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Sawmill Slough in Spring

February 2016

Faculty Spotlight: Erin Largo-Wight, Ph.D.

This section of the newsletter highlights a faculty member who significantly contributes to the Environmental Center. 


Dr. Erin Largo-Wight, facultyDepartment: Public Health


Title: Associate professor and program director


Where did you attend graduate school and what did you study? 

University of Delaware, Master of Science in health promotion


University of Florida, Ph.D. in health behavior with a minor in psychology; graduate certifications in health communication and environmental education 

When did you start working at UNF? 2007


What is your favorite thing about working at UNF? The people — students, faculty, staff, and community partners — are the heart and soul of what makes UNF so special. I am also proud to work at an institution dedicated to environmental conservation and I am thankful for the natural beauty on our campus.


How are you involved with the Environmental Center? I have been proudly serving on the Executive Board since 2008. I worked with my colleagues in the Center to build initiatives to educate, foster environmental sustainability and facilitate environmental-related research at UNF.

What does your research focus on? My environmental health promotion research has two arms — environmental health behaviors and health places and communities. The focus of my work has been on healthy places and specifically focused on exploring the impact of nature contact at work (e.g., outdoor work breaks) and schools (e.g., impact of outdoor classrooms.)


Have you been a recipient of a Seed Grant? If so, what was the project? Yes. One study explored the impact of an outdoor booster break compared to an indoor work break. In addition, we explored the impact of learning literacy in an outdoor classroom versus an indoor classroom on child well-being, on task behavior and attention among kindergartners in public school.


What is your favorite class to teach? Top three working with three different student populations:

  1. HSC2100 Personal and Community Health is a fun general education course that allows students to explore health from a personal, hands-on approach. Environmental healthy behaviors focused on the importance of and how to reduce, reuse and recycle are a highlight.
  2. HSC3032 Foundations of Public Health is a motivational survey course for the public health majors that engages students with the community through five field trips, including one campus trip to explore the Environmental Center, Ogier Gardens and Eco Adventure.
  3. HSC6603 is a graduate course that introduces behavioral theories, socioecological perspectives and health education/promotion approaches to promoting public health. Every student partners with a community partner to network, observe and complete a class project.        
Where is your favorite place to enjoy nature? Florida. All of it. Any season. I feel especially close to the Gulf of Mexico's coast from the "nature coast" down to the Keys and spring-fed rivers sprinkled through the center of the state.


What are your favorite outdoor activities? Sunshine activities. Moderate kayaking, hiking, biking, watching my kiddos surf, etc.


What would you like to do when you retire? Spend a little more time outside.

Textbook Collection Results

Textbook Results Fall 2016The fall textbook collection was a big success!  We collected 185.3 kg (408.5 lbs) of unwanted textbooks, which will be recycled and help fund literacy programs through Better World Books. Thank you to everyone who donated textbooks! 


Remember, we accept books at all times. If you have any books you would like to donate, please drop them off in the Environmental Center office Building 1, J.J. Daniel Hall, Room 2200. Faculty and staff can arrange office pickups by contacting Kevin O'Halloran

Bin Wars at Homecoming

Photo of 2015 Bin Wars competitionUNF Homecoming is right around the corner and that means another Bin Wars competition! This year marks the second annual partnership with Osprey Productions to bring an awesome recycling bin design competition to the homecoming festivities. 


Each student team will receive a recycling bin, provided by the Environmental Center and Pepsi, to creatively design and paint. The bins will be displayed and judged during the Night of Fun Friday, Feb. 19 at Osprey Plaza and Amphitheater. The winning design will also take home an exclusive prize from the Environmental Center. After that date, the bins will be used to collect recyclables at special events on campus.

Contact Kevin O'Halloran for more information.

2016 Seed Grant Recipients

The Environmental Center is excited to announce the recipients of the 2016 Seed Grants. As a recipient, faculty are awarded grants up to $6,000 for research projects related to the environment. Additionally, recipients are recognized as Environmental Center fellows for a term of two years. Seed Grants are available to faculty from any college and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. 


Metallic Nanorods as Effective Environmentally Benign Biofilm Inhibitors

Dr. Stephen Stagon, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Amy Lane, Department of Chemistry


The U.S. Navy estimates that biofouling increases drag on the hulls of its ships by up to 40%, resulting in an annual cost of over $1 billion. Biofouling occurs through a multi-step process, beginning with the attachment of microorganisms and the formation of a biofilm which larger fouling organisms preferentially attach to. Biofilm formation may be mitigated using two approaches: chemical or mechanical. Read full abstract.


Willingness to Pay for Safe Drinking Water: A Contingent Valuation Study in the City of Jacksonville, Florida

Dr. Christopher K. Johnson, Department of Economics and Geography

Dr. Chiradip Chatterjee, Department of Economics and Geography

Dr. Parvez Ahmed, Department of Accounting and Finance

Dr. Russell Triplett, Department of Economics and Geography


The objective of this study is to examine how measures of socioeconomic background, social capital and media exposure influence the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for water quality improvement. The purpose of this study is threefold: First, we will estimate residents' monetary valuation for the improvement of tap water quality. Read full abstract.

Learn more about Seed Grants

Go Camping with the EC Student Coalition
Providence Canyon picture

Join the Environmental Center (EC) Student Coalition for their first ever camping trip to Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia! Known as Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon." The EC Student Coalition is a student organization geared toward service and adventure. The group organizes volunteer opportunities, networking events and plenty of trips to the great outdoors! 


Providence Canyon features massive gullies as deep as 150 feet. The gullies were caused by poor farming practices in the 1800s, yet today they offer gorgeous scenery. On Saturday, the group will enjoy a seven-mile hike through the canyon.


The trip will take place from Friday, March 4, to Sunday, March 6. Transportation will be provided, but you may take a personal vehicle. Participants must provide their own camping equipment, but this is a great trip for beginners. The only required equipment is a backpack and sleeping bag! To help cover expenses, students must pay $10 by Feb. 26 to participate. 


Interested students should attend the Monday, Feb. 22 EC Student Coalition meeting to learn more details about the trip. If you have questions, please contact Katie Nicholson

Visit our Facebook page for more information

Swoopin' Up the Butts: Monthly Cigarette Cleanups

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

When: Tuesday, Feb 16, at 4 p.m.

Where: Peace Plaza


Did you know cigarette butts are a significant type of pollution? Not only are cigarette butts the most common type of litter found on roadways and beaches, they also may contain 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 is teaming up with Health Promotions and Volunteer Services to organize monthly cigarette butt cleanups. Last semester volunteers collected an estimated 11,433 cigarette butts. Join us for a kick-butt cleanup! #UNFKicksButts


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

Learn more about other volunteer opportunities

EC Student Coalition General Meeting

Sponsor: Environmental Center

When: Monday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m.

Where: Building 58W, UNF Student Union, Room 3805


The Environmental Center (EC) Student Coalition is hosting their second meeting of the semester. Come out to learn more about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities and socialize with other students. At the meeting, we will be discussing the upcoming camping trip to Providence Canyon State Park in March. If you are interested in going, this would be a great time to learn more about the trip. There will be free food at the event. Please bring a reusable bottle to reduce waste! 


The EC Student Coalition is a new student organization that will enable students to volunteer and organize environmental focused events. The student organization 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. Contact Kelly Rhoden for more information.

More information about Student Coalition meeting

Community Corner

Water Education Festival

Sponsors: City of Jacksonville, Museum of Science and History (MOSH), and the St. Johns Riverkeeper

When: Saturday, Feb. 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free


Celebrate one of Jacksonville's most precious resources, the St. Johns River, by enjoying activities, presentations, and guided boat tours. Find out more about the event on MOSH's website.


National Park Service and the New Urban Agenda

When: Monday, Feb. 8, at 6 pm

Where: REI Jacksonville

Cost: Free


The Sierra Club of Northeast Florida chapter's meeting will feature a presentation by Nathan Souder, National Park Service Urban Fellow, about the centennial celebration of the National Park Service and the new urban agenda implications on Jacksonville. Visit REI's website for more information and register for the event here. 


River Service Day: Landscaping the Bioswale

When: Saturday, Feb. 20, from 10 a.m. to noon

Where: San Marco Bioswale


Contribute to the health of our local environment by trimming, cleaning, weeding, and mulching the San Marco Bioswale. To learn more, visit the St. Johns Riverkeeper's website.  


9th Annual First Coast Air Potato Round-up

When: Saturday, Feb. 28, from 9 a.m. to noon

Where: Various locations


Help rid natural areas of Jacksonville of the Air Potato vine and other invasive plants. Refer to the group's flyer for more information on how to get involved in this collaborative community effort.

Learn more about other upcoming events
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