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TNP 1st Quarter 2022 Newsletter

Change Your Life - Change the Earth

10 New Year's Resolutions That Make a Difference

Snowflake - Micro Photography Courtesy: Ekamelev/Pixabay

10 New Year's Resolutions That Make a Difference

by Joan Greene

Whether you ushered in the year end with joyous celebration or slept through the moment when the old year became history; the next day was the beginning of a new year. It is human nature to feel the anticipation of what is to come.  

It is said that 4,000 years ago the ancient Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions.  Although their new year began in mid-March, those early resolutions were more along the lines of making promises to pay their debts and return objects that they had borrowed.

In reality, during our lifetimes we are borrowing the earth that we live on. For a limited time we are caretakers.  It got me thinking about ideas for resolutions that could change a life and help the earth that we inhabit.

Photo taken at Old Hickory Lake.  Photo courtesy Dr. Ronald Manley 

What will you resolve this year that makes a difference to the natural world around us? The following are some suggestions:

Educate yourself on the natural world.

Learn and observe your own backyard, your neighborhood, local, state and national parks and nature reserves.  Consider courses and programs that help you understand nature.  Become a Tennessee Naturalist.

Teach a Child

The children are the future caretakers of our earth.  Teach them what you know about natural history and about the wildlife that lives all around them. If you have a skill that enlightens others to the workings and wonder of our natural world - share it - pass it on.

TNP graduate, Joy Mayfield, volunteering with a children’s group as part of the Sierra Club's Inspiring Connections Outdoors Program.  Photo by: Betsy Garber, Middle Tennessee Group Sierra Club


When you are in nature carry a journal or notebook and record by taking notes and adding sketches.  Another method to record and journal is to use your cell phone to photograph details.  Transfer the notes and photos into a journal when you are home.  These notes and drawings will help you understand what you are seeing and to find changes over time.

There are many species on the endangered list.  What if you are the last person to see a bug or flower in the wild?  Don’t just walk by  . . . record, record, record.

Start a Library of Nature and Wildlife Guides and Books

Click the link for a list of general books that you might want to consider

Some Tennessee Focused Books:

Birds of Tennessee Field Guide by Stan Teckiela
Tennessee Nature Set: Field Guides to Wildlife, Birds, Trees and Wildflowers of Tennessee by James Kavanagh
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Nashville by Johnny Molloy

If you have a favorite Tennessee guide book or natural history book, please share it on our Facebook Page -

Photo Courtesy: Liz Clayton Fuller

Dedicate a day a week or a month to Citizen Science Research Projects
Taking part in a citizen science project is an excellent way to develop your field skills and discover something new.
The following are some resources for finding projects where your time and skills can make a difference:

Give Memberships to parks and nature reserves for birthdays and special events this year.  Or donate in someone’s name to a nature reserve.
You can give annual and lifetime senior passes (62 years and up) for our national parks (Link)
Annual pass to national parks for all others  (Link)
Note: There is no access fee charged for any Tennessee State Park. All 56 state parks are free to enter and enjoy. Some activities at parks may require permits or reservations, but hiking and enjoying the natural environment is always free.

Photo Courtesy   Sherry W. Turner.  Photo taken at Hinds Pond off the road in Tracy City near South Cumberland State Park.

Stay on the Trail
There are times in life to go off the beaten path, follow your own beat, but not in a state park or nature reserve.  Great nature photographers will tell you that no matter what you see in the distance do not leave the trail.  By leaving the trail you run the risk of destroying the habitat for the very wildlife that you come to see.  

Respect Nature and Wildlife
Keep your distance 
Keep quiet — try closing your eyes and listening to what is all around you.  This method will help you see more.

An additional word on this - no stacking rocks! This seemingly innocuous act often has a critical impact on the delicate balance of nature and endangered species. Do not take specimens from nature. Teach this same respect to your children. 
Take young people on nature hikes.


If you are a Tennessee Naturalist Program student or alumni contact your chapter coordinator for upcoming projects that you can volunteer for.

Do your part to prevent invasive species. Clean your boots and shoes before you head into your favorite wildlife area. Same goes for your boat, kayak or canoe or use ones that are available in the area. Don’t bring in firewood for campfires — purchase at the park.

Volunteer to help eradicate invasive species. Check with the Tennessee State Park nearest your home and get a schedule for their volunteer days.

Go Native

If you have a lawn, begin to convert from non-native to native plants and trees. Try making changes one plant or tree at a time.  Resolve to plant at least two native plants on your land this year.

A good resource is the organization called, Wild Ones (Link)

If you are like me most years my resolutions are more about giving up - less pie, less sitting at my desk, AND a few vague plans about more exercise.  You know the drill.  

Researching and thinking about this article inspires me to learn more, take more walks, turn off my cell phone, and find new ways to experience and encourage nature to thrive. 

Hoping you will approach these resolutions with the enthusiasm that only a new year brings.  May each enhance our understanding of nature, teach new generations about our fragile and giving earth. This year gift yourself and those you love the wonder that only nature can bestow.


Snowflake - Macro Photography by Vicki T. Graham. Photo taken in Mt. Juliet, TN.

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 Courses Beginning Soon
TNP at Memphis Chapter at Pinecrest
Classes beginning on February 7, 2022
 To learn more and register - click here.

TNP at Cedars of Lebanon State Park
Classes beginning on March 26, 2022
Registration opens January 23, 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 - Citizens Scientist Project

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 
For more information contact: Jessica Whitehorn, TNP Chapter Coordinator

Great Backyard Bird Count -  For more information visit  Audubon Acres participating on February 19th. Dr. Aborn will be on site banding birds - the Blue Bird Society and others will be leading that day. Volunteers needed to assist with bird walks or walks showing people how to use the eBird app.  Participation in this event counts towards TNP volunteer hours.

Weed Wrangle - March 5th organizations across Chattanooga will be hosting Weed Wrangles. Come pull invasive plants for the day and help make Chattanooga beautiful. We will have groups pulling Privet from future forest classroom sites and from other areas in the sanctuary. Contact Jessica to volunteer.

TN Tree Day - March 16th-17th. Volunteers needed to assist us with sorting and tagging trees that were purchased from the Tennessee Environmental Council. Participants will be picking up their trees that Friday and Saturday. We would also use help on March 18th and 19th to pass out trees. 

TVCC River Clean up - March 19th - 9AM to 1PM TVCC will be hosting a major clean-up at Audubon Acres in conjunction with our adopted waterway. We will clean up the river, the trail along the river and do invasive plant removal.

Avian Discovery Days - Chattanooga Audubon Society will be hosting a three day educational event all about birds! We are in need of volunteers to help run stations, lead groups on bird walks, and more. The event will take place April 5th-7th at 9:00am -1:00pm. Contact Jessica if your are interested in volunteering.

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

Cedars of Lebanon State Park
Cedars has a clean-up day the first Saturday of every month. 
9:00 am - Noon 
Tennessee State Parks and Natural Areas has partnered with The Garden Club of Nashville and Invasive Plant Control, Inc (IPC) to participate in Weed Wrangle® 2022. Weed Wrangle® is a nationwide clean-up event dedicated to ridding Tennessee of non-native plant species. On Saturday, March 5, 2022, volunteers from across the state will be helping to eradicate invasive plants in public spaces. 
If interested in volunteering call 615-443-2769

Cumberland Mountain State Park
A Walk Back in Time
1 mile walk
January 29, 2022  4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event fee is $5
To register for the event (link).
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
Public Workday on Tharp Trace
Saturday, January 29, 2022   9:30 am - 12:30 pm
To register for this volunteer day and other events and opportunities 
contact Jeremy Clothier, Public Programs Coordinator
(865) 577-4717 ext. 127

Memphis Chapter at Pinecrest
Trail Maintenance Days
Jan 24, Feb 14, Mar 21, 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).

Winter Workdays
Fridays, Jan 7-Feb 25 (excluding Feb 18)    10am-2pm
Spend time giving back this winter, a great time to get outside and get things done!  We’ll work on a variety of things from removing invasive plants, planting natives, trail work, general outdoor maintenance, and more!  Come ready for action then come away with the gratification of making positive changes!
Perfect for college students and Tennessee Naturalists.
BYO shovel, rake, loppers, gloves, etc. We have a small supply of tools.
For details and to register (link).

Murfreesboro Parks at Barfield
Find volunteer opportunities at (link).

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


Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary
Volunteer information and application to volunteer (link).
Events at Owl’s Hill that you might want to attend or speak with your Chapter Coordinator about the possibility of volunteering.

Paris Landing State Park/TNWR
2022 Weed Wrangle
March 5, 2022  - 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
For more information contact Regina Lowry, TNP Chapter Coordinator,
Paris Landing State Park Ranger.

Save a Critter, Pick Up Litter
Saturday, March 19th - 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
A refuge clean-up event open to all volunteers.  
Meet at 550 Refuge Lane, New Johnsonville, TN. 
T-shirts and other thank-you gifts for those that attend. 
TNP volunteer hours apply.
RSVP required - 731-642-2091 or click link below to email.
Contact Joan Howe, Refuge Ranger TNWR
Link to email Joan Howe. 

South Cumberland State Park Chapter
See a short film about how volunteers are redirecting/reforging the Fiery Gizzard Trail and why volunteering is so rewarding and necessary. (Link)

Savage Gulf Volunteer Days
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 — 8:30 am to 12:30 pm
Link for more details and to register.

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

Continuing Education and Volunteer Opportunities 
Highlighted Event

The Friends of South Cumberland State Park is issuing a special invitation to TNP participants and graduates to their 18th annual Trails & Trilliums, April 8-10  (COVID willing). This weekend-long naturalist event is headquartered at the DuBose Conference Center in Monteagle, with hikes and workshops taking place throughout South Cumberland State Park and on other favorite trails. Registration is set to open in mid-February with a detailed schedule of offerings. Early Bird registration is typically open to FSC members only, but this year TNP participants will also get first dibs on signing up.  Event website:

This event is ideal for TNP students across the state and is an excellent opportunity to get continuing education credits.  Over 25 top naturalists are the faculty members for this year's gathering. Presenters include:

  • David Haskell, PhD  Sewanee professor of biology and acclaimed author (The Forest Unseen, 2012; The Songs of Trees, 2017) with a presentation on his forthcoming book Sounds Wild and Broken.
  • Randy Hedgepath, TN State Naturalist
  • Asst. State Naturalist Holly Taylor
  • Todd Crabtree, TN State Natural Heritage Botanist,
  • Mary Priestley, well known author, nature journalist and wildflower expert
  • Tom Howick, Chattahoochee Nature Center (GA): Senior Director of Education & Master Naturalist Coordinator and Nature Journalist
  • John Manion, Arboretum Curator at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center in Chattanooga, formerly Curator at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens
  • Stuart Carroll, Fall Creek Falls Park Manager
  • Stephen Lyn Bales. Senior Naturalist at Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville (ret.)

If you plan to attend:

  • Register online:  (starting mid-February) Take advantage of Early Bird registration to get in the sessions you want.

  • Reserve a room: DuBose Conference Center offers reasonable hotel rooms and large group cabins (Big enough for your entire TNP chapter!); RV/tent camping are also available at DuBose and in South Cumberland State Park. Tel. 931-924-2353


Part-time Docent
Link to information

Science Teacher Openings in Tennessee
Link to information

Bookkeeper - Part-time, Contract Work for TNP - Experience Required
Link to information

Note: Many opening have short deadlines, so if interested, please go to the Information Link for details.  These listings are noted 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 (A) by Mark Mascolo at Tin Cup Farms, Clifton, TN, (B) by Lainie Shanks Luse in Cumberland County, TN,  (C) Photo taken in Davidson County,  (D) by John Smith in Oak Ridge, TN

TNP receives 0.5% of your purchase price when you shop AmazonSmile
TNP AmazonSmile Page
We love photos of TNP Students and Alumni in the field. Share with us (link).

New Volunteer Opportunity and Event

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is part of study being conducted by Discover Life in America.  The All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory is an attempt to catalog every species living in the park. So far, over 20,000 species have been recorded and it is estimated that the park contains another 40,000 to 60,000 species yet to be recorded.  If you would like to volunteer contact Todd. 865-430-4757 or email.
Unique Event to raise fund for this effort
Great Smokies Eco-Adventure Event
$950 per person
For more information click here



Tennessee Naturalist Program is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring the desire to learn and share Tennessee's nature.  We do not receive funding from any state or federal sources.  All donations are appreciated and can be sent to:

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

Or Donate online by clicking the button below:
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