Leadership Projects

Current Projects

Beyond the Trail: A Walk Through History

Project Leader: Kaley Crawford

Community Partners: Timucuan Parks Foundation; National Park Service; Florida State Parks; City of Jacksonville Preservation Parks; Environmental Services, Inc.; First Coast Invasives Working Group; Kathy Stark, professional fine artist; Leslie Royce, former City of Jacksonville Park Naturalist

The Beyond the Trail Park Discovery Series gives students opportunities to learn about managing and protecting our local city, state and national parks. Students learn first-hand from park staff the management and operations of parks and preserves and the significant positive impact volunteers and community groups have to assist park management in overseeing the parks, including wildlife and natural resource protection. Each event highlights the history, culture, flora and fauna of each park. Students have opportunities to network with both private and public sector community business leaders, elected officials, and environmental leaders. Students also learn how to navigate the government system should their career interests lie in working for parks. 

Discovering Northeast Florida's "Special Places"

Project Leader: Sean Lahav
Community Partner: Public Trust Legal Institute of Florida; National Park Service; Florida State Parks; City of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation

This project will show and tell the stories of Northeast Florida's "Special Places" through a variety of original videos produced by the project leader. Each short clip will showcase all the exciting activities that can take place in each of the parks or preserves, including how to get there, utilizing both public, private and alternate transportation methods. Although all parks are located within the Duval County limits, a lot of them are off the "beaten path" and few local residents know about the extensiveness of the parks that surround them and the history and culture that is so much a part of Northeast Florida's identity. These videos will unlock those "secrets" and energize the Northeast Florida community to want to explore these incredible, unspoiled "last wilderness" tracts of Florida. 

Living Shorelines

Project Leader: Anna Kolodziejski

Community Partner: University of North Florida


Jacksonville is a city of bridges, which means waterways meander throughout the city, with the greatest body of water, the Atlantic Ocean which flanks our east coast. Living shorelines focuses on planting the right type of plants along shorelines, particularly bulkheads, revetment and concrete seawalls, to create a more natural bank stabilization which also processes pollutants that otherwise would drain directly into these waterways; protect surrounding riparian and inter-tidal environment; and, creates habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species.

River Kids - Connecting Kids to the River

Project Leader: Haley Camp

Community Partner: Nemours Children's Hospital  


Nemours Children's Hospital, a leader in providing excellent pediatric care, is located on the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. Thousands of children are treated at Nemours, many on a long term basis. Through arts and crafts, this project will connect these children to the St. Johns River, where they can have fun doing arts and crafts the relate to the river, thereby educating them about one of Jacksonville's greatest assets. Through this project, the intent is plant the seed for the next generation of environmental stewards who care about the health of the river and the importance of the river to ensure survival of not only the marine life, but all of us.

Tree Rx - Prescribing the "Right Tree, Right Place"

Project Leaders: Madison Masters, Daniel Norez and Kelly Rhoden 

Community Partner: Groundwork Jax

This project has two major components: 1) Tree canopy study and 2) Benefits of trees in relation to healthy communities. The focus area for this project is Springfield/Eastside of Jacksonville, which is a combination of preserved historical homes and light to heavy industry. 

The tree canopy study is being overseen by one project leader, UNF faculty and a team of community/student volunteers. The objective is to identify "opportunity" areas to plant trees. Utilizing GIS and a mobile application that defines certain criteria that determines the "right place," volunteers conduct the field work and enter the data into the application which populates a grid map of the area. Once all data has been entered, a map will be generated which will show these "opportunity" areas to plant trees. This information will be incorporated into a final report that can be included in a future master tree planting plan.

The second component of this project focuses on the benefits of trees, which includes health, eco-system services, crime prevention and property values. Extensive research has been conducted and a white paper is being developed which will be presented to an executive review panel. A community outreach/educational pamphlet will also be produced to assist residents and businesses in determining where to plant trees and recommending certain species that will enhance the benefits described in the white paper.

Sawmill Slough Preserve Ambassadors 

Project Leader: Kyle Kenney

Community Partner: Sawmill Slough Preserve    


The University of North Florida is home to a 382 acre nature preserve known as the Sawmill Slough Preserve. This project trains students to be "Preserve Ambassadors" who will help with events, provide information for guests on the trails and help collect information on usage of the trails and Preserve. 

Food Justice: Food Fighters 

Project Leader: Courtney Hogan 

Community Partner: Dr. Laurie Wright   


Currently about 40% of all food in the U.S. ends up rotting in a landfill uneaten. The Food Justice Project works with on-campus food vendors to create a plan to distribute unwanted food to soup kitchens and other shelters. The "Foo Fighter: Student-Powered Hunger Relief" club was created to support this project. This club enables students to become involved in the fight against hunger.  

On-Campus Outdoor Nation Ambassador  

Project Leader: Nikki Adams 

Community Partner: National Park Service 


The National Park Service preserves the natural and cultural park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. This project began when Nikki Adams was awarded an Outdoor Nation grant, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS). The objective of the project is to engage as many UNF students as possible in outdoor recreation by creating on-campus events and two high-profile NPS events. Social media promotion of the National Parks is a key component of the project.

    Past Projects