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Sawmill Slough in Spring

November 2015

Campus Sustainability Month and Garbage on the Green Recap

This past October, the Environmental Center and the Sustainability Committee celebrated Campus Sustainability Month. The month presents an opportunity for the UNF community to celebrate its continued commitment to sustainability and responsibility to the natural environment. The UNF campus is home to the Sawmill Slough Preserve, 12 LEED-certified buildings and a beautiful campus landscape. For its efforts as a sustainability leader, Princeton Review, Sierra Club and others have recognized the University as a green campus.  


Campus Sustainability Month featured a number of great events and started with an Eat for the Planet workshop hosted by our friends at the Ogier Gardens. The next event was a campus sustainability forum focused on fossil fuel divestment. This is a hot topic among universities and foundations, with many deciding to remove their investments from fossil fuel companies. Speakers at the forum included Helen Rake, a certified financial planner and founder of Synergy Assets Strategy, Inc., and UNF student and Divest UNF president Natalie Sassine. Following those on-campus events was a tour of Jacksonville's largest recycling facility. A great group of students, faculty and staff toured the LEED-certified facility and were able to see firsthand where recyclables go. In addition, there was lively discussion about recycling in Northeast Florida.  


GoG 2015 CollageThe anchor event for Campus Sustainability Month was Garbage on the Green, an annual waste audit organized by Environmental Center and conducted by student volunteers. The event included an early morning campus cleanup, and volunteers collected 9.4 kg of litter and more than 3,500 cigarette butts from our beautiful campus! In total, 118 volunteers spent 144.5 hours at Garbage on the Green removing litter from campus and auditing waste from five different locations. For the first time, the Environmental Center partnered with UNF Volunteer Services to host the annual fall volunteer fair at the same time as Garbage on the Green. This partnership allowed students to volunteer on-campus, while at the same time learning about off-campus volunteer opportunities. Check out the Environmental Center's Facebook page for photos of the event, or go to YouTube for a video 


The last event of Campus Sustainability Month was Alternative Transportation Day, which featured an electric vehicle showcase, bike maintenance workshop and a swoop the loop bike ride! Alternative Transportation Day was a great way to end the month and educate students, faculty and staff about ways they can reduce their environmental impact through daily commuting.  


We would again like to thank all our great partners and sponsors who helped make Campus Sustainability Month and Garbage on the Green possible.Thank you to the UNF Bookstore, the Department of Health Promotion, Pepsi, Volunteer Services, UNF Physical Facilities, UNF Student Union and Berry Good Farms on the Go. We will see you next October for another great Campus Sustainability Month!

Learn more about Campus Sustainability Month

Justin Lemmons, Ecologist Extraordinaire

Photos of Justin Lemmons in the fieldWe would like to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work of Justin Lemmons, who spent the past two years serving as the Environmental Center’s ecologist. Justin added a depth of knowledge and a dash of excitement to the office, providing students with real-world experiences conducting ecological research on-campus in the Sawmill Slough Preserve. Funding for Justin and his research recently expired, and we would like to take a moment to acknowledge his contributions to the Environmental Center and the University.

Justin was hired in 2013 to serve as the Environmental Center’s staff ecologist. His primary duties included helping develop a digital inventory of the flora and fauna found in the Sawmill Slough Preserve, a 382-acre protected natural area located on the UNF campus. This was a continuation of a project started by Preserve Curator Chuck Hubbuch in 2006. The findings of the inventory will be maintained in the Preserve Digital Archive, which was developed by Dr. Stuart Chalk, associate professor of chemistry.

In addition to the Preserve Digital Archive, Justin assisted the Preserve curator with management and restoration of the Sawmill Slough Preserve. He often spent his days in the Preserve helping with prescribed burns, habitat restoration, pest plant control and water quality analysis. These valuable services will help restore the Sawmill Slough Preserve, which is home to a multitude of native plants and animals. To help support his research, Justin received external grants from Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and the Florida Native Plant Society. Furthermore, Justin completed a number of presentations about the Preserve and his research at professional conferences.

During the past two years Justin provided invaluable service to the Environmental Center, Sawmill Slough Preserve and the University as a whole. While much of his work will live on through the Preserve Digital Archive, Justin’s passion and enthusiasm will be greatly missed in the office. We wish him success as he moves on to the next chapter in his professional career.


Photos of plants from the Preserve

Learn more about Projects in the Sawmill Slough Preserve

Student Spotlight: Daniel Norez

Volunteer Coordinator Daniel NorezWhere are you from?  I was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico. I graduated from high school in Texas and left for the Navy soon after.


What is your major? My major is health science with a concentration in community health. 


Why did you decide to attend UNF and what is your favorite part of campus? It was the Navy that brought me to Jacksonville, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to stay after my contract was over, which led me to attend UNF. My favorite part of campus is the north side of the Sawmill Slough Preserve. It is a great escape, and it was chance to see a part of UNF that very few people enjoy. 


How did you get involved with the Environmental Center?  I got involved after hearing about it from a couple professors. They noticed I was leaning towards environmental issues so they recommended I got involved.


What is your job title and what do you do at the Environmental Center? I am a volunteer coordinator.

What is your favorite Environmental Center activity? I really enjoyed our staff retreat! I never thought I would get to see wild horses. I also enjoyed Garbage on the Green. Seeing so many Ospreys come out and help was amazing.


What is your favorite outdoor activity? My favorite outdoor activity is camping! I love traveling to different parks and learning the history and doing all of the various activities such as kayaking, fishing, hiking and so on.


What is your favorite type of animal and why? My favorite animal is the mighty canine. I have many favorite animals, but I get to interact with my dog every single day. The companionship she provides is priceless.


If you could go anywhere and do anything tomorrow, what would you do ? As simple as it may sound, I would go and ride the rapids of the Colorado River. It is a fun, exciting and different way to see the Grand Canyon, but there is more than a year waiting list. That or going on Food Network's Chopped! I enjoy food and cooking and competition, so being on that show would be super fun.


Are you involved with any hobbies, clubs or volunteer activities? As far as UNF goes, I am only involved with the Environmental Center. Outside of school, I participate in the city flag football leagues.


What are your plans after graduation? In the long term, after graduation, I hope to dedicate a lot of time throughout Latin America helping develop public health programs and sustainability education (plus the food should be good).

Learn more about Environmental Center student coordinators

Textbook Collection

At the end of every semester, the Environmental Center collects unwanted textbooks from students and faculty. Do not let your used books go to waste! All collected books will be sent to Better World Books, a company focused on sustainability and literacy initiatives worldwide. Collection bins will be located outside of the UNF Bookstore and the Thomas G. Carpenter Library from Friday, Nov. 20, to Friday, Dec. 11. As always, you can drop off your books any time of the year in the Environmental Center's office located in Building 1, J.J. Daniels Hall, room 2200. Faculty may request a pickup of textbooks from their office.


For more information or to schedule a pickup, please email Kevin O'Halloran

Volunteer Opportunities

Floridians for Solar Choice Needs Volunteers

Sponsor: Sierra Club Northeast Florida Group


Sierra Club Florida is invested in removing barriers to solar power by supporting Floridians for Solar Choice. This group is working to place a solar ballot initiative on the 2016 ballot. Florida is one of only four states that prohibits citizens from buying electricity from anyone other than a utility. This prohibition limits customer choice and blocks the growth of abundant, clean, homegrown energy sources like rooftop solar. Floridians for Solar Choice is working on a tight deadline to collect the required 683,149 petition signatures to place this crucial amendment on the 2016 ballot, and we need your help! 


If you are interested in helping collect signatures at events, festivals and other strategic locations where Floridians frequent, please contact the Jacksonville-area coordinator Cecilia Zucconi


Mornings in the Park Volunteer Projects

Sponsors: Timucuan Parks Foundation and JaxParks


Volunteers are needed for two upcoming events. Volunteers will be helping with trail maintenance, cleaning up litter and other tasks. Volunteers are asked to bring loopers, pruners, work gloves and water. 

Thursday, Nov. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon at Losco Regional Park - Sign up!

Friday, Dec. 4, from 9 a.m. to noon at Dutton Island Preserve - Sign up!

More volunteer opportunities

Community Events

Right Whale Festival

SponsorsSea to Shore AllianceNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and many more local sponsors.
When: Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Jacksonville Beach Sea Walk Pavilion
Cost: Free and open to the public

The Right Whale Festival celebrates the annual return of the endangered North Atlantic right whales and the beginning of the right whale calving season off the coast of Northeast Florida and Georgia. It is a fun and free outdoor event for all ages. It's also an opportunity to expand awareness about the threats to right whales such as accidental ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. Less than 500 right whales exist today, and their home waters span the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and parts of Canada.

Find the Right Whale Festival Facebook event page or visit their website for more details.

REI Closes on Black Friday to #OptOutside

REI believes that being outside makes our lives better. That is why this Black Friday, Nov. 27, they are closing all 143 stores and paying their employees to head outside. They are encouraging everyone to do the same. As an alternative to shopping and buying, REI wants you and your family to spend that time exploring and enjoying the great outdoors. Share your holiday adventures with the world by tagging #OptOutside to your photos. Wherever you'll be on Black Friday, REI can help you find a place to #OptOutside on their website

2016 Timucuan Science and History Symposium

SponsorsTimucuan Ecological and Historic PreserveTimucuan Parks Foundation and Florida State Parks 

When: Friday, Jan. 22

WhereRibault Club, Fort George Island, Florida

Cost: $10-35

The Timucuan Science and History Symposium is an annual showcase of research related to the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Presentations have an emphasis on the natural sciences, human ecology and the history and culture of Northeast Florida. Morning refreshments and lunch will be provided. Visit the symposium website for registration and more information. 

More upcoming events
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