Renee Hutchins, senior
Where are you from? Jacksonville, Fla.
Why did you come to UNF, and what is your favorite part about campus? I came to UNF because I have always heard good things about the University from other students. Plus, it is in my hometown, so I did not have to leave my family.
What is your major? Anthropology, with a public administration minor
What is your job title? Project leader
What do you do at the Environmental Center? Through the Environmental Center, I am working with the Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation to coordinate a series of events in our local parks with the focus of educating participants on the historical and environmental importance of the parks, as well as how parks are managed and collaborate with each other and affiliated entities.
How did you get involved with the Environmental Center? I volunteered at Garbage on the Green during the fall 2014 semester, and from there the Environmental Center helped me find an internship that is related to my interested career field.
What is your favorite outdoor activity? It is hard to choose just one! My favorites include camping, canoeing, kayaking and running.
What is your favorite animal and why? I think orcas are really interesting because they are extremely social animals. There are distinct differences between the sounds that the different family pods use when hunting, communicating, etc. I also think they are one of the scariest animals and prefer to appreciate them from afar.
If you could go anywhere and do anything tomorrow, what would you do? I would go hike either the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail from top to bottom.
Are you involved with any hobbies, clubs or volunteer activities? My hobbies include pretty much anything involving the outdoors or getting crafty. I do a lot of volunteer work through the Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation in local parks and preserves, including anything from trash pick-ups along trails to tree plantings after controlled burns.
What are your plans after graduation? I hope to become a park ranger with a state or national park.
Learn more about Environmental Center student employees
Special Opportunities from the Florida Springs Institute
The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute has two great upcoming opportunities for students to learn about Florida springs firsthand from experts and get involved with important research. The Florida Springs Institute (FSI) is dedicated to developing restoration and management goals for Florida springs and advocating for their protection and restoration.
The Florida Springs Institute is offering a summer field school to help educate college students about the importance and fragility of Florida springs. The credit-bearing course will be offered through FSU but is open to all Florida college students. The field school will take place at Wakulla Springs Lodge near Tallahassee and combines lectures and field trips. Meals will be provided for students during the field school. More.
During the next couple of months, FSI will be conducting baseline studies at the lower Ichetucknee River, the lower Rainbow River and the lower Wakulla River. They are looking for passionate volunteers to assist with the baseline studies, which include physical indicators, water quality and biological inventories. While having a biological sciences background is preferred, it is certainly not required. Experienced scientists will be leading each team, and all volunteers will receive training necessary to accomplish their portion of the project. Each study will take more than a week. Volunteers can assist for the entire study or a short duration. Dates and locations are below. Interested volunteers should contact FSI by e-mail.
Ichetucknee River — Monday, July 20, through Friday, July, 31
Rainbow River — Monday, Aug. 31, through Friday, Sept. 11
Wakulla River — Monday, Oct. 12, through Friday, Oct. 23
Environmental Center staff might attending one or more of the volunteer events. Please contact James Taylor for carpooling information.
Visit the Florida Springs Institute's website for information.
UNF Goes Smoke Free
In order to create a healthier campus environment for all of our students, faculty, staff and visitors, the University of North Florida will become a designated smoke-free campus starting Saturday, Aug. 1.
UNF is joining a national movement in creating a smoke-free environment on college campuses. The Breathe Fresh at UNF, Smoke-Free inititative builds on a 2011 survey by the Department of Health Promotion that determined the campus community overwhelmingly supports adopting a smoke-free campus environment. That survey reflects the University's ongoing support of an environmentally beautiful campus, one free from second-hand smoke and cigarette butts littering the grounds. A full list of policies and regulations about the Smoke-Free Initiative is available online.
The Healthy Osprey Ambassadors are pleased to offer Breathe Fresh at UNF orientations. The brief 15-minute presentation will provide an overview of the smoke-free regulation and discuss available options for anyone who wants to quit smoking. If you are interested in scheduling a presentation for your group, department or class, please contact the Department of Health Promotion by e-mail or at (904) 620-1570.
Smoke-free Campus Initiative website
Cigarette Butt Cleanup
Sponsors: Department of Health Promotion, Healthy Osprey and Environmental Center
When: Friday, July 17, at noon
Where: Meet in the Student Union breezeway
Did you know cigarette butts are a significant type of pollution? Not only are cigarette butts the most common type of litter found on roadways and beaches, they also contain many harsh toxins that can leach into the environment, harming wildlife. Furthermore, cigarette butts are made from a type of plastic and never decompose.
As part of the Smoke-Free Campus Initiative, which begins Saturday, Aug. 1, the University will be removing all ash receptacles from campus. In an effort to help ensure our campus remains beautiful and litter-free, the Environmental Center is teaming up with Health Promotion to organize cigarette butt cleanups. Students, faculty and staff are all encouraged to participate. All supplies and water will be provided for volunteers. Please bring a reusable water bottle to help reduce waste.
Join the Facebook event for details
Green Carpet Film Series
Sponsors: US Green Building Council North Florida Chapter and Environmental Center
When: Tuesday, July 21, at 6 p.m.
Where: Corazon Cinema and Café map, St. Augustine
Come out to Corazon Cinema and Café for a screening of "Who Owns Water?" In this stunningly shot, award-winning documentary film, brothers Michael and David Hanson return to the source of their childhood river and paddle it to the Gulf of Mexico to take you deep into the water wars. Everything comes down to one question — Who owns water? Stick around after the film for a panel discussion featuring local experts, including the Matanzas Riverkeeper Neil Armingeon.
Green Carpet Film Series event details.
Jacksonville Environmental Symposium
Sponsors: City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and Environmental Center
When: Friday, Aug. 14, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Adam W. Herbert University Center
Registration is now open for the 2015 Jacksonville Environmental Symposium! The theme for the 2015 symposium is "City of Jacksonville — 50 Years of Environmental Stewardship."
The Jacksonville Environmental Symposium presents a unique opportunity for members of the community to interact with the regulatory agencies responsible for developing and implementing environmental policy. The symposium provides valuable opportunities for communication and helps to further the goal of protecting our limited natural resources and improving the quality of life in Northeast Florida. The event features opening, lunch and closing general sessions, as well as a number of breakout sessions on topics of interest.
The symposium also features the release of the annual State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin. The report is produced by faculty from UNF and Jacksonville University.
For more information and event registration, visit the Environmental Protection Board website.
Community Volunteer Opportunities
Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation Summer Projects
Sponsor: Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation
The Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation has volunteer projects set during the summer at various parks throughout Jacksonville. They are looking for volunteers to assist with trail maintenance, butterfly garden maintenance and picking up litter. This is a great opportunity to explore some of Jacksonville's best parks and make a difference in the community. Details for all Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation volunteer events are below:
Friday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to noon at Otis Road Trailhead of the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail
Friday, Aug. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon at Hanna Park
McCoys Creek Cleanup Summertime Special
Sponsors: St. Johns Riverkeeper and Rising Tides
When: Thursday, July 16, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: Bold City Brewery
The summer heat can be hard for cleanups on the creek, so come enjoy this special evening cleanup. Volunteers will meet at Bold City Brewery to gather supplies then walk toward McCoys Creek, removing the trash along the streets. This trash all leads directly to McCoys Creek during rainstorms. Prizes donated by Bold City Brewery will be awarded for largest item and most unusual find. After the cleanup, enjoy a cold pint in the taproom! No registration required, but join the Facebook event to get updates.
Find more volunteer opportunities.
UNF Ogier Garden Movie Night
Sponsor: UNF Ogier Gardens
When: Wednesday, July 15, at 8 p.m.
Where: Building 55, Osprey Fountains North Tower, Multipurpose Room #2
Enjoy a screening of the film "Symphony of the Soil" hosted by the Ogier Gardens. The film examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil's key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents and featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, "Symphony of the Soil" is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet. Free organic popcorn will be available! Movie night event details
Save Our Water Pub Crawl
Sponsor: St. Johns Riverkeeper, Rising Tides and SweetWater Brewing Company
When: Sunday, July 19, from 2-8 p.m.
Where: Starts at Mellow Mushroom, Avondale
Cost: $10 suggested donation, free for members of the Rising Tides
The Save Our Water pub crawl is part of SweetWater Brewing Company's annual Save Our Water campaign that kicks off on July 4th and runs through Labor Day. Participating local restaurants and bars will be raising awareness about the importance of clean water as they compete to see who can cover their walls with the most paper fish donations to benefit the St. Johns River. The pub crawl starts on the patio of Mellow Mushroom at 2 p.m. and includes stops at The Silver Cow, Dahlia's Pour House, ZenCog, AleWife Craft Beer and Bottle Shop and ends at O'Brother's Irish Pub. At the end of the crawl, a brand new kayak will be raffled off. Bikes are encouraged! Pub crawl event information
MOCA Book Club
Sponsor: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville
When: Thursday, July 30, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Where: MOCA Jacksonville
The MOCA Jacksonville book club is reading "Losing It All to Sprawl: How Progress Ate my Cracker Landscape." The book examines urban sprawl and its effect on the environment in the Sunshine State. In the book, author Bill Belleville, a Florida native, tells the story of his historic farmhouse and the destruction of place. MOCA is a cultural resource of the University of North Florida. MOCA book club details
Full Moon Kayak and Camp
Sponsors: St. Johns Riverkeeper and Rising Tides
When: Saturday, July 31, at 7 p.m.
Where: Dutton Island Preserve
Cost: Free to kayak, $5 to camp
Kayaking under the bright light of the full moon as it reflects on the water is a unique and exciting experience. Join the Rising Tides, a group for community-minded young professionals who want to help support the St. Johns Riverkeeper, for this fun evening on the water followed by optional camping. Participants are responsible to bring their own kayak, food and camping essentials. If you do not have a kayak, please contact Alicia Smith about available kayaks. Students may also check out kayaks and canoes from Eco-Adventures for off-campus use. Full moon kayak and camp event information
Save the Ferry Bike Ride
Sponsor: St. Johns Riverkeeper, Rising Tides, Friends of the Ferry and others
When: Saturday, Aug. 9, at 9 a.m.
Where: Riders will meet at Mellow Mushroom, Jacksonville Beach
Cost: $20 suggested donation
Come out and support the St. Johns River Ferry in the 4th annual Save the Ferry bike ride. Riders will meet at Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville Beach and ride the nine miles to the St. Johns River Ferry. After a nice break and a ride across the river, riders will head back to Mellow Mushroom. Registration includes a sleeveless shirt (requires preregistration), ferry fare and for riders 21 and over, a free pint from SweetWater Brewing Company upon return to Mellow Mushroom. All bikes are welcome. Keep in mind the trip is nine miles each way, so be prepared! Visit the St. Johns Riverkeeper's website for registration and more details.