September 2022
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Thursday September 1, 2022 7:00 PM EDT

Flying insects, even butterflies, are on the decline around the world. You can help them rally by planting a native floral buffet. Join local naturalist, Stephen Lyn Bales, as we learn what you can do to help them survive and flourish at the UT Arboretum Society’s First Thursday Nature Supper Club, “Native Plants for a Pollinator Garden,”  via Zoom on Thursday, September 1 at 7 p.m. EDT.

You provide your own stay-at-home supper, and we provide the nature as Stephen Lyn will entertain and teach us via Zoom as we learn how cardinal flower, coneflower, black-eyed Susans, bee balm and many more are not only beautiful, but they are also vital to native butterflies. Many of these plants are also host plants for caterpillars that birds rely on to feed their nestlings.

The program is free, but registration is required to receive your link. This program will be recorded, and closed captioning is available. Please note this program is scheduled on Eastern time. Please contact UT Arboretum Education Coordinator, Michelle Campanis, at with any questions or registration issues.

To contact Stephen Lyn Bales or buy one of his UT Press books, email him at

RSVP deadline is past


Monday September 5, 2022 9:00 AM EDT to 6:00 PM EDT

UT Arboretum Society Butterfly Festival – “Fun Raiser”
Decorate an 18 Inch Butterfly – Order Yours Here!

The UT Arboretum Society is holding a “Fun Raiser” to celebrate our upcoming, in-person, 7th Annual Butterfly Festival on September 17th.  That is not a typo – this will be fun for everyone that participates and to everyone that sees your butterfly creations. Show off your creative streak by decorating an 18-inch wooden butterfly!  Your artwork will be displayed throughout the UT Arboretum grounds near the rain garden, the Auditorium and the Visitors Center.  Your creations will help foster the spirit of the festival as we return to an in-person event this year.

Since this is a “Fun Raiser,” the pre-primed butterflies are being sold at cost:  $20 each for an 18-inch butterfly in assorted shapes. All orders should be pre-paid by credit card/PayPal below We have only 40 butterflies available, so order yours soon!  Use your imagination and decorate with any materials you want.  Entries by children are welcomed and displayed as prominently as those by more skilled adult artists.  Just remember your butterfly creations will be displayed outside and are subject to the weather.

Participants can pick up their butterfly at the UT Arboretum, 901 S. Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge beginning Monday, August 1st, and return the decorated butterfly whenever it is ready but, no later than Tuesday, September 6th. The butterflies will be on display throughout the months of September and October. After that you may pick up your butterfly, and it is yours to keep!

Stay tuned for more information on the Butterfly Festival which is on Saturday, September 17th, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  This festival features educational talks, the UT Insect Zoo and over a dozen crafts and activities for children!

The UT Arboretum Society is sponsoring this “Fun Raiser.” For more information contact UT Arboretum Education Coordinator, Michelle Campanis, at

RSVP deadline is past


Saturday September 17, 2022 10:00 AM EDT to 1:00 PM EDT
monarch on joe pye weed

The University of Tennessee Arboretum Society will present its seventh annual Butterfly Festival on Saturday, September 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UT Arboretum Auditorium and surrounding grounds, 901 S. Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge.  The Butterfly Festival is an educational endeavor to provide opportunities for the public to learn ways they can protect our pollinators by visiting the UT Insect Zoo, two butterfly tents, our educational lectures, the butterfly release and children’s art activities. Co-sponsored by the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center, this educational event is designed for children and adults of all ages.

Parking is in designated areas of the UT Arboretum adjacent to the event and on a first come first serve basis.The entrance fee is $5 in cash(to facilitate entry) per carload. All other expenses can be made with cash or credit card. The gate will be open at 9:30 a.m. The event will take place rain or shine.

Children’s craft activities will be available at a cost of a $1 ticket per activity or $5 for six tickets. Activities include temporary tattoos, butterfly masks, Magic Color Scratch butterfly ornaments, decorating cookies, caterpillar bracelets, and more.

Two speakers will give presentations in the air-conditioned UT Arboretum Auditorium. From 10:00 to 10:45, Stephen Lyn Bales will present “Our Beloved Butterflies and Their Hosts.” Stephen Lyn is the monthly educator for the UT Arboretum Society’s virtual Zoom educational program, the First Thursday Nature Supper Club.  He is a retired senior naturalist from Ijams Nature Center and author of three books:  Natural Histories, Ghost Birds, and Ephemeral by Nature. These books, as well as his beautiful notecards, will be available for sale.  At 10:50 a.m., Georgann Eubanks will present “Habitat Heroes: Saving the Wild South for Us All.” Georgann writes about the history, culture, and environment of the South. Her latest book considers how the region’s incredible biodiversity helps to shape our culture and identity as Southerners. This book, Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Native Plants on the Brink of Extinction, will be available for purchase and signing. In addition to these two speakers, Dr. Shirley Raines, local author of two children’s books entitled Butterflies and Bees, will have her books for sale.

Children of all ages will enjoy experiencing the UT Insect Zoo, a travelling exhibit of insects. The goal of the Insect Zoo is to have fun while sharing knowledge of insects with others to help them appreciate the important role of insects in our environment. The Insect Zoo showcases preserved and live insects and arachnids (scorpion, tarantula, etc.) found in Tennessee and throughout the world. Two butterfly viewing tents, staffed by members of the University of Tennessee Entomology and Plant Pathology department, will be open for a closer look at butterflies and insects.

The festival will feature local artisans Kathy Fahey, Stephen Lyn Bales, Kris Light, and Teresa Myrick, all offering butterfly-themed merchandise.

Food trucks include Forks on the Road, CJs Tacos, and Pelican’s SnoBalls. We invite you to bring refillable water bottles. 

Contact UT Education Coordinator, Michelle Campanis for more information or questions.

Tuesday September 20, 2022 7:00 PM EDT

Tuesday, September 20, 7pm EDT via ZOOM  Stephen Alvarez, creator of the Ancient Art Archive (, will lead a zoom presentation about the Mural of America project. This presentation is cosponsored by Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning and the UT Arboretum Society. Stephen is an amazing photographer who uses photography, videography, and 3-D imagery to document indigenous art from native cultures all over the world. The Mural of America explores ten North American cultural landmarks that illuminate the complex artistic mysteries of the past. Founder Stephen Alvarez and the Ancient Art Archive’s extraordinary team of anthropologists, archaeologists, and Native American artists are exploring the ten sites’ artistic wonders, the rich cultures that gave birth to them, and how they remain meaningful today. Their work is still in progress on most of the sites, but their work at Tennessee’s  Devilstep Hollow Cave is complete and ready for all of us to experience!

Stephen Alvarez is an award winning National Geographic photographer, film maker and explorer who produces global stories about exploration, adventure, culture and archeology. He has published over a dozen feature stories in National Geographic Magazine. The Magazine has sent him from the highest peaks in the Andes to the depths of the deepest cave in the world. His latest National Geographic story on the Origins of Art led from early human sites on the southern coast of Africa to Paleolithic art caves in France and Spain. Moved by the power of humanity’s earliest artworks, Alvarez founded The Ancient Art Archive in 2016. The Archive is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to using the photography and the newest image based VR technology to preserve and share the humanity’s oldest artworks. Stephen lives with his family in Sewanee, Tennessee.

This program is free but you must register to receive your Zoom link or the recording. Please contact UT Arboretum Education Coordinator, Michelle Campanis, for any issues with registration at .

RSVP deadline is past


Thursday September 29, 2022 7:00 PM EDT
Tennessee River Gorge
Tennessee River Gorge

Join us on Thursday, September 29 at 7pm EDT when we return to in-person programming at the UT Arboretum Auditorium as Dr. Martin Knoll updates us on microplastics in the Tennessee River and other locations worldwide. Microplastic particles have been discovered in almost all environments on planet Earth. Recent research has identified several negative health impacts of these plastics on aquatic life. Microplastics have also been found in the lungs and bloodstream of humans. This presentation will focus on my research investigating the concentration and types of microplastics found in the Tennessee, Cumberland and Rhine Rivers. Special emphasis will be placed on Dr. Knoll’s recent findings about the major sources of these microplastics and what might be done to reduce their numbers.

Martin Knoll with students

Our presenter, Martin Knoll, earned his BA degrees in German and Natural Resources at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. After studying at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, he earned an MS degree in Geology at Vanderbilt University and a PhD in Geology at the University of Texas at El Paso.

He taught for 5 years at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, before returning to Sewanee in 1993 to teach Geology and Hydrology. He chairs the Department of Earth & Environmental Systems there. His research interests include the geology of the Mojave Desert, groundwater and stormwater dynamics on the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, insects in Baltic amber, landscape evolution of southwest Germany, and microplastics in the Tennessee, Cumberland, Rhine and Danube Rivers. In 2017 he was project director for the Tenneswim, the most ambitious analysis of water quality in the Tennessee River ever conducted. He lives with his wife, 3 sons, and an English Bulldog in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Location: UT Arboretum Auditorium, 901 S Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, TN 37830

Contact UT Arboretum Education Coordinator, Michelle Campanis, with any questions about this event. If the presentation is recorded we will make that available to the public.

Thursday October 6, 2022 7:00 PM EDT
Baby opossum in hand of wildlife rehab person

Thursday, October 6 at 7 p.m. EDT on ZOOM.Join local naturalist Stephen Lyn Bales as we learn about and how wildlife are nursed back to health at the UT Arboretum Society’s First Thursday Nature Supper Club. You provide your own stay-at-home supper, and we provide the nature as Stephen Lyn will answer questions such as: Who is allowed to care for an injured hawk, owl, or opossum? What does the work of wildlife rehabilitation entail? He will provide answers explaining how wildlife rehabilitators would treat their wounds and give them a safe and quiet place to heal. If it is an orphaned songbird, how often would you would feed until it can fly away on its own?

This program will be recorded, and closed captioning is available. Please note this program is scheduled on Eastern time. Please contact UT Arboretum Education Coordinator, Michelle Campanis, at with any questions or registration issues.

To contact Stephen Lyn Bales or buy one of his UT Press books, email him at

RSVP deadline is past


Thursday November 3, 2022 7:00 PM EDT
Stephen Lyn Bales with Barred Owl

Owls are so mysterious. Being nocturnal, they are active when we are asleep and hidden during our daylight hours. We often hear them hooting in the darkness but do not know who or where they are. Learn all about the owls of East Tennessee and perhaps what’s hooting in your woods!

Join naturalist, Stephen Lyn Bales, who has worked with owls for 24 years, and UT Arboretum education coordinator Michelle Campanis for the November First Thursday Nature Supper Club “Who’s That Hooting? and it will be about our local owls.

Due to some scheduling issues this addition will be pre-recorded. The program is free and closed captions are available.. Please register below to receive the recording. For any registration issues, please contact Michelle Campanis .

RSVP deadline is past


Thursday November 17, 2022 7:00 PM EST
Bobcat on porch

 Everyone has a favorite mammal, and we have many in Tennessee. Join the University of Tennessee Arboretum Society’s virtual program with naturalist Don Hazel as we learn about the amazing mammals in our state, from chipmunks, otters, and armadillos to bears, bobcats, and wild boars! What is your favorite mammal?

“Mammals are particularly interesting to us, maybe because we humans are mammals,” said Hazel. “From this session, you will get a great overview of our Tennessee mammals.” There will also have a question-and-answer period at the end of the program.

Don and his wife Nancy are retired and have lived in Fairfield Glade, near Crossville Tennessee for 16 years. Having a life-long interest in nature, Don writes a twice-monthly nature column for the Glade Sun and Crossville Chronicle newspapers. He is the president of the Tennessee Bluebird Society, a member of the Friends of the Trails organization, and president of the Fairfield Glade Fly Fishing Club.

This Zoom program has closed captions available and will be recorded and sent to all who register. Please note this program is Eastern Time Zone.

Please contact UT Arboretum Education Coordinator Michelle Campanis for any questions or registration issues.

RSVP deadline is past


Saturday November 19, 2022 9:00 AM EST
Flyer for Third Saturday Hike

Join us on Saturday, November 19 at 9am for a hike designed to be an introduction to the arboretum and enjoyable for everyone. The hike is usually around 2 miles and is guided by our volunteers. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water. Fitness levels vary so we do not give a rating for this hike. No pets please due to our status as a research facility. No registration needed. When in doubt get outside!

Thursday December 1, 2022 7:00 PM EST
Red panda cubs Spandeau and Wicket, born on July 31, 1987, and grew up together at the Knoxville Zoo.  

East Tennessee is filled with a grand biodiversity of plants and animals. Our presenter, naturalist Stephen Lyn Bales, has written three books and over 600 newspaper and magazine articles about nature and natural history. Join us for December’s First Thursday Nature Supper Club as Stephen shares his favorite stories about some unique and unexpected plants and animals he has encountered during his career. Osage orange, freshwater jellyfish, rufous hummingbirds, pawpaws, 17-year cicadas, red pandas, bald eagles, wild turkeys and the return of smoky madtoms are a few of the interesting stories Stephen Lyn has written about in the past 30 years and will share with us.

Join UT Arboretum education coordinator Michelle Campanis and Stephen Lyn for “It’s a Wonderful Life,” their next UT Arboretum First Thursday Supper Club on December 1 at 7 p.m. EST via Zoom. The program is free but you must register at to receive the Zoom link and recording. Closed captions are available. Contact Michelle at for questions or registration issues.