Due to a heat index exceeding 90 degrees, the Millennium Trail and Elm Lick Trail will remain closed until further notice.

Bringing it All Back Home

By Jenny Zeller

By Environmental Artist in Residence Carla Rhodes

This beautiful baby otter was captured in the natural areas at Bernheim. Otter by Carla Rhodes.

Growing up in the Louisville area, I never had the pleasure of visiting Bernheim. After spending a lifetime away in the New York City area (and now the Catskill Mountains, New York), as Bernheim’s first-ever Environmental Artist in Residence, I’m thrilled to see Bernheim for the first time and all the flora and fauna that inhabit it.

Eastern Redbuds at sunset. Redbuds by Carla Rhodes.

During my first residency spring stint, my breath was taken away by the copious amounts of spring buds, especially eastern redbuds, which I captured with a flaming pink sky and extremely rare Kentucky glade cress on Bernheim’s Cedar Grove tract. Everyone I met at Bernheim made my first visit incredibly special.

The rare Kentucky Glade Cress as documented on Bernheim’s Cedar Grove tract. Glade Cress by Carla Rhodes.

I loved spending time with Volunteer Naturalist Joe Cichan, Bernheim’s resident amphibian expert who has been involved with Bernheim for more than 20 years.

Bernheim Naturalist Joe Cichan has been studying and monitoring salamanders for many years in the Forest. Joe C. by Carla Rhodes.

I watched as he gently picked through the moss and unveiled four-toed salamander eggs from a rare and isolated population that Joe monitors at Bernheim, which glistened in the spring sun like otherworldly pearls.

Salamander eggs spotted by Bernheim Naturalist and Amphibian Ambassador Joe Cichan. Joe C. Amphibians by Carla Rhodes.

Teaming up with the Natural Areas staff was another highlight, and they helped me immensely. We were thrilled to photographically capture a beaver and, shockingly, an American bittern via camera traps. The American bittern is a secretive migrant not often seen at Bernheim.

The American Bittern has not been reported at Bernheim in over 70 years! Bittern by Carla Rhodes.

I cannot wait for my further visits to discover the gems within Bernheim and am immensely grateful for the opportunity to elevate all things wild while helping to further Bernheim’s mission of connecting people with nature through the photographic art form!


Beavers are nature’s engineers and fascinating creatures to see in the wild! Beaver by Carla Rhodes.


Through the powerful medium of photography, Carla Rhodes connects viewers emotionally to our natural world and the wildlife who inhabit it. Rhodes’s self-produced coverage has been featured in The New York Times, bioGraphic, National Wildlife Magazine, Smithsonian (online), The Guardian, and Audubon Magazine. In 2021, Rhodes was awarded the “Conservation Award” from Bird Photographer of the Year, honored for her conservation work in Nature’s Best Photography International Awards, and has been featured on National Geographic’s social media outlets on three different occasions.

The Artist in Residence program has attracted artists from around the world who seek to use Bernheim as their inspiration. Established in 1980, this internationally renowned program annually awards artists the opportunity to live and create site-specific work inspired by their total immersion experience in the natural environment. Work created through the program allows our visitors to connect with nature in new and exciting ways.


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