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Sawmill Slough in Spring

October 2015

Applications Now Open for the 2016 St. Johns River Experience

Applications are now open for the 2016 St. Johns River Experience. Formally called the St. Johns River Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO), the St. Johns River Experience is a unique opportunity open to all undergraduate students in good academic standing. The interdisciplinary course utilizes the St. Johns River, one of only fourteen American Heritage Rivers in the U.S., to build connections between biology, history, chemistry, art, political science and many other disciplines. This is a great opportunity for students to explore the many potential careers and research opportunities within the environmental field, which are not just limited to the physical sciences. 

Students from the 2015 St. Johns River Experience

All students who participate in the St. Johns River Experience are required to enroll in a one-credit upper level course that meets Wednesdays from 1-3:50 p.m. throughout the semester. This course generally satisfies a general elective or lab credit for most majors or we can also develop more major-specific projects for a directed independent study (DIS). During the course students will hear from a number of expert guest speakers, each one representing a different aspect of the River. In addition, students will attend field trips to develop a deeper understanding of each topic being presented. 


The highlight of the St. Johns River Experience is the spring break adventure. The weeklong trip focuses on exploring the diverse ecosystems within the St. Johns River watershed, giving many students their first experience with the River. During the trip students will enjoy the River and wildlife via boat tours, swim in majestic springs, explore the River's tributaries by canoe and hike the upland habitats surrounding the River. 


This opportunity is open to all undergraduate students in good academic standing. Applicants do not need prior outdoor experience, nor do they need specialized outdoor equipment. However, applicants must understand the majority of the trip will be spent outdoors where conditions are unpredictable. The cost to participate is $350 and there is a $100 non-refundable deposit. The cost covers all expenses, including transportation, accommodations, meals, park entrance fees and equipment rentals. 


There are a limited number of spots available to participate in the St. Johns River Experience, so the application process is competitive. Applications are now available on the Environmental Center website. The deadline for applications is Friday, Nov. 6. Each applicant will be required to participate in an interview. All decisions will be made by Wednesday, Nov. 20.

More information on the St. Johns River Experience

Student Spotlight: Amy Brownfield
Amy Brownfield, Project LeaderWhere are you from? Lehigh Acres, Fla., which is just outside of Fort Myers.


What is your major? I am dual majoring in coastal biology and biochemistry. 


Why did you decide to attend UNF and what is your favorite part of campus? I received my AA from Florida State College at Jacksonville and wanted to stay local for completion of my bachelor degrees. I toured several other universities but chose to transfer into UNF for many reasons. I was interested in the coastal biology program and fell in love with the new biology building with all of its sustainability achievements. I also really enjoy the small classes, beautiful natural environment and the secluded feeling of the campus. My favorite part of campus is the Sawmill Slough Preserve. Weather permitting, I begin each day with a walk through the Preserve. 


What is your job title and what do you do at the Environmental Center? I am a Project Leader and am currently planning the 2016 St. Johns River Experience. Additionally, I am assisting Dr. Rick Troendle from the Department of Chemistry with analyzing water samples from the St. Johns River for levels of atrazine, a common herbicide used in agriculture and lawn maintenance. 


How did you get involved with the Environmental Center? I saw an Osprey Update about the St. Johns River Experience, a full immersion, multidisciplinary river adventure offered by the Environmental Center. I applied to participate in the 2015 St. Johns River Experience and was accepted.


What is your favorite Environmental Center activity? I have really enjoyed everything I have been involved with at the Environmental Center, but my favorite activity to date was the St. Johns River Experience. It is really difficult to surpass an entire week of river- and springs-related education and fun! If I had to choose a single activity from that week, it would be canoeing the Juniper Spring run.


What is your favorite outdoor activity? I love most outdoor activities, but kayaking is my absolute favorite!


What is your favorite type of animal and why? I love them all - except palmetto bugs. (Those things give me the creeps!)


If you could go anywhere and do anything tomorrow, what would you do? Travel to Costa Rica. I would love to spend weeks exploring the diverse habitats located there.


Are you involved with any hobbies, clubs or volunteer activities? My hobbies are outdoor activities. I kayak, boat, fish, swim, hike, geocache, garden, etc. I am treasurer of the UNF chapter of the American Chemical Society and a member of the UNF Bass Fishing Club. My volunteer efforts are focused on the environment and include Environmental Center volunteer events as well as events within the Jacksonville community, such as a recent citizen science day spent catching dragonflies and their larvae for a mercury study.


What are your plans after graduation? I will be applying to graduate school after completing my undergraduate degrees. 

Learn more about Environmental Center student project leaders

26-in-26: UNF Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign

The 26-in-26 Campaign for the University of North Florida is an annual fundraising initiative that gives employees of UNF an opportunity to make a gift to an area on campus that is close to your heart. By making a gift through payroll deduction, donors have the ability to give 26 gifts throughout the year, which quickly add up to an even larger gift.


The 2014-2015 Campaign celebrated 485 members of the University community contributing, raising more than $110,000.


If you are interested in making a contribution to the Environmental Center through payroll deductions, visit the annual giving website and fill out the payroll deduction form (accessible only from your UNF network computer). You may also print out the paper form and send it via campus mail to Kate McClung, Alumni Hall, Room 1108. Be sure to indicate your gift is for the Environmental Center fund 0209-5608-00.

More information on faculty and staff giving

Seed Grant Applications Now Open

Applications for the 2015-16 Environmental Center Seed Grants are now open! Two awards up to $6,000 each will be awarded to faculty or teams of faculty that include at least one tenure track faculty member. Seed Grants are intended to stimulate the creation of multidisciplinary research projects related to the environment. Funds may be used for faculty stipends, wages for students and travel and expenses directly related to the proposed project. 


Faculty that are awarded Seed Grants will be acknowledged as an Environmental Center Fellow for the term of two years. As a Seed Grant recipient, faculty will be expected to give a presentation on the progress of their research at an Environmental Center Faculty Social in the spring 2016 semester.  


Applications for Environmental Center Seed Grants are available on the Environmental Center's website. The deadline for applications is noon, Monday, Nov. 3. Please contact James Taylor if you have any questions.  

More information on Environmental Center Seed Grants

Campus Sustainability Month

Every October is Campus Sustainability Month at UNF. Organized by the Environmental Center, with support from the Sustainability Committee, Physical Facilities, Health Promotions and Volunteer services, Campus Sustainability Month helps educate students, faculty and staff about the importance of sustainability on campus and in the community. The anchor event is Garbage on the Green, an annual campus waste audit executed by over 100 volunteers, which has become a campus tradition.

Please visit the Campus Sustainability Month website for more details.


Thursday, Oct. 22 - Garbage on the Green and Volunteer Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 26 - Alternative Transportation Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Campus Sustainability Month event details

Swoopin' Up the Butts: Weekly Cigarette Butt Cleanups
Sponsors: Environmental Center, Healthy Osprey and Volunteer Services

When: Fridays at noon

WhereDates and locations for each cleanup are below


Since the beginning of the semester Environmental Center volunteers have been helping clean up cigarette butt litter from campus. As part of the Smoke-Free Campus Initiative, which began Saturday, Aug. 1, the University removed all ash receptacles from campus. These cleanups are an important way to ensure our campus remains beautiful and litter-free during this important transition. Furthermore, the cleanups provide UNF with information about problem areas on campus. 


Environmental Center Volunteer Gina Olson

At our most recent cleanup at Osprey Cafe on Friday, Oct. 9, 12 volunteers collected over 1,400 cigarette butts! Combined over the past six weeks, volunteers have collected a total of 6,220 cigarette butts from campus.


Among the volunteers that day was English major Gina Olson. After talking to our volunteer coordinators about Swoopin' Up the Butts at Market Days, she has become an active volunteer and attended multiple cleanups. Gina said she really dislikes the sight of cigarette butt litter and wants to remind smokers to be mindful and respectful to the environment. Cigarette butts are not only the most common type of litter found on roadways and beaches, but they also contain many harsh toxins that can leach into the environment and be harmful to wildlife.


All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get outside and participate in Swoopin' Up the Butts. For our new Ospreys, this is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about the campus. No registrations is required. All supplies for the cleanup will be provided for volunteers. Prizes will be given to the volunteer who collects the most butts!   


Swoopin Up the Butts event banner

Learn more about volunteer opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers Needed at Garbage on the Green 

Sponsors: Environmental Center, Healthy Osprey, UNF Bookstore, Pepsi, Physical Facilities and Volunteer Services 

When: Thursday, Oct. 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Where: Osprey Plaza


Join over 100 volunteers at Garbage on the Green annual waste audit and campus cleanup. Also, be sure to check out the Volunteer Fair happening at the same time featuring dozens of community organizations. Volunteers are needed to help set up the event, pick up litter on campus and complete the waste audit. Volunteering starts as early as 8 a.m. All volunteers receive free lunch from the Berry Good Farms on the Go and a free Garbage on the Green commemorative shirt. For more information, visit the Garbage on the Green website, or fill out the volunteer registration form.

More volunteer opportunities

Community Events

Marsh Fest

Sponsors: Timucuan Parks Foundation and many more

When: Saturday, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Dutton Island Preserve

Cost: Free


The 2015 Marsh Fest includes kayak and canoe tours of the marsh, live Americana music, guided nature hikes, fishing 101, environmental exhibitors, a new "Woodrum the Woodstork" play, a raffle and a fish fry with all the fixings! All donations and proceeds will fund amenities for the Atlantic Beach Marsh Parks. Come out and support your parks! Event details

More upcoming events
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