What is now the Elise Chapin Wildlife Sanctuary was once the Walker family farm, where highly respected naturalist and Chattanooga Audubon Society founder Robert Sparks Walker was born in 1878. Walker formed the Chattahooga Audubon Society in 1944, with a vision of educating citizens on the importance of protecting the environment and respecting nature the way the area's Native Americans had for thousands of years.
Today, the society is the steward of three sanctuaries: Elise Chapin Sanctuary at Audubon Acres, Maclellan Sanctuary on Audubon Island, and David Gray Sanctuary on Audubon Mountain. Each offers a unique look into the history, wildlife, and natural splendor of the area as well as educational programs that help children and adults discover the area.
Built in 1786, James White's Fort affords glimpses into the frontier lifestyles of America's forefathers while providing education on Knoxville founder and the fort's creator, James White. Each year, more than 10,000 visitors explore the residence, which was restored and opened to the public in 1970. Six cabins and a stockade wall surround the main two-story log house, where guests can experience hands-on interpretations of life as a pioneer by cooking on an open hearth or spinning retro cell-phone-charger cords on an antique loom. Special events held throughout the year keep a continuous line of visitors waltzing across the land of Tennessee's first capital, including an annual celebration of Cherokee heritage.
The multiple YMCA locations in metropolitan Chattanooga serve more than 37,000 members a year and fulfill the mission of uniting guests regardless of gender, age, faith, background, abilities, or income. Founded in London in 1844, the YMCA spread to its Chattanooga home in 1871 and continues to operate with help from local community volunteers as stalwart as I Love Lucy syndicators. Each location caters to the needs of children, teens, seniors, and families with afterschool programs and fitness-based activities. Cardio machines pump hearts, racquetball courts host fun competitions, and pools allow goggles to fulfill their original purpose: snapping the face with their elastic band to make a diver jump off the blocks faster. A sauna and steam room heat clients up after they cool down in the pools, and parents can drop their young children off at the nursery before participating in group fitness classes.
"My Avian Jewels are my attempt to preserve nature's artistry and call attention to the inscrutable beauty and value of all bird eggs and their environment. The beautiful and ephemeral nature of a bird's reproductive process has inspired me to devote my energy to making these 'jewels' for the purpose of a more permanent collection, thereby supporting conservation and hopefully the preservation of the bird species." – C.E. Blevins
These words illustrate C.E. Blevins's passion for birds and nature itself, which led to the founding of the C.E. Blevins Avian Learning Center. The center is home to his collection of handmade bird-egg replicas and real migratory bird nests, and it helps educate the public on the importance of migratory birds to a healthy ecosystem. Trained nature interpreters lead tours that teach students and other guests about bird migration, the study of nests, and the relationship of birds and their habitats through hands-on activities. The center also includes a 4-acre nature trail with grassland, woodland, and wetland habitats.
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The energetic pastors and staff at Friendship Church seek to help others discover their spiritual faith in an atmosphere reminiscent of a nondenominational church. They reach out to community members of all ages through youth and adult ministries and small discussion groups, constantly working to place theological debates within a modern context. For nearly a decade, they've augmented their main mission with a range of summer camps for children of all ages. Staffers of the church’s tech camps, which build appreciation for the outdoors and technology more effectively than challenging a bear to a game of Super Mario Bros., educate children through the use of robotics, video production, and video games and immerse them in outdoor games and activities such as waterslides and trampolines. They also hold competitive gaming weekends for all experience levels.