Naturalists welcome to 55th Fall Rally

For 55 years the Fall Naturalists Rally has drawn nature enthusiasts from far and wide to this jewel of the southern Appalachians on the weekend after Labor Day! The best naturalists in the region volunteer their time and energy to make this event a landmark event for people of all ages.

This fall rally continues to celebrate the natural world by providing two top speakers, Ranger Marty Silver, environmental educator and conservation officer for Tennessee State Parks and Dr Andy Jones, Ornithologist and Director of Science at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Because of the continued support of the Friends of Roan Mountain, all the Naturalists Rallies have the resources they need to prosper and grow. Consider joining the Friends of Roan Mountain, if you are not a member. Members
get free admission to all Naturalists Rally events and our newsletter, “Friends of Roan Mountain.”

Evening and lunch programs will take place in Roan Mountain State Park’s Conference Center and field trips will leave from the field on the left before the cabins in the park.

Using Sequences, Songs, and Serendipity to Understand Eastern North American Birds – Dr Andy Jones

Dr. Andy Jones has worked at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for more than a decade. He was hired in 2006 as the William A. and Nancy R. Klamm Endowed Chair of Ornithology, thanks to a donation from the Klamms to the museum. In 2011, he was also named Director of Science, overseeing all activities in the Collections & Research Division. As a curator, Dr. Jones is responsible for the Museum’s collection of avian specimens, which consists of more than 30,000 study skins from around the world plus a frozen tissue collection, skeletons, and nests and eggs. He is also responsible for specimen acquisition and preservation, maintenance of specimen records, and carrying out original research. His current research involves the evolutionary history of birds from the Appalachian mountains and the Philippines, as well as various other natural history topics. Dr. Jones was among 14 prominent American ornithologists to be named an Elective Member of the American Ornithologists’ Union in 2009, and he was elected as Secretary of that organization in 2015. He originally hails from Kingsport, where his passion for natural history began at an early age (including field notes starting at age 5). Dr. Jones received his BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and his PhD in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. He lives in Cleveland Heights, OH, with his wife Michelle Leighty-Jones and their rascally hound, Ivor.

Program Description: The southern Appalachians are home to tremendous biodiversity, thanks in part to the high elevation habitats that resemble the forests and wetlands of Canada. These high elevation populations of plants and
animals are small offshoots of more widespread species. During the Pleistocene glaciation cycles, the forests of Canada were covered in deep ice. Did these plants and animals survive by remaining in the ice-free southern Appalachians? By using DNA sequences, we are able to uncover their evolutionary history and understand where
these species spent these glacial cycles. With my collaborators, we are looking into the history of several familiar birds of the southern Appalachians. For one species, the Veery, we are also studying their ethereal song, looking at how their songs differ throughout the Appalachians. Along the way we discovered that their songs are even more complicated that anyone realized. In addition to our work in the Appalachians, we have stumbled across several new hybrids of North American bird species, including a warbler hybrid that seems to be increasing in eastern North
American forests.

Birds of Prey – Ranger Marty Silver

Ranger Marty Silver has worked as an environmental educator and conservation officer for Tennessee State Parks for more than 38 years, most of that time at Warriors’ Path State Park. He is responsible for the park’s interpretive
programming, resource protection, trail maintenance, habitat management, and outdoor education. He works with people of all ages, especially school children, and shares nature discovery and conservation awareness with over 30,000 students each year. He also has presented numerous teacher training workshops, and has received a number of state-wide and national Environmental Education awards. He and his wife Chris have 6 grown children and 8 rapidly growing grandchildren.

Program Description: Here’s your chance to get “up close and personal” with some native wildlife. Come see (and perhaps even touch) some captive raptors. Each of these birds has a unique story to tell – both of their role in the ecosystem, and of the injuries that brought them into captivity. These birds are non-releasable because they can no longer survive in the wild. But, they can (with a little help from Ranger Silver) share new insights into how each of us can play a role in resource protection through nature education. So come to enjoy the birds, but also come to be encouraged to share your spark of nature appreciation with others.

For questions, please contact the director of the rally, Gary Barrigar, at 423-543-7576 or email


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