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 $200 to participate in the St. Johns River TLO. 
  • Is the TLO a class? This experience is not a standard class, but students will be expected to enroll in a one-credit lab which will meet Wednesdays from 1-3:50 p.m. 
  • When is the TLO? The trip takes place during spring break from Saturday March 14 to Saturday 21. Keep in mind students will also be required to meet Wednesdays from 1-3:50 p.m.
  • What is required to participate? The St. Johns River TLO is open to all undergraduate students at UNF in good academic standing. 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. 

Recruitment for the 2015 St. Johns River TLO is now open! To apply, please complete the application by the deadline Friday, Oct. 31. There are a limited number of spots available on this trip and the application process is competitive. All applicants will be interviewed in early November and a decision will be made by Wednesday, Nov. 19.


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 magnificent natural features and was designated by President Clinton as one of only 14 American Heritage 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


All students who participate are required to enroll in a one-credit upper level laboratory course, which is open to all students and has no prerequisites. Students will learn about the St. Johns River and analyze water samples collected during the eight-day trip. In addition to the lab work, the course will feature guest speakers and field trips. Each student who participates in the St. Johns River TLO will be expected to do a final presentation on a topic of their choice related to the St. Johns River.