Knoxville’s Ijams Nature Center names interim director

Bo Townsend
Bo Townsend

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Ijams Nature Center has named a new interim director, following the resignation of Executive Director Paul James last week.

The interim is Bo Townsend, and if his name sounds familiar, there’s a good reason.

Previous story: Ijams Nature Center executive director announces resignation

“It’s been awhile, but I’ve been here before,” said Townsend, who was the director for a decade, 16 years ago. “The staff has almost completely changed. There are a few people I know from way back when.”

Monday is his first day back on the job. Even though he’s only planning to serve as interim director for a few months, Townsend is hitting the ground running and says he’s excited to be back.

“Interestingly enough I got a call from someone wanting to partner with the center and I’ve been here two hours,” he joked. “So words getting out and I think there are going to be a lot of opportunities to meet with the community.”

Meanwhile, the search for a permanent director is underway.

“Ijams has become a very unique creature. It’s more than just going over there and looking at nature. That still exists but there’s also outdoor adventure and partnerships and different components,” said Kim Bumpas, Chair of the Ijams board. “As we look to a new director, we’re looking for someone that’s very diversified and wants to address all of those things as it relates to Ijams.”

“I’d just like to do whatever I can to help in this transition,” said Townsend. “That’s my main focus is to help this transition to be smooth for the staff, the board and the community.”

If you’re interested in becoming the new executive director, email Kim Bumpas at

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