2018 Holiday Gift Guide

December 12th, 2018

We here at Reflection Riding put a lot of value in giving. It’s important, whether you’re donating winter jackets to a coat drive or finding a new toy for your dog. But it’s not just an activity — it’s an attitude. It means spending time and resources on finding something perfect, just to make someone else happy. And as we are well aware, sometimes that can be incredibly hard! We’d like to help you out, so below are suggestions for everyone on your list this year. 

Give Fun

Portable Jawbone Speaker

Portable speakers are great for pretty much any situation, whether you’re camping or having a classy dinner party. Atmosphere is everything! JBL and iHome have great options, but you can find a decent-quality speaker at any price point. 

Silent Auction Gifts

We have tons of great gift ideas to bid for on our silent auction page! You can bid on unique experiences at Reflection Riding and local gifts from our community partners. Find everything from Milk & Honey gift cards to a "Beer With A Bobcat" tour, but hurry up - the auction ends on December 19!

Yoga Mat

Sometimes the world is stressful. Everyone knows someone who could use a little time to decompress, and getting on the mat could do the trick. Brands like Jade Yoga, Manduka, and Prana are companies that use sustainable materials and environmentally friendly processes when making their mats.

Reflection Riding Membership

Come hang out with us! We have plenty of hikes, canoes, animals, and running trails to keep your family and friends busy for the whole year. With a Reflection Riding membership, you aren't just passively buying an experience - you're also supporting environmental learning and enriching the Reflection Riding community by adding yourself or your loved ones to it!

Give useful


Unfortunately, we all rely on our phones a lot these days. But they don’t have to distract you from experiencing real life! Music, directions, and camera abilities can all be a great part of exploring, and a recharger is a useful tool to have when you’re not by an outlet for a couple of days (or weeks, or months…).

Camp Chair

Great for camping, but also for music festivals, outdoor movie screenings, impromptu picnics, and a lot more. Our team enjoys a lightweight, easy-to-fold chair (like this one) for backpacking. For everyday use, try gifting something padded and comfortable instead. And of course, hammocks aren't technically chairs, but ENO's DoubleNest Hammock makes a great couple's gift.


Who doesn’t need a headlamp (or even a second headlamp)? They’re as good for hiking and camping as they are for outdoor laser tag. If you're buying a headlamp for someone else, you'll want to consider how they'll be using the gadget. Price point, weight, brightness, and beam length can vary wildly from model to model; lucky for you, Switchback Travel wrote a guide to some of their top choices.


What can we say? The items on this list have many uses. None may come in handy quite as often as a multitool, and it’s something anyone can find useful. Our facilities director Tim says, "You can't go wrong with Gerber." For a deluxe experience, we also like the Leatherman Signal because it comes with so many tools, including a safety whistle and fire-starting rod!

Give learning

Oli Kai

James Howard and his family created this book after bringing our crow ambassador home to Reflection Riding. Oli Kai teaches children about purpose, patience, and adventure. All proceeds benefit Reflection Riding, and what could be more fun than reading this with your kids and then meeting the main character in person? While they last, we'll have a limited number available at the Welcome Center for $15 each.

Local Field Guide

If you have a grandfather with a passion for ornithology, or an aunt who can’t get enough of wildflowers, look no further than a local field guide. Find an easily portable one and they can take their knowledge to the next level and learn more about their surroundings wherever they go. 

Five Star Trails: Chattanooga

According to one staff member’s mother, Five Star Trails is the best trail book out there for Chattanooga. Hikes are broken down by difficulty and terrain, but also by views. Whether you want a brief but uphill hike to a spectacular waterfall or a nice long one that reveals one of the best bird’s-eye views of the city, this book has you covered.


Learning doesn’t just mean books! Giving someone an experience they’ve been wanting to try could be the most exciting "thing" they unwrap this year. Some of our favorite local ideas include classes at The Chattery, renting a SUP or kayak, or arranging a behind-the-scenes tour with us. To make the gifted experience even more memorable, plan to tag along and enjoy the day together!

give back

Red Wolf Foundation

Red wolf policies have made some strides this year, but red wolves are still critically endangered and need our support. Give to our red wolf program at Reflection Riding, or click here to adopt a red wolf pack at the Endangered Wolf Center. If you've got family or friends who also care about the cause, consider donating in their honor - then let them know how they inspired you to give!

Native Plants

Add beauty to someone’s life while benefiting our local ecosystem and pollinators! This list includes plants that are great for anyone living in Chattanooga - be it person, bee, or butterfly. 

Our Wish List

If you’re really in the mood for giving, why not check out the Reflection Riding wish list? You'll find everything from raptor carriers for our animal ambassadors to classroom equipment for the under-served students who come for field trips. We'll also be adding to this list throughout the year - be sure to check back anytime you're in the mood for giving back. Thank you for your support!

Posted by Bess Turner  | Category: Giving

Goodbye to the Box, our trusty Honda Element. From hauling plants to road trips with red wolves and owls, the Box has been our outreach vehicle for a number of years and served us well. Unfortunately, after a series of events it has been totaled and can no longer safely transport our wildlife, plants, and staff around Chattanooga. This is a huge problem for us, as many relied on it -- from getting animals to the vet to transporting educators and materials to schools. 

As for now, we have leased a stow-and-go van that has been a great replacement so far and has in many ways been even better for the tasks at hand than the Box ever was. But this is still just a short-term solution, and for the sake of continuing our mission we have determined that it needs to be made permanent.

So as Giving Tuesday is fast approaching, we have shifted our focus from general fundraising to one point: buying a van. For those of you unfamiliar with Giving Tuesday, it is on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, to kick off the charitable season and to celebrate philanthropy and giving back. We are lucky enough to live in a city so wonderful and philanthropic that it ranked in the top 15 last year for most generous cities in America! And because Chattanooga is so generous, it has its own version of Giving Tuesday: CHAgives. CHAgives is the local version of Giving Tuesday, focused on making the 27th as big and beneficial as it can possibly be. We are one of many organizations involved, and it all culminates in a pop-up at Miller Plaza (not to mention a breakfast we will be hosting beforehand). 

At Reflection Riding we believe it is important to give where you live. Therefore, we are setting our goal at $20,000 for Giving Tuesday (see our giving "thermometer" pictured on the left), in order to continue benefiting and participating in the Chattanooga community that we love so much. By helping us raise money for this van you are not only showing how much you care for Reflection Riding itself, but also for wildlife education, native plant restoration, animal conservation, and making sure a green space in the heart of Chattanooga can thrive. 

We offer our thanks for all the continued support, and would also like to extend an invitation to our #CHAgives breakfast before the festivities at Miller Plaza.

About the Author:

Bess Turner graduated from Tulane University in 2018 with a BA in English, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies, where she also worked for the Tulane Hullabaloo and the Undergraduate Student Government Sustainability Committee. When she's not writing for Reflection Riding you can find her on the mat, hiking, reading, and searching for the best veggie burger in Chattanooga. 

You can follow Bess on Instagram @bess_turner

Posted by Bess Turner  | Category: Giving

“If you go out and look around, really look carefully, you'll find that the Chattanooga area is home to a great diversity of native plant species,” said John Evans, director of horticulture here at Reflection Riding. Due to the climate history and the geography of the area, this unique city contains habitat types spanning from upland forests to grasslands, wetlands to mountain coves. “This diversity not only gives us plenty to explore, but also plenty to choose from when selecting native plants for our gardens and landscapes,” Evans said.

The 317 acres of Reflection Riding contains its own diverse array of plants, all under the care of Evans. As manager of the native plant nursery, Evans is responsible for producing enough native plants to make a difference on the property as the horticulture team restores habitats and maintains established gardens.

“Growing native plants from seeds is a complex process that involves planning several seasons in advance,” Evans said. “It requires a considerable amount of labor too, and we are fortunate to have a number of dedicated volunteers excited to participate in the effort.”
Native species in Chattanooga are facing a number of threats, especially from invasive exotic plants. Introduced either unintentionally as passengers in international trade or deliberately for a variety of reasons, most exotic species do not become invasive. But some of these species begin to have negative impacts on the environment, and outcompete native species (Are you interested in helping Reflection Riding manage invasive exotic species? Check our Eventbrite for more information about privet pulling sessions, to which we dedicate each Tuesday evening).

The largest threat to Chattanooga’s native species though, is what native species all over the world are facing now: habitat loss. 

“The single greatest threat to biodiversity is habitat loss. As human population grows at an exponential rate, we have no choice but to occupy more space, and we seem to do it in the least efficient ways possible…” Evans said. “Sure, after we bulldoze the fields and forests, put in the roads, and build the houses, we often put a lot into landscaping so we can surround ourselves with what we perceive as a natural-feeling environment. But a monoculture lawn is not a meadow, and planting the same few exotic ornamental tree species throughout the neighborhood does not re-create a forest. The plant diversity that was once there is now gone.”

One way that Evans recommends being conscious of Chattanooga’s native species and supportive of biodiversity is by using natives in the home landscape. This not only supports plant diversity, but also native wildlife like insect pollinators, birds, and small mammals. Evans’ work supports this as well, by producing the native species for the bi-annual Reflection Riding plant sale that funds the nursery’s operation.

“We see it as our role to provide as many native plant species as possible to the local community. Currently we grow about 200 native plant species, and we are pushing the number further all the time,” Evans said. “Twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, we have a major native plant sale where the public can come and select from our collection. These native plant sales have been a Chattanooga tradition for over 30 years and serve as gathering points for native plant enthusiasts throughout the region.”

Reflection Riding is currently looking to fill a staff horticulturist position. Ideally this is a person with horticultural skills and a familiarity with native plants, who is enthusiastic about working in outdoor conditions. The job will include such tasks as seed collection and processing, propagation, care of plants in the nursery, general gardening activities, invasive plant management, habitat restoration and management, and housekeeping around the nursery. If you are interested in being a part of the Reflection Riding team, send a personal statement and resume to [email protected].

About the Author

Bess Turner graduated from Tulane University in 2018 with a BA in English, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies, where she also worked for the Tulane Hullabaloo and the Undergraduate Student Government Sustainability Committee. When she's not writing for Reflection Riding you can find her on the mat, hiking, reading, and searching for the best veggie burger in Chattanooga. 

You can follow Bess on Instagram @bess_turner

Posted by Bess Turner

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