Monday, July 18, 2011

Tennessee Aquarium Backyard Habitat Workshop Saturday, July 23rd

Tennessee Aquarium visitors are really in for a treat each time they visit Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari. Free-flying birds, such as this blue-headed macaw thrill guests during special programs. Throughout much of the rest of the day, animals like turtles, reptiles, amphibians and mammals such as a woodchuck, hedgehog or opossum. By meeting these wonderful creatures up close, guests gain a better understanding of their natural adaptations, habitat and role in the environment. Hopefully this experience will "follow everyone home," inspiring them to take a look at their own backyard habitat. This Saturday, July 23rd at 2:30 pm Aquarium visitors will have an opportunity to explore Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari and then learn what it takes to certify their own backyard habitat.
Tennessee Aquarium education outreach coordinator Bill Haley will conduct this fun-filled one hour workshop, which is FREE with Aquarium admission. Bill will incoporate live animals, slides and handouts to show everyone how easy and rewarding it is to certify your yard with National Wildlife Federation.

 Bill's yard has been certified with NWF since 1990. His backyard habitat number is 8280, today there are more than 140,000 people with certified backyards.

 Some people may think that you have to own a lot of land to provide suitable habitat for wildlife. Bill's yard is the perfect example illustrating how a relatively small area can provide rich opportunities for animals and great viewing for people. As a butterfly expert, Bill has concentrated on nectar producing plants. Along with hummingbirds and bees, Bill enjoys a plethora of butterflies winging their way to his doorstep for a meal.
 The colorful blooms brighten his front yard and is very appealing to the eyes for everyone. Spend even a few moments looking closer and you'll notice a living network where only grass once stood. "This project actually began as a way to cut down on my mowing time," admits Haley. "Some of the plants are in containers so they can be moved around as needed. There's something in bloom throughout the growning season."
 One surprise to some are the numerous pitcher plants in Bill's front yard.
 You can see pitcher plants in the Aquarium's Ocean Journey building in the Tropical Cove. To see so many in one yard is really quite a treat.
 Four things are needed for a certified backyard: food, water, shelter and places to raise young. During the workshop, Haley will give everyone ideas how to maximize your space to invite more wildlife into our lives.
 Bill's yard was recently featured on CNN. Jacqui Jeras produced a wonderful segment about backyard habitat that aired recently on CNN.
We hope to see you at the Backyard Habitat Workshop - Saturday, July 23rd at 2:30 pm. Make sure you arrive early to see two back-to-back bird shows in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari at 2:00 and 2:15 pm. Then move around the corner to the River Journey Auditorium for the workshop.

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