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Sawmill Slough in Spring
Environmental Center banner with UNF logo

August 2016

Faculty Spotlight: Charles Closmann

Charles Closmann, Ph.D. Department: History


Title: Associate professor and department chair 


Where did you attend graduate school and what did you study? Attended the University of Houston and studied history of modern Europe, history of Nazi Germany and the environmental history of Europe. MA thesis and Ph.D. dissertation focused on the environmental history of Germany, with emphasis on national parks, water quality and water pollution systems. 


When did you start working at UNF? Fall 2004


What is your favorite thing about working at UNF? Wonderful, enthusiastic students, collegial faculty and the nature preserve surrounding the campus. 


How are you involved with the Environmental Center? I am an Environmental Center board member and have been awarded Seed Grants in the past. 


What does your research focus on? Currently, my research focuses on the relationship between warfare and the environment. I have been working on a project related to the impact of World War II era military bases on the environment in Florida. 


Have you been a recipient of a Seed Grant? Yes, I was awarded a Seed Grant in 2010. My grant focused on the environmental history of the St. Johns River. Using the funds from the grant, I designed a class that conducted about 25 oral histories of people associated the with the St. Johns River. 


What is your favorite class to teach? My undergraduate survey on the environmental history of the United States (AMH 3932). I am teaching the course in the fall. We explore the history of things like National Parks, soil erosion, climate change, protest movements and endangered species. We also go on two field trips, one to a sewage treatment plant and one to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. 


Where is your favorite place to enjoy nature? Everglades National Park, Guana River Preserve and Big Bend National Park in Texas. 


What are your favorite outdoor activities? Hiking, bird watching and mountain biking. 


What would you like to do when you retire? Live in the country somewhere, write and play the guitar.  


ELP Student Attends National Conference

PSA Conference Danielle TipleyDanielle Tipley, a recent graduate of UNF and the Environmental Leadership Program, attended the 51st annual Phycological Society of America (PSA) meeting at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. The trip was made possible through the help of the Environmental Center and Department of Biology. Danielle attended the conference with other UNF students and her faculty mentor Dr. Dale Casamatta.


The PSA was founded to promote research and teaching in all fields of phycology, which is the study of algae. During the four-day conference, Tipley presented her own research involving cyanobacteria found in the St. Johns River. Her research started as a project during the St. Johns River Experience, an experiential course offered every year by the Environmental Center. 


In addition, Tipley was able to network with numerous other students, faculty and professional algal research scientists from universities and companies both in the United States and abroad. "Since this conference focuses specifically on areas of research involving different types of algae, I was able to broaden my knowledge pertaining to diatoms and other types of algae that I do not normally work with," Tipley said, adding that she felt the conference was a very positive and enriching experience. "I plan to utilize the tools and knowledge gained in future research efforts," she said.

Learn more about other Project Leaders in the Environmental Leadership Program.

Beyond the Trail: A Walk Through History

Beyond the Trail graphicWhat do a Civil War site, a slave plantation and an ancient Native American shell ring all have in common? They are all right here, nestled in Northeast Florida, very near UNF! The Jacksonville area is filled with rich history dating back several thousand years, but many people do not realize how close they live to where significant cultural and historical events happened.  


Beyond the Trail: A Walk Through History is composed of five unique outings to local city, state and national parks located in Northeast Florida. Each outing will be focused on a different period of history, from pre-European history to the history of Jacksonville. These outings will be more than just a visit to the parks; they will be fun and informative experiences for students, who will also have an opportunity to network with local business and civic leaders, including the Timucuan Parks Foundation, the National Park Service, Florida State Parks and the City of Jacksonville. 


The outings for this year's Beyond the Trail series will include (dates TBD): 

October - Fort Caroline National Monument

November - Talbot Island State Park

January - Camp Milton Historic Preserve

February - Kingsley Plantation

March - Wrap-up party in the Sawmill Slough Preserve

Beyond the Trail is open to all current UNF students. The cost is $20 for the entire series and includes a T-shirt and refreshments at each event. Students are expected to participate in all five events. Details and registration for the program are still being finalized, but if you are interested in participating, e-mail Project Leader Kaley Crawford or stop by the Environmental Center in Building 1, Room 2200.
Group photo from 2015 Beyond the Trail series

Learn more about the Beyond the Trail program.

Volunteers Needed for Tree Survey

Tree Survey Volunteers GraphicVolunteers are needed to assist with a tree survey in the historic Springfield/Eastside area of downtown Jacksonville. This volunteer event is part of the Tree Rx: Prescribing Urban Trees for Community Health, an ongoing student-led project partnering with Groundwork Jacksonville. Tree Rx focuses on opportunities to plant trees in the historic Springfield/Eastside area to improve community health. The outcome of this project is to create an opportunity map that identifies areas for planting trees.  


The volunteer fieldwork will consist of collecting data, taking photos and identifying opportunities to plant trees throughout the Springfield/Eastside neighborhoods. Volunteers will work in small groups and conduct walking surveys throughout the area. The volunteer shifts will be approximately three hours, and volunteers will be expected to walk the majority of the time. Please bring a reusable water bottle and sun protection.


Volunteer dates are Saturdays Aug. 6, 13, 20 and 27 from 8-11 a.m.

Click here to sign up as a volunteer.

Jacksonville Environmental Symposium "Earth in Crisis - Practical Environmental Solutions"

Sponsors: City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and Environmental Center 

When: Friday, Sept. 9, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Where: Adam W. Herbert University Center

Cost: $25-50 individuals; $175 lunch table (8 people); $250 exhibitor 

Registration for the 2016 Jacksonville Environmental Symposium is now open! 


Click here to register for the symposium


The Jacksonville Environmental Symposium presents a unique opportunity for members of the community to interact with the regulatory agencies responsible for developing and implementing environmental policy. The symposium provides valuable opportunities for communication and helps to further the goal of protecting our limited natural resources and improving the quality of life in Northeast Florida. The event features opening, lunch and closing general sessions, as well as a number of breakout sessions on topics of interest. The symposium features the release of the annual State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin, which is prepared by faculty from UNF, Jacksonville University and Valdosta State University. 

Click here for more information about the symposium.

Student Coalition Recap from Devil's Den Camping Trip

The Environmental Center (EC) Student Coalition recently went on a weekend camping trip to the springs! A group of 16 students visited multiple springs and parks throughout central and western Florida. The trip started with a day full of snorkeling and swimming at Devil's Den. The students then made their way to Manatee Springs State Park to make camp. They also enjoyed more snorkeling and swimming in the springs. On Saturday the students visited Rainbow Springs State Park, where the group bonded during a two-hour float down Rainbow River and enjoyed lunch by the spring head. On the last day of the trip the group visited Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park for a day hike, during which they spotted a couple of bison and plenty of alligators! 


The trip was a huge success and the students were able to get to know each other while enjoying s'mores and campfire dinners together. They also spotted many different types of wildlife including fish, turtles and multiple bird species over the weekend. The EC Student Coalition is planning more exciting trips for the upcoming semester! 


Are you interested in learning more about the EC Student Coalition? Be sure to join them for their fall kick-off meeting Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m. in Building 58W, Student Union, Room 3805. 


Collage of students from camping trip

Pre[serve] Juried Art Exhibition

10th anniversary of the Preserve collageThe Department of Art and Design, UNF Gallery of Art and the Environmental Center are pleased to announce Pre[serve], a juried 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. The 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 the 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.

Community Corner

Swim Shorts Film Festival

SponsorsSt. Johns Riverkeeper and Sun-Ray Cinema

When: Thursday, Aug. 18

Where: Sun-Ray Cinema


The Swim Shorts Film Festival seeks to celebrate Northeast Florida's waterways through the lenses of the local filmmakers. Selected films will be shown at Sun-Ray Cinema, highlighting Northeast Florida's waters. All proceeds from the festival, including ticket sales and donations, will go to the St. Johns Riverkeeper for use in their public awareness and conservation efforts. Click here for more information.  


Screening of "The Clean Bin Project"

Sponsors: USGBC North Florida Region and Environmental Center

When: Thursday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m.

Where: Jessie Ball DuPont Center

Cost: Free


Is it possible to live completely waste free? In this multi-award winning, festival favorite, partners Jen and Grant go head-to-head in a competition to see who can swear off consumerism and create the least amount of garbage. Their light-hearted competition is set against a darker examination of the problem of waste. 


River Ruckus

Sponsors: St. Johns Riverkeeper and Riverside Arts Market

When: Saturday, Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Riverside Arts Market

Cost: Free


Enjoy a family-friendly festival celebrating two of our region's most important assets — the St. Johns River and the Riverside Arts Market (RAM) — at the fourth annual River Ruckus! The event will include water based activities, kids crafts, educational programming, live local music, craft beer from SweetWater Brewing Company, plus all the unique art, produce and food vendors that RAM offers every Saturday. Click here for more information


Harvest Moon Rising

Sponsor: Timucuan Parks Foundation

When: Saturday, Sept. 17, from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Where: The Historic Napoleon Bonaparte Broward House

Cost: $125


Join the Timucuan Parks Foundation as they celebrate their accomplishments and the National Park Services 100th birthday. The evening will include tours of the Broward House, music, food and plenty of fun. Visit the Timucuan Parks Foundation's website for details and registration. 

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