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Sawmill Slough in Spring

August 2015

Student Spotlight

Natalie Sassine, juniorNatalie Sassine, junior


Where are you from? Islamorada, Fla.


Why did you come to UNF, and what is your favorite part about campus? It is an in-state university on the coast but is still very far from my hometown. My favorite place on campus is the bamboo garden. 


What is your major? Fine arts, with a concentration in painting, drawing and printmaking. I am also enrolled in the community leadership minor. 


What is your job title and what do you do at the Environmental Center? I am the communications assistant and help put together the newsletters, including this very one. I also manage the Environmental Center's social media sites and help plan events. 


How did you get involved with the Environmental Center? I started volunteering and attending events my freshman year, as I was seeking out ways to get involved in things I am passionate about on campus, such as sustainability and activism. 


What is your favorite outdoor activity? Kayaking, scuba diving, napping in hammocks (specifically hung from palm trees on a beach), camping and painting or drawing landscapes. 


What is your favorite animal and why? I really like humans, but dolphins are pretty awesome animals, too. They spend their time in the ocean hanging out with their family. 


If you could go anywhere and do anything tomorrow, what would you do? I would travel to Dakar, Sengal, to live with some of my family there and work on a neighboring organic farm. 


Are you involved with any hobbies, clubs or volunteer activities? I find hobbies in everything art-related and am involved in climate justice activism. I am a peer buddy with UNF Best Buddies club and involved with the student organization Divest UNF. Nationally, I work with the awesome young folks of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network. I am also a recent graduate of Leadership Jacksonville's Collegiate Leadership Experience. 


What are your plans after graduation? I will probably continue my work with student activist organizations by working on the art and design side of campaigns and doing some cultural organizing, particularly to tell a story of climate and environmental injustice in the Southeast through visual art, poetry and song. I could see myself continuing education to get a master's degree in art therapy. Either way, I will keep my mind open, dreams big and pockets — more than likely — empty.

Learn more about Environmental Center student employees

Summer Field School with the Florida Springs Institute

Florida Springs Institute logoThe Howard T. Odum 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 Florida State University but is open to all Florida college students. The field school will take place at Wakulla Springs Lodge near Tallahassee from Aug. 13 to 20 and combines lectures and field trips. Meals will be provided for students during the field school. This is a unique and amazing opportunity to learn about Florida springs firsthand from experts and get involved with important on-going research.

Learn more about the summer field school

UNF Goes Smoke Free

Breathe Fresh graphicIn 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

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

Cost: $25-50


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.

Green Carpet Film Series

Sponsors: US Green Building Council (USGBC) North Florida Chapter and Environmental Center

When: Wednesday, Aug. 19, from 6-8:45 p.m.

Where: Sun-Ray Cinema

Cost: $7-10


Come out to Sun-Ray Cinema for a screening of "Sand Wars." Follow the search around the globe that unveils a different type of gold rush in this investigative documentary. Is sand an infinite resource? What are the consequences of intensive beach sand mining for the environment and the neighboring populations. Answer these questions through encounters with sand smugglers, barefoot millionaires, corrupt politicians, unscrupulous real estate developers and environmentalists. Stick around after the film for a panel discussion with Dr. Don Resio of the UNF Taylor Engineering Research Institute.

Green Carpet Film Series event details

Community Volunteer Opportunities

Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation Summer Projects

SponsorTimucuan Trail Parks Foundation 

When: Friday, Aug. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon
WhereHanna Park 


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


McCoys Creek Cleanup

SponsorsSt. Johns Riverkeeper and Rising Tides

When: Sunday, Aug. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon

Where: TBD


Spend your morning cleaning up our water with the folks from Rising Tides and the St. Johns Riverkeeper. Rising Tides is a group of community-minded young professionals who support the St. Johns River and St. Johns Riverkeeper through membership and particpation in a range of social activities. Please bring bug spray, wear closed-toe shoes and waterproof boots, if you are able. Bags and gloves will be provided. No registration is required, but check the St. Johns Riverkeeper website for details.


Florida Springs Baseline Study

SponsorHoward T. Odum Florida Springs Institute


During the next couple of months, the Florida Springs Institute will be conducting baseline studies at a number of Florida springs, and they are looking for passionate volunteers to help. 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.


Rainbow River — Monday, Aug. 31, through Friday, Sept. 11

Wakulla River — Monday, Oct. 12, through Friday, Oct. 23

Find more volunteer opportunities

Community Events

USGBC Green Social

Sponsors: U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) North Florida Chapter, Aardwolf Brewing Company and Bioril

When: Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 6 p.m.

WhereAardwolf Brewery

Cost: Free. This event is all ages. 


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 Julie Watkins, founder of Girls Gone Green, and Cory Rayburn from the City of Atlanta's Environmental Restoration Division. Green Social event details 


Kayak Pottsburg Creek

Sponsor: Sierra Club Northeast Florida Group

When: Saturday, Aug. 15, at 11 a.m.
Where8550 Beach Blvd.

Cost: Free


Join members from the local Sierra Club group for a fun paddle along Pottsburg Creek, which is extremely close to the UNF campus. Despite being in an urban center, paddlers can expect to see a number of birds, including our friend the osprey, as well as other wildlife along the Pottsburg Creek. Participants must bring their own kayak or canoe and must have a personal floatation device and whistle. If you do not own a kayak or canoe you may rent one from All-Wet Sports, but please arrive at 10 a.m. to ensure you are ready to launch at 11 a.m. UNF students can rent kayaks, canoes and other equipment for off-campus use from Eco-Adventures. Event details


Save the Ferry Bike Ride

Sponsors: St. Johns Riverkeeper, Rising TidesFriends 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 fourth annual Save the Ferry Bike Ride. Riders will meet at Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville Beach and ride 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) and ferry fare. Riders 21 and up will receive 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.  


River Ruckus

Sponsors: St. Johns Riverkeeper and Riverside Arts Market

When: Saturday, Aug. 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WhereRiverside Arts Market

Cost: Free


Let's raise a ruckus for the St. Johns River at the third annual River Ruckus! This family festival that shows Jacksonville that our river is more than a scenic view, it is a recreational asset for the city that should be respected, protected and enjoyed. Riverfront activities are scheduled throughout and include stand-up paddle board (SUP) lessons, fishing clinics and free boat trips. Enjoy live music from Mike Bernos with Spice and the Po Boys and craft beer from SweetWater Brewing Company. Find more details and a complete event schedule on the St. Johns Riverkeeper website.

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