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Sawmill Slough in Spring

January 2016

Environmental Center 2015 Annual Report

The Environmental Center was founded in 2004 and celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. Over the past 10 years, the Center has been able to create and institutionalize a number of research and educational programs including Seed Grants, State of the St. Johns River Report, St. Johns River Transformational Learning Opportunity and Garbage on the Green. To support these and other activities, the Environmental Center has been successful in attracting external funding through both the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the UNF Foundation. 


To help celebrate the accomplishments of the past year, we have created an annual report. We would also like to take this time to thank all of the faculty, staff, students and community members who have helped support the Environmental Center over the past ten years. Our success would not be possible without them. 

View the Environmental Center 2015 Annual Report

Student Spotlight: Danielle Tipley

Danielle Tipley, Project LeaderWhere are you from? I am originally from Fort Pierce, Florida.


Do you have a favorite spot on campus? If so, where is it and what do you like about it? My favorite spot on campus is the bamboo garden because there is always a lot of shade and it is a great quite place to sit when you are feeling stressed.


What is your major and why did you choose that major? I graduated with a bachelors degree in biology, with a concentration in molecular and cellular biology and biotechnology. I chose this major because I felt that it would focus on research I would be interested in pursuing in the future, as well as lab techniques I could apply to a career as a research scientist.


What are your plans after graduation?  I plan on applying to a few Ph.D. programs focusing on microbiology and immunology. 


What is your dream job? My dream job would be one that would allow me to travel the world conducting research with different microbial biomes.


How did you get involved with the Environmental Center? I got involved with the Environmental Center through Garbage on the Green and the St. Johns River Transformational Learning Opportunity.


What is your job title and what do you do at the Environmental Center? I am a research assistant at the Environmental Center and I am currently helping to create an algal inventory of the Sawmill Slough Preserve on campus.


What is your favorite Environmental Center activity? My favorite Environmental Center activity is Garbage on the Green, mostly because I feel that it raises awareness about on-campus sustainability and allows for a lot of students to get involved in multiple ways.


What is your favorite outdoor activity? My favorite outdoor activity is canoeing or kayaking, especially at Blue Springs State Park and Juniper Springs.


Who is your hero and why? I would like to acknowledge my parents as my "hero," simply because without them I would not have had the support and encouragement to finish my education and achieve success in all areas of my life, including school. 


What are your hobbies? What clubs and volunteer activities are you involved in? When I am not working at Publix, I like taking the group fitness classes at UNF, such as yoga or Zumba. I also enjoy going to the beach with friends. While at UNF, I was in area council at the Fountains as I lived on campus, as well as the Wildlife Conservation Club. Almost all of the volunteering activities I participated in were hosted by the Environmental Center (Garbage on the Green, beach cleanups, etc.).


What is the environmental issue you are most interested in? The environmental issue that I am most interested in is our use of fresh water resources, and the impact it is having on the St. Johns River and the Floridan Aquifer.


What makes you passionate about the environment? I am passionate about the environment because I believe that it has an impact on everyone's life and I think we're all responsible for its well-being.

Learn more about other student project leaders

The Environmental Center Welcomes Maria Mark

Maria Mark, CoordinatorThe Environmental Center welcomes Maria Mark as the new program coordinator for the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP). She previously served as the executive director of the Timucuan Parks Foundation for almost nine years. Prior to her non-profit career, she was a litigation paralegal for 20 years.


Maria brings an array of professional and personal experience. Most recently, she served as a city commissioner of Atlantic  Beach (2011-2015). She is a 2014 Leadership Jacksonville graduate, 2015 Regional Leadership Academy graduate and a recent member of the Jacksonville Women's Network. Maria also earned her Florida IFAS Master Naturalist Certification in 2008. 


In her new position at the Environmental Center, Maria is refining the ELP which is completing its pilot year and will be officially launched in 2016. The ELP is the Center's newest program and is designed to identify and develop the next generation of student leaders who have a passion for the environment and want to take the lead in making better decisions when it comes to environmental impacts. Maria stated, "When I learned about plans to develop the ELP, I knew I wanted to be a part of this important and much-needed program. To work with students who are passionate about the environment and want to make a positive difference in their community is just an incredible opportunity!"


Maria is just as passionate for the environment and has been a community activist for many years. She has been instrumental in challenging land use and zoning decisions in Atlantic Beach and for the National Park Service.


Born in South Korea and adopted at 18 months old, Maria considers herself an all-American gal. Raised in Columbia, S.C. and a University of South Carolina graduate, she now calls Atlantic Beach home where she's been a long-time resident with her husband of 25 years, Bob, and their 16-year old son, Garrett. In her spare time, Maria enjoys golfing, nature photography and birding.

Volunteers Needed for Citizen Science Projects

We are pleased to announce our new citizen science volunteer program! This program will allow students of all majors to help collect data in the Sawmill Slough Preserve. Our projects included bird monitoring, plant monitoring and mammal monitoring. Interested volunteers are welcome to join our citizen science project leader on Thursdays from noon to 2:30 p.m. for data collection. For more information, please e-mail Kim Daly-Crews or stop by the Environmental Center office in Building 1, J.J. Daniel Hall, Room 2200.

Learn more about other volunteer opportunities

Environmental Center Student Coalition Meeting

When: Thursday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m.

Where: UNF Student Union, Room 3806


The Environmental Center Student Coalition is a new club that will enable students to volunteer, participate and plan environmental focused events. The club is open to students from all majors and backgrounds. Participation in the club provides like-minded students with the opportunity to contribute to campus sustainability and learn more about the natural environment.

The inaugural meeting of the Environmental Center Student Coalition will feature information on upcoming events, including a nature hike and a yoga cleanup. There will also be discussion of future activities, so come with your ideas! Free food will be provided by Einstein Bros Bagels.

Learn about more upcoming events

Talbot Island State Park Hike

Sponsors: Environmental Center Student Coalition

When: Saturday, Jan. 30, from 10 a.m. to noon

Where: Big Talbot Island

Cost: Free and open to all Ospreys 


Join the Environmental Center Student Coalition for its first outing — a hike on the beautiful trails of Big Talbot Island State Park. While enjoying the trail and beach, we will also pick up litter along the way. If you have not experienced the natural beauty of the driftwood beach, this is an excellent opportunity to see it with your fellow Ospreys. 


The hike will start at 10 a.m, for those of you who chose to meet us there. If you are interested in carpooling, we will meet on campus in Lot 7 at 9 a.m. Those carpooling will also get a chance to ride the ferry across St. Johns River. If you are interested in carpooling, e-mail Daniel Norez.

Learn about more upcoming events

Swoopin' Up the Butts: Monthly Cigarette Butt Cleanups

Sponsors: Environmental Center, Department of Health Promotions and Volunteer Services

When: Friday, Jan. 29, at noon

Where: Peace Plaza

Did you cigarette butts account for a significant amount of pollution? Not only are they a 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. Cigarette butts are made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, and never decompose, persisting in the environment for years. 

As part of the Smoke-Free Campus Initiative, which began August 1, 2015, the University has removed all ash receptacles from campus. In an effort to help ensure our campus remains beautiful and litter-free, the Environmental Center has teamed up with Health Promotions and Volunteer Services to organize monthly cigarette butt cleanups. Last semester Swoopin' Up the Butts volunteers collected an estimated 11,433 cigarette butts. Join us for a kick-butt cleanup! #UNFKicksButts


No preregistration required. Students, faculty and staff are all encouraged to participate. All supplies will be provided for volunteers.

Learn more about other volunteer opportunities

Community Corner

McCoys Creek Cleanup

When: Sunday, Jan. 17, from 10 a.m. to noon

Where:2839 West Beaver Street, Jacksonville, FL 32209

Cost: Free and open to all


Help the local group of young professionals, Rising Tides, clean up the community by picking up litter in and around McCoys Creek. More information is provided on their website. 

Timucuan Science and History Symposium

Sponsor: Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation 

When: Friday, Jan. 22, at 9 a.m.

Where: Ribault Club, Fort George Island
Cost: $10 for students; $25 early registration; $35 after January 2


Connect with and create the next generation of park scientists, historians, and researchers. For registration and details, visit the event website. 


Coal Ash Stories Film Screenings

When: Monday, Feb. 1, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Sun-Ray Cinema
Cost: Free, but registration is required


Featuring four short films on coal ash, public health concerns, related policy and ways that communities are responding. Register on the Coal Ash Stories event page and join the Facebook event.

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