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Sawmill Slough in Spring

June 2015

Student Spotlight

Biology major Matt GrothMatt Groth, junior


Where are you from? I am originally from Ft. Lauderdale, but I have lived in Jacksonville for the past two years.

Why did you come to UNF, and what is your favorite part of campus? I wanted to come to a smaller school and really loved how the school is set right in the middle of a preserve.

What is your major? Biology

What is your job title? Assistant ecologist

What do you do at the Environmental Center? I assist the ecologist developing the Sawmill Slough Preserve Digital Archive. Also, I helped start a native plant project in the greenhouse to try and get plants native to Jacksonville into the trade. 

How did you get involved with the Environmental Center? I met the ecologist, Justin Lemmons, and what he did really interested me. I started volunteering with him, and we would do species identification, fish trapping and water quality tests. 

What is your favorite Environmental Center activity? I really like when we find a new species and try to identify it. 

What is your favorite outdoor activity? I love going to the beach. 

What is your favorite type of animal and why? I have always been a dog person. A dog can always put a smile on your face! 

If you could go anywhere and do anything tomorrow, what would you do? I would take a trip around the world and explore different cultures. 

Are you involved with any hobbies, clubs and volunteer activities? In addition to working at the Environmental Center, I also work in the greenhouse in the Biological Sciences Building. 

What are your plans after graduation? My plan is to never stop learning! 

Learn more about Environmental Center student employees

Environmental Center Photo Contest

Photo contest winner and submitted photoOur last photo contest of the year wrapped up in April, and we had some really great submissions! The theme for the contest was "Spring is Blooming!," and we solicited photos of blooming plants and trees found in the Sawmill Slough Preserve. The winning photo was submitted by biology senior Kacie Smith. 


We started the photo contests this year to help highlight our beautiful and biologically diverse campus. Students, faculty, staff and alumni submitted amazing photos for each of the contests, which had different themes. Feel free to check out all the photos submitted this year on our Facebook page. Be sure to like us while you are there! 


Fall 2014 (inaugural photo contest): Photos of plants, animals and landscapes that highlight our beautiful campus


February 2015: How do you enjoy the Sawmill Slough Preserve?


April 2015: Spring is blooming! 

Visit our website for more information about the photo contests.

'Silenced Springs' Book Release with Dr. Robert L. Knight

Sponsors: Florida Springs Institute and Environmental Center

When: Friday, June 26, from 6-8 p.m.

Where: Adam W. Herbert University Center

Cost: Free and open to the public


Join the Environmental Center as we welcome Dr. Robert L. Knight, executive director of the Florida Springs Institute. Dr. Knight has more than 35 years of experience as an aquatic and wetland ecologist in Florida. Through his work with the Florida Springs Institute, he has developed restoration plans for Wakulla Springs, Ichetucknee Springs, the Santa Fe River springs, Silver Springs and Rainbow Springs. At the book release event, Dr. Knight will speak about the current condition of Florida's springs, opportunities for restoration and his newest book "Silenced Springs: Moving from Tragedy to Hope." Guests will have an opportunity to meet Dr. Knight and purchase a copy of "Silenced Springs." You can purchase a copy of the book prior to the event directly from the Florida Springs Institute website

Book release event details.

Volunteer Opportunities

McCoys Creek Cleanup

Sponsor: St. Johns Riverkeeper 

When: Wednesday, June 17, from 5:30-7 p.m.

Where: Intuition Ale Works


The summer heat can be hard for morning cleanups on the creek, so join the St. Johns Riverkeeper for a summertime special evening cleanup. Volunteers will meet at Intuition Ale Works to gather supplies then walk toward McCoys Creek, removing trash along the streets. Afterwards, volunteers will enjoy the taproom at Intuition. No registration is required. Please wear closed-toe shoes. McCoys Creek cleanup event information


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, June 26, from 9 a.m. to noon at Reddie Point Preserve  

Friday, July 10, from 9 a.m. to noon at Nathan Krestul Park 

Friday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to noon at Otis Road Trailhead of Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail

Friday, Aug. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon at Hanna Park

Find more volunteer opportunities.

Community Events

Florida Native Plant Society Field Trip

SponsorIxia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) 

When: Saturday, June 20, at 9 a.m.

WhereGuana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR)
Cost: Event is free and open to the public. $3 parking fee. 


The Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society is hosting a field trip to GTMNERR on Saturday, June 20. The Reserve is dedicated to the conservation of natural biodiversity and cultural resources through research and monitoring to guide science-based stewardship and education strategies. The two-mile hike will be led by a staff naturalist. Florida Native Plant Society field trip details.  


Green Social at Aardwolf Brewery 

Sponsor: US Green Building Council North Florida Chapter

When: Tuesday, June 23, at 6 p.m.

Where: Aardwolf Brewing Company 

Cost: Free and open to the public. This is an all ages event. 


Green Socials are a great way to network with a diverse group of professionals and learn about the sustainability movement in Jacksonville — plus you can enjoy some local brews and food from a local food truck. This month, the presentations will feature three startups who have been working in the community and have some exciting updates. The presentations will include speakers from Friends of Hemming Park, Groundwork Jacksonville and Berry Good Farms. Green Social event information


Full Moon Kayak & Camp 


Sponsor: St. Johns Riverkeeper Rising Tides

When: Friday, July 31, at 7 p.m.

Where: Dutton Island Preserve

Cost: Free to kayak, $5 to camp


Join Rising Tides members for this fun evening on the water followed by optional camping. Kayaking under the bright light of the full moon as it reflects on the water is a unique and exciting experience. Rising Tides is a group for community-minded young professionals who want to help support the St. Johns River and St. Johns Riverkeeper through membership and participation in a range of social activities. 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. Full moon kayak and camp event information. 

Learn more about upcoming events.
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