St. Johns River 

Transformational Learning Opportunity

The St. Johns River Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO) is one of the cornerstone programs of the Environmental Center. During the trip students embark on a 9-day journey set on the St. Johns River. Students will spend their days visiting the majestic springs that feed the river, while learning about its rich history. Every Year at Blue Spring, folk singers and artists bring their art and share unique stories about the river. Students will get an opportunity to work with and learn from scientists and environmental professionals from around the state.  

  • What is the TLO? A unique teaching and learning experience that takes place on the St. Johns River, an American Heritage River
  • Is there a cost to participate? Yes, students must pay $250 to participate in the St. Johns River TLO. 
  • When is the TLO? March 14 - March 21, 2015
  • What prerequisite do I need? Students who are interested in participating in the St. Johns River TLO must have a very positive attitude, work well with diverse groups and be open to new experiences. Students will also need to be comfortable being outdoors for extended periods of time and be able to swim. 
  • What is required to participate? Applicants may come from any academic background, but must be a current UNF undergraduate student in good academic standing. While on the trip, students are required to participate in group activities, including pre-trip meetings, group discussions and interacting with speakers. Students are also required to complete an individual project based on their academic discipline. 
  • Is the TLO a class? This experience is not a standard class, but students will be expected to work with a faculty member from their discipline on an individual project. 

Recruitment for the 2015 St. Johns River TLO will begin in September and participants will be selected by in November. To apply, please complete and submit the application below by email to James Taylor or deliver to the Environmental Center Building 1, Room 2200


St. Johns River TLO Application  

St. Johns River TLO Experience

The St. Johns River

TLO River


The St. Johns River is one of Florida's most magnificant natural features and was designated by President Clinton as one of only 14 American Hertiage Rivers. The St. Johns River is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish including manatees, ospreys, bald eagles, alligators and many, many more. While on the trip, students will experience the beauty of the river first hand and leave the trip with a new found appreciation for the St. Johns River. 


TLO Adventure


A number of trips are planned throughout the St. Johns River TLO, so students may experience the many springs and tributaries that feed the St. Johns River. These trips are off the beaten path and allow students to experience some of the most beautiful and unique natural features associated with the St. Johns River. A long-time student favorite is the all-day canoe trip down Rock Springs Run. 

Art, Music and Culture



To help the students experience the St. Johns River's cultural significance, there is always a full day during the trip dedicated to art and music.  Students will hear from artists who draw inspiration from the natural environment and listen to folk singers sing about the River's rich history.




During the trip students will get an opportunity to interact with a variety of river experts from around the state. Each day features a speaker from a wide range of backgrounds. One day you could learn about the rich history of the river, and the next you could be learning about how pollution adversely affects the river.


Past speakers include:

  • Dr. Gerry Pinto, Jacksonville University biology faculty
  • Neil Armegeon, former Riverkeeper
  • Dr. Cliff Ross, UNF biology faculty
  • Dr. Keith Ashley, UNF anthropology faculty
  • Dr. Robert Knight, H.T. Odum Springs Institute
  • Jim Draper, painter 
Academic Projects
TLO Project


Each student who participates in the St. Johns River TLO is expected to complete a project related to their discipline. The student will work with a professor from the academic discipline and complete a direct independent study. For example, a biology student may examine the water quality of the river, while an art student may create a portfolio while on the trip.