Seven Ponds Nature Center

A Nature Sanctuary and Environmental Education Center

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Mending the fences. Fixing the bridges. Clearing the trails. Spreading the woodchips. Filling the potholes. Prepping the bird boxes. Sprucing the gardens…

The long winter, which spilled over well into spring this year, left us with much to do to get the grounds ready for another season of activities. With limited staff and funding, it’s always a challenge to get everything done that shows up on our to-do lists, but one-by-one, step-by-step, project-by-project, we chip away at the wide array of tasks that face us here at the nature center.

After many years of service, the polyethylene fencing protecting our Woodland Wildflower Area was no longer keeping our hungry deer herd away from the wildflowers. Riddled with holes from deer busting through and mended beyond belief, it was time to replace the fence. We decided to step up our defenses by installing a metal fence impervious to the efforts of the deer. With a limited time frame in which to work (between the end of winter weather and the start of the wildflower growing season), we removed the old fencing, prepped the area, and installed ~150 yards of heavy-duty fencing around the perimeter. We feel confident that the deer will be sorely disappointed when they get a hankering for some tasty spring ephemerals!

The small footbridge in the North-80 was feeling shaky last fall, and a rebuild was in order. Not bridge-builders by trade, we nonetheless jumped into the job, and now we have a nice, sturdy bridge connecting the south and north portions of the North-80.

The winter’s snow, ice, and wind leaves our trails littered with limbs and debris and needing to be cleared. Further, many of the trails benefit from a fresh coat of wood chips. Keeping the trails in good condition – which is a never-ending task – encourages our guests to fully utilize them, which keeps us happy! Well worth the effort.

Of course, like all the roads in the area, our long driveway suffers from an annual attack of potholes, and thus needs some tender, loving care to fill those ever-deepening holes.

Wood Ducks, bluebirds, swallows, chickadees, and wrens check out our collection of ~130 nest boxes as a prospective residence for this year’s brood. These boxes require mending, cleaning, and prepping for our new slate of tenants, and we’re happy to be good, responsible landlords.

Our demonstration gardens, herb garden, and butterfly garden sit dormant for six months or more, but come spring they bloom with flowers, herbs, and fruit to be enjoyed by all manner of visitors – people and wildlife. These gardens require countless hours of work by our dedicated staff and volunteers. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Thankfully, many step up to the task.

It takes a lot of effort to keep the grounds of Seven Ponds Nature Center in good condition, but it’s the kind of effort that is close to the hearts of many. Stop on by – remember, as a Seven Ponds member, these grounds and trails are open to you dawn to dusk, every day of the year. Enjoy!

Daryl Bernard, Executive Director
Around the Center
In April, Naturalist, Cathy Wesley and Chief Naturalist, Carrie Spencer led a group of people through the wonders of The Great Smoky Mountains. Together they explored all the wonderful wildflowers the mountains had to offer.

Spring, summer and fall bring the need for additional staff for these busy times of the year. Nancy Kautz returned in April for her thirteenth year as Seasonal Naturalist. Nancy will be helping with school groups, Camp Seven Ponds!, and a variety of other tasks. Also in April, Karen Page returned for her fourth year as Weekday Receptionist. You are likely to see Karen behind the receptions desk when you visit during the coming months, or you may hear her voice when you call.

Stacey Holinsworth is now our new Rookery Gift Shop manager in addition to her duties as weekend receptionist. Stop by to see all the exciting things happening in the gift shop and find something to take home – all purchases support Seven Ponds Nature Center! Please welcome these returning staff members the next time you visit the nature center. It’s great to have them back!

Board of Directors News

At the December board meeting, long-time board member and Seven Ponds supporter Charlie Turner was appointed a Lifetime Member of the board. This appointment was made by unanimous vote of the current board of directors. We are excited to continue to have Charlie’s sage wisdom and experience going forward.

The Seven Ponds Nature Center Annual Meeting was held on Saturday, March 24 at the nature center. The Board of Directors reviewed the center’s 2017 activities, thanked our outgoing board member, appointed new board members, and elected officers. Nan Toppin completed her second consecutive three-year term, finishing up her time on the board. Nan graciously agreed to remain as a key member of the Development Committee. Kathy Churchill returned as a Member-at-Large, and the board welcomed new Member-at-Large Sandy Cornell, who filled the position vacated by the appointment of Charlie Turner as Lifetime Member. Jocelyn Scofield returned for a second board term. The following officers were also elected at the Annual Meeting: Mary-Sue Weber, Chairman; Nancy Buck, Vice-Chairman; Paul Messing, Treasurer; and Joanna Pease, Secretary.