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Sawmill Slough in Spring

April 2015

State of the Preserve

Students and wildlife on the the PreserveJoin the Environmental Center for a friendly year-end social with short presentations about projects in the Sawmill Slough Preserve. The event will include a demonstration of the recently launched Preserve Digital Archive and a presentation on the history of the Preserve. The Digital Archive will be presented by Dr. Stuart Chalk, associate professor of chemistry, and Justin Lemmons, Environmental Center ecologist. The history of the Preserve will be presented by history graduate student Shannon Campbell.


The Digital Archive was developed by Dr. Stuart Chalk, in collaboration with Justin Lemmons and Preserve curator Chuck Hubbuch, plus additional help from Environmental Center student employees. The Digital Archive is a scientific and educational tool for sharing information about the diversity and years of research and management efforts within the Preserve. The Digital Archive includes original inventory lists of flora and fauna, photographic and taxonomic information published scientific research by UNF faculty and students and a downloadable PDF version of the book "Fight On! A Thirty-Year History of the Sawmill Slough Conservation Club", which was written by original club members.   


The event will also feature a presentation by Shannon Campbell, a history graduate student, discussing her research project on the history of the Preserve. Through interviews and delving into library collections, she has pieced together the history of the various attempts to protect portions of the campus and the events leading to the formal designation in 2006.


The Sawmill Slough Preserve is a 382-acre protected area on campus that acts as a living laboratory for research and education and is actively managed for biodiversity. The Preserve is a unique natural asset that enhances the UNF campus and student life. Come learn about the wonderful opportunities and natural resources the Preserve offers and what you can do to become part of the Preserve and Environmental Center team. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21, from 4-6 p.m. in Building 2, UNF Gallery of Art, room 1001. Beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served. Click here to download an event flyer. 

Visit the Digital Archive of the Sawmill Slough Preserve.

St. Johns River Transformational Learning Opportunity

During spring break, 12 students embarked on an eight-day adventure as part of the annual St. Johns River Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO). This was the ninth year the Environmental Center has offered the interdisciplinary learning experience focused on the St. Johns River. The objective of the St. Johns River TLO is to increase academic connections between disciplines and to actively promote synergistic collaboration among students from diverse academic backgrounds. This year's trip included students from chemistry, biology, psychology and history. 


Group photo from 2015 St. Johns River TLO


Students participating in the St. Johns River TLO are all required to enroll in a one-credit course that met weekly throughout the semester. The course included guest speakers, lab work and field trips to the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve and Jacksonville University's Marine Science Research Institute. Information presented in the course helped provide students with important background knowledge about the St. Johns River prior to the spring break experience. 

Collage of wildlife

The highlight of the St. Johns River TLO is the eight-day full immersion experience during spring break. Throughout the trip, students build connections with each other and nature. Every day is spent outdoors exploring state parks, springs and rivers. Students have the opportunity to swim in the springs and paddle the tributaries that flow into the St. Johns River and of course, explore the river itself. During the outings, students have the opportunity to view some of Florida's best wildlife including manatees, alligators, bald eagles and our favorite, the osprey!     


Students collecting water samplesIn addition to enjoying nature, the students collected water samples from the springs and St. Johns River. While on site, they tested for standard water quality parameters such as salinity and dissolved oxygen. The water samples they collected were brought back to UNF for atrazine analysis, a commonly used herbicide. Results from the study will be submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 

The St. Johns River is a unique experience for undergraduate students to make life-long friendships, develop a sense of place and build a connection to the wild side of Florida. 

Learn more about the St. Johns River Transformational Learning Opportunity

Environmental Center Student Spotlight

Biology major, Morgan MatchettMorgan Matchett, junior

Where are you from? Palm Bay, Fla.


Why did you come to UNF and what is your favorite part of campus?  It is a beautiful campus, and I love the Preserve. That has to be my favorite part.


What is your major? Biology


What is your job title? I am the volunteer and outreach coordinator.


What do you do at the Environmental Center? I have various jobs, from organizing events, posting upcoming events on social media and tabling at Market Days.


How did you get involved with the Environmental Center? I got involved through volunteering with the Environmental Center.  


What is your favorite Environmental Center activity? That is a hard choice, but Garbage on the Green is my favorite event.  


What is your favorite outdoor activity? Swimming and paddling 


What is you favorite type of animal and why? I love hedgehogs because I have one and they are so cute. 


If you could go anywhere and do anything tomorrow, what would you do? I would go cliff diving in Costa Rica!


Are you involved with any hobbies, clubs and volunteer activities? I love all outdoor activities and camping! I am not in any clubs officially, but I do enjoy going to meetings to see what they have to offer. Volunteering with children has to be one of my favorites, along with animals and the environment. 


What are your plans after graduation? I want to travel. 

Learn more about Environmental Center student employees

Textbook Collection

Textbook collectionAt the end of every semester, the Environmental Center collects unwanted textbooks from students and faculty. Last semester, we collected 238 pounds of textbooks! All collected books will be sent to Better World Books. A collection bin will be placed outside the UNF Bookstore from Monday, April 20, to Friday, May 1. As always, you can donate your books any time of the year in the Environmental Center office located in Building 1, J.J. Daniel Hall, room 2200. Faculty may request a pickup of textbooks from their office. 


For more information, please e-mail Kevin O'Halloran.

Environmental Center is Hiring Student Employees!

The Environmental Center is currently accepting applications for two available positions. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 15. Interviews will be scheduled on a first come, first serve basis. Apply early to reserve your interview. If you have any questions, please contact James Taylor.  


Communications Assistant

The communications assistant will support staff with communications efforts including a monthly newsletter, regular website updates and maintaining multiple social media pages. The communications assistant will have a set schedule but will be expected to attend a weekly staff meeting and events outside of normal business hours. 


Communications Assistant Application


Volunteer Coordinator

The volunteer coordinator will be primarily responsible for organizing volunteer events and recruiting student volunteers. The volunteer coordinator will assist professional staff organizing large events, such as Garbage on the Green, but will be expected to organize smaller events independently. The volunteer coordinator will be responsible for managing multiple student volunteers during events and maintain a safe and inclusive environment. The volunteer coordinator will maintain a volunteer website and send out regular communications to students.


Volunteer Coordinator Application

Learn more about student positions within the Environmental Center.

Earth Day Celebration

The Environmental Center has partnered with the St. Johns Riverkeeper and US Green Building Council North Florida Chapter to bring you some great events to celebrate our favorite day, Earth Day! 


McCoys Creek Cleanup

Join the Environmental Center and St. Johns Riverkeeper Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to noon, for a cleanup along McCoys Creek, which flows directly into the St. Johns River. The cleanup will also feature an invasive plant workshop hosted by the First Coast Invasive Working Group. Volunteers will meet at Hollybrook Park, at the intersection of Heywood Dowling Dr. and King St. No registration is required. Please wear closed-toe shoes. McCoys Creek Cleanup event information


Screening of 'Clean Bin Project'

Come out to Sun-Ray Cinema Wednesday, April 22, at 6 p.m., for a screening of "Clean Bin Project" hosted by the Environmental Center and US Green Building Council North Florida Chapter. In this multi-award winning festival favorite, partners Jen and Grant go head to head in a competition to see who can swear off consumerism and produce the least garbage. Their light-hearted competition is set against a darker examination of the waste problem. Information on Screening of 'Clean Bin Project'


Planet earth and a tree with a banner reading 'Earth Day April 22' Rising Tides logo USGBC North Florida logo FCIWG logo

Click here to find out more about upcoming events.

Climate Change and Its Effects on Wildlife

The Environmental Center and Sierra Club Northeast Florida Group will host a lecture by Carolyn Antman, member of the Florida Audubon Board of Directors Monday, April 13, at 7 p.m. at the Adam W. Herbert University Center. The talk will discuss a 2014 National Audubon Society scientific paper regarding birds and climate change, including changing food supplies and possible new migration routes. Discover what it may mean for birds in local backyards and what can be done to facilitate habitats in the changing climate.


Climate Change and Its Effect on Wildlife event information.

Last Call for the Environmental Center Photo Contest

Photo Contest CollageThe theme for this round of the Environmental Center's photo contest is "Spring is Blooming!" Send us photos of plants and trees from the Sawmill Slough Preserve, Robert W. Loftin Nature Trails and other on-campus natural areas. No photos from the core of campus will be considered for this contest.  


All students, faculty, staff and alumni are allowed to submit up to two photos. Please include the name of the photographer, classification (student, faculty, staff or alumni), major or department and the location the photo was taken. Descriptive captions are encouraged, but not required. Please submit your photos by e-mail to unfecenter@gmail.com no later than 5 p.m. Friday, April 17. 


All photos submitted will be uploaded to a contest album on the Environmental Center's Facebook page. Keep in mind, all photos uploaded to Facebook will become publicly available. Voting will be open from Monday, Apr. 20, to Friday Apr. 24, and the number of likes will determine the sole winner of the contest. The winner will receive two free day passes for entry into any Florida State Park and an Environmental Center T-shirt. 

View complete photo contest details.

Volunteer Opporunities

Keep Jacksonville Beautiful 

Keep Jacksonville Beautiful needs volunteers Friday, April 17, from 8-9:30 a.m. to help with a cigarette litter scan of certain areas in Jacksonville. Contact Dan Durbec for more details. 


Duval Audubon Society

Volunteers are needed Saturday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to noon, to assist with kid activities as part shorebird event. Contact Cicely Pontiflet at (904) 221.7567 ext. 117 for more details. 


Boardwalk Renovation at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Join Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation, JaxParks and the Northeast Florida Association of Environmental Professionals for a boardwalk renovation project at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. The boardwalk will be demolished Saturday, April 25, at 9 a.m., and the reconstruction will take place Saturday, May 2, at 9 a.m. Click here for details, or contact Felicia Boyd for more information. 

Find more volunteer opportunities.
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