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Sawmill Slough in Spring

April 2016

Faculty Spotlight: Christopher Baynard, Ph.D.

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


Christopher Baynard, Ph.D.

Department: Economics and geography


Title: Associate professor of geography and geographic information system (GIS)


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

MA, Louisiana State University — geography, anthropology and Spanish


Ph.D., University of Florida — geography, GIS and political ecology


When did you start working at UNF? 2008 in my current position in the Coggin College of Business. I previously worked in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures


What is your favorite thing about working at UNF? The location, surrounded by trees — the Sawmill Slough Preserve and the collegiate working atmosphere.


How are you involved with the Environmental Center? I serve as a board member, representing the Coggin College of Business in activities such as program planning, grant funding and participating in Environmental Center campus events, such as Garbage on the Green and donning the Tyvek suit.

What does your research focus on? Measuring, mapping and monitoring surface disturbance footprint created by energy production, such as oil, gas and wind, using geospatial technologies. This research helps industry and regulators better plan and reduce their footprint, leading to more sustainable energy production through reduced environmental disturbance.  


Have you been a recipient of a Seed Grant? If so, what was the project? Yes, quantifying surface disturbance related to oil and gas operations in West Florida (yes, Florida is an oil-producing state). The grant allowed me to hire two student research assistants, which led to a published paper. 


What is your favorite class to teach? Geographic information systems (GIS), because students learn to apply geographical thought to spatial analysis, through the use of powerful mapping analysis software, to solve real-world problems, answer research questions, make better business decisions and potentially shape policy. 

Where is your favorite place to enjoy nature? How much space do I have? The beach, the woods, nature trails and mountains. Examples include, Florida Springs, Okefenokee, Fort Caroline, Guana River, Fort George Island and the Talbot Island State Parks, UNF nature trails, Jacksonville Baldwin Trail, Washington Oaks, the Florida Keys and the Appalachian Mountains. 


Lately, the Pawnee National Grasslands in Colorado. The wide, remote, open grassland vistas, with the Rocky Mountains in the background, provide a unique and calming experience that underscores the powerful role of nature often dismissed in our busy suburban lives. 


What are your favorite outdoor activities? Long distance longboarding on paved nature trails, walking, hiking, biking, swimming at the beach and landscape photography. 


What would you like to do when you retire? Continue traveling abroad with my awesome wife and stay for prolonged periods.  

A Decade of Transformation through the St. Johns River Experience

Group photo This year marked the 10th annual St. Johns River Experience; an annual course offered every spring focused on one of Florida's most important ecosystems, the St. Johns River. This year's group included nine students from interdisciplinary backgrounds. The St. Johns River Experience is a unique total-immersion opportunity open to all undergraduate students at the University of North Florida. Through a combination of curricular and cocurricular activities, students develop a deep understanding of the St. Johns River, its importance to surrounding communities and the issues threatening the River's future. As a result, students develop a sense of place, undergo personal growth and have an opportunity to explore research opportunities and potential careers in multifaceted environmental fields. 


Throughout the semester, students interacted with a number of guest speakers who discussed prominent issues affecting the St. Johns River. The speakers also introduced the students to possible career paths ranging from advocacy and science to filmmaking. The best part of the St. Johns River Experience takes place over spring break when students have an opportunity to explore the River's diverse watershed. Students spent their days visiting state parks, swimming springs, paddling down tributaries and boating on the St. Johns River. 


The 2016 St. Johns River Experience was a huge success based on the feedback from the students who participated. Here are just a few of the comments from students: 

Being a psychology major, I did not have a lot of knowledge about environmental issues. After taking this course, I feel well informed and educated. The class gave me a great understanding of Florida springs, aquifers and the chemistry behind it. — Ali Schweers, psychology junior


It gave me the chance to get back in nature. I had forgotten how incredible being out in nature was and that I do not have to travel far to find it. — Zach Sincage, economics junior


Hearing about issues in a class setting taught me how nitrates, dissolved oxygen and salinty affect our River's health. However, actually performing the tests on different parts of the River brought an understanding to the concept that learning in a classroom cannot provide. — Nikki Adams, biology junior

Highlights from the 2016 St. Johns River Experience:

Guest Speakers
  • Dr. Robert Knight, director of the Florida Springs Institute
  • Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper
  • Dr. Quint White, director of Jacksonville University's Marine Science Research Institute
  • Dr. Eric Johnson, UNF biology faculty
  • Dr. Charles Closmann, UNF history faculty and chair
  • Matt Keene, filmmaker and explorer
  • Scott Mitchell, director of the Silver River Museum
  • Ben Williams, owner of Fisherman's Dock and St. Johns Riverkeeper board member
  • UNF President John A. Delaney
  • Dr. Keith Ashley, UNF anthropology
  • Hiking at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
  • Visiting the JEA downtown laboratory
  • Paddling Juniper Springs Run and Rock Springs Run
  • Boat touring on the St. Johns River and Silver River
  • Hiking at Hontoon Island State Park
  • Swimming in the St. Johns River
  • Visiting Silver Glen Springs, Blue Spring, Juniper Spring, Silver Springs and De Leon Springs 

Pictures from the 2016 St. Johns River Experience

Learn more about the St. Johns River Experience

Pre[serve] Juried Art Exhibition

UNF Nature TrailsThe Department of Art and Design, UNF Gallery of Art and the Environmental Center are pleased to announce Pre[serve], a juried art exhibition that celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Sawmill Slough Preserve. There is an open call for submissions with a special interest in work that bears witness to the Preserve's natural beauty and captures the magic of this monumental environment. This exhibition will showcase works that share personal experiences, inspire others to connect with this environment and evoke awareness of the Preserve's perpetuity.


The Sawmill Slough Preserve is a 382-acre protected area located on the UNF campus. The Preserve's natural beauty and rich biodiversity allures both biologists and artists alike. In May 2006, President John A. Delaney designated the pristine area of campus as a nature preserve, protecting it for future generations of Ospreys to enjoy!


All works must be submitted by Monday, Sept. 16 by e-mail to Jim Draper, coordinator of UNF art galleries. The accepted works will be displayed in the UNF Gallery of Art from Oct. 18 through Nov. 18. There will be cash awards and purchase prizes for the winning pieces. For questions, please contact Jim Draper by e-mail, phone (904) 620-2534 or visit the UNF Gallery of Art in Building 2, Founders Hall

Learn more about the Pre[serve] Juried Art Exhibition

Reusable Bag Design Competition

Reusable bag graphicTo build upon the energy and celebrate the importance of campus sustainability, the UNF Bookstore, Environmental Center and Pepsi are hosting a reusable bag design contest. Students of all majors, faculty and alumni are encouraged to participate. The winning design will be printed on approximately 1,000 reusable bags that will be given out to customers at the beginning of the fall semester. The winner will be awarded an Environmental Center T-shirt and a prize  of their choice under $50 from the Bookstore. We will announce the winner on Earth Day, April 22.

  • Please submit a digital design by e-mail to unfecenter@gmail.com by 5 p.m. Friday, April 15.
  • Dimensions of the design should be no bigger than 12" tall by 6" wide.
  • Design is limited to one color.
  • Include name of designer, classification (student, faculty, alumnus) and major or department in submission e-mail.

For more information contact James Taylor, Environmental Center coordinator.

Textbook Collection and EC Student Coalition Fundraiser

Do you have unwanted books? Then we want them! The Environmental Center Student Coalition collects unwanted books at the end of every semester from students and faculty. More than 200 pounds of books were collected last semester! Thank you to everyone who donated a book.


All collected books will be sent to Better World Books, which supports literacy programs around the world. Better World Books also supports the organizations that help collect books by giving them a small percentage of the books' total value. All proceeds from the textbook collection will benefit the Environmental Center Student Coalition. Funds will be used to support outings, service projects and more.


Collection bins will be available outside the UNF Bookstore and all housing areas from Monday, April 18, to Friday, April 29. As always, you can donate your books any time of the year in the Environmental Center office located in Building 1, J.J, Daniel Hall, Room 2200. Faculty may request a pickup of textbooks from their office.

For more information, please e-mail Kevin O'Halloran.

Natural Wonders Continuing Education Course

Have you ever wondered what sorts of creatures live in the marsh down the street, or who is making all of those peculiar, singing sounds in the nighttime trees and bushes? Are you curious about how the local landscapes were formed and why certain trees and bushes? If you want an introduction to the diverse habitats and landscapes of Northeast Florida, then this is the course for you. Your instructor will guide you on a concise survey of the plants and animals of the Florida flatwoods, tidal marshes, cypress forests and coastal marshes that you see every day. You will spend three sessions in an interactive, enjoyable classroom format. There will be two Saturday field trips. The first on May 14 will be held at the UNF Sawmill Slough Preserve. The second outing, on May 21, is a half-day field trip to Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. 


The cost of the 5 session course, which includes two field trips, is $109. There is a required text, "Sandhills, Swamps & Sea Islands: Environmental Guidebook to Northeast Florida," which was published by the Environmental Center and costs $24.99.  

Click here for more information and registration.

Providence Canyon Camping Trip

The Environmental Center Student Coalition recently completed its first camping trip, which we are proud to say was a huge success! A group of 46 amazing students visited Providence Canyon State Park the weekend of March 4. The students hiked several trails, appreciated the magnificent views and learned about the park's history and ecology from park rangers. The camping trip brought together members of the Student Coalition, who spent the weekend enjoying the great outdoors and getting to know each other while sitting around the campfire. 


Providence Canyon is an aesthetically scenic park just outside of Lumpkin, Ga. The massive gully was originally created by poor farming and irrigation practices in the mid and late 1800s. The eroded earth exposes exquisite layers of colorful clay and sand making it a very unique scenery. 


The Student Coalition is excited to start planning their next camping trip and other programs for summer and beyond.

Providence Canyon Group Photo 

Check out photos from the camping trip on Facebook.

Swoopin' Up the Butts

Sponsors: Environmental Center, Department of Health Promotions

When: Tuesday, April 12, 4 p.m.

Where: Peace Plaza


Be part of our monthly cigarette butt cleanups to help ensure our campus remains beautiful and litter-free. Cigarette butts are a common type a litter made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, that does not decompose and will persist in the environment for years. Together the Environmental Center and Health Promotions will be Swoopin' Up the Butts! 


No preregistration required. Students, faculty and staff are all encouraged to participate. All supplies will be provided for volunteers. Please bring a reusable water bottle to help reduce waste! 


Join us for a kick-butt cleanup! #UNFKickButts

Swoopin' Up the Butts spring 2016

Join the Facebook event!

Green Carpet Film Series: "Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret"

Sponsors: U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) North Florida Chapter and Environmental Center

When: Tuesday, April 19, 6 p.m.

Where: Corozan Cinema and Café, St. Augustine


Take a trip down to St. Augustine for a screening of the thought-provoking documentary "Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret." The film is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today — and investigates why the world's leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. 

Visit the USGBC website for more information.

First Annual Citizen Science Day at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Sponsors: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and UNF Environmental Center

When: Saturday, April 16, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Where: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, at the Gardens of Trout River Plaza near the dock

Cost: Free with regular zoo admission


Come out to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens as we help them celebrate the first annual Citizen Science Day at the Zoo! This is a great opportunity to learn about citizen science and the volunteer programs offered by the Zoo and Environmental Center. Citizen Science day will take place during Party for the Planet, the Zoo's Earth Day celebration. 


Volunteers needed, e-mail Project Leader Kim Daly-Crews for details!

Click here for the Citizen Science Day poster.

Public Service Through Environmental Policy Advocacy

Sponsors: Department of Political Science and Public Administration and Environmental Center

When: Thursday, May 19, from 5-7 p.m.


Neil Armingeon, Matanzas Riverkeeper

Neil Armingeon, the Matanzas Riverkeeper, will be speaking on campus Thursday, May 19 as part of a program on public service through environmental policy advocacy. The Matanzas Riverkeeper organization, a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, fights "to protect and defend the remarkable Matanzas River Watershed."


Neil is a longtime environmental advocate and has a Masters degree in coastal ecology from Duke University. In Northeast Florida, Neil served as the St. Johns Riverkeeper from 2003 to 2012. This followed years as the Environmental Director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation in Louisiana and as a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. A local legend, Neil Armingeon is an extremely knowledgeable environmental scientist, a passionate defender of America's waterways and a dynamic speaker.

For more information, contact Dr. George Candler, director of UNF masters in public administration program.

Community Corner

International Migratory Bird Day Celebration

Sponsor: Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve and Little Talbot State Park

When: Saturday, April 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Little Talbot Island State Park  

Cost: Free event with paid admission of $5 per vehicle


Enjoy International Migratory Bird Day at the third annual Spread Your Wings day of celebration. A full day of interactive activities. Volunteers are needed. Sign up here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/IMBD2016

More upcoming events
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