Lebanon State Park
Cedars has a work day the first Saturday of every month. 
9:00 am - Noon 
If interested in volunteering call 615-443-2769

Cumberland Mountain State Park
To check for volunteer opportunities for this event and other volunteer opportunities contact Holly Taylor, TNP Coordinator
(932) 265-8719

Discovery Park of America
For volunteer opportunities contact Jennifer Wildes, TNP Coordinator, Director of Exhibits
(731) 885-5455 ext 1125

Ijams Nature Center
To register for this volunteer day and other events and opportunities contact Jennie McGuigan
(865) 577-4717

Memphis Chapter at Pinecrest
Trail Maintenance Days
Apr 25, May 16 - 10am-2pm
Social-distance volunteer opportunity.  We are smoothing trails, creating new trails, and clearing up and restoring old trails. Some work may be done to remove invasive plants or restoring wetlands around campus.  We can supply some tools, or bring your own loppers, trimmers, rake, or shovel.  Bring water!  Drop in and stay as long as you like.
For details and to register (link).

Murfreesboro Parks at Barfield
Find volunteer opportunities 

Conservation Days
April 22 and 23, 2022
Volunteers needed -- See information on the link below.
Learn more. 

Lynn Rosser, Education Program Coordinator
Phone: (615) 217-3017


Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary
Volunteer information and application to volunteer (link).
For more information contact TNP Chapter Coordinator, Laura Smith, Naturalist
615-370-4672 or

Paris Landing State Park/TNWR
For volunteer registration and events.
For more information contact Regina Lowry, TNP Chapter Coordinator,
Paris Landing State Park Ranger.

For events and volunteer opportunities
at TNWR call (731)-642-2091 or click link below to email.
Contact Joan Howe, Refuge Ranger TNWR

Friends of South Cumberland State Park Chapter
Trails and Trilliums Conference
April 8-10  
TNP - CE Credits available for most of the events. Also, excellent volunteer opportunities.
Click here for the link to register and for a schedule.

For additional South Cumberland Mountain volunteer opportunities click the link below.


72nd Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Great Smokey Mountain National Park
April 26-30

To register and learn more.

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

For more information.

Science Teacher Openings in Tennessee

Link to information

Bays Mountain Summer Internship & More
Link to information

Instructor/Assistant Professor Biology-Botany - UT Southern in Pulaski

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. 
Can you identify these?
Go to our Facebook Page to check your answers (click here)
Photos by Angie Slade.  All taken at various State Parks and Natural Areas in Tennessee.

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Tennessee Naturalist Program Selected to Participate in the 2022 Big Payback

We need your support.  
This year a portion of the donations that we receive will go toward our scholarship fund.  
The Big Payback is a 24-hour fund raising event sponsored by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Every donation matters.  
TNP receives no State or Federal funding.
Donating begins May 4, 2022 at 6:00 pm! 


Tennessee Naturalist Program is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring the desire to learn and share Tennessee's nature.  

Tennessee Naturalist Program, Inc.
P.O. Box 682924
Franklin, TN 37068-2924

Copyright © 2022 Tennessee Naturalist Program, All rights reserved.

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