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Sawmill Slough in Spring

November 2016

Student Spotlight: Sean Lahav

Lahav, SeanWhere are you from? South Florida and Cape Cod. I was born and raised in Boynton Beach, but my heart and soul will always remain in New England.


Why did you choose UNF? I came to UNF because of its proximity to the beach and short drive from the mountains, small class sizes and environmentally driven focus.
What is your favorite spot on campus? My favorite place on campus is the Sawmill Slough Preserve. The trails are an amazing escape for exercising, reconnecting with friends and relaxing in the woods, especially during the winter months. I love it so much because of its peacefulness and crisp air.


What is your major and why did you choose that major? I am a Political Science major with a concentration in International Relations and Comparative Politics. I also have a minor in Environmental Studies. My interests in foreign policy and environmental law inspired me to follow this academic path. I chose this major because of the exceptional opportunities I knew it would provide including meeting with policy makers in Arizona to discuss sustainable development, lobbying on Capitol Hill for maternal health rights and doing research on democratic governance right here in Jacksonville.


What are your plans after graduation? I am currently a senior and will be graduating from UNF in May 2017. I plan on attending graduate school with the ambition of earning an advanced degree in sustainable development or international affairs. I have long-term goals of having a career in academia and pursuing a Ph.D. I also plan to travel extensively, continue my trade as a photographer and backpack in wilderness areas all across the United States. The key is finding balance between my career aspirations and wilderness aspirations.


What is your dream job? If the opportunity presented itself my dream job would be to travel the world and make creative content. My dream has always been to be a National Geographic photographer and videographer. My dream job would also encompass downhill skateboarding, mountaineering, rock climbing and eating food from all around the world!


How did you get involved with the Environmental Center? I sent my resume to Dr. Lambert, Maria Mark and James Taylor, and the rest is history. I joined the team in January 2016 and have been working on my project for 11 months now.


What is your job title and what do you do at the Environmental Center? I am a Project Leader in the Environmental Leadership Program. For my project I partnered with the Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida last January and have been hard at work ever since. My project is focused on creating a 22-episode documentary series titled "Exploring Northeast Florida's Special Places." I have filmed city, state and national parks and have created a film series that highlights what each of them has to offer. My work includes traveling, hiking, filming, editing and recording voice-overs. The process is extensive but has given me an incredible outlook on what Northeast Florida has to offer. I highly recommend everyone to get out and explore the incredible conservation system Jacksonville has to offer!


What is your favorite Environmental Center activity? Most of my favorite memories with the Environmental Center have been outside. I have spent every single week of the past year hiking and exploring the largest urban park system the United States has to offer and have also spent a considerable amount of time camping with some incredible friends. Highlights include spending time with the Environmental Center founder, Dr. Ray Bowman, and camping with a group of students in Providence Canyon State Park. My colleague Kelly Rhoden spearheaded the Environmental Center Student Coalition this year, which has gathered a lot of student interest in wilderness excursions. Last month we took a group of 19 students to the Smoky Mountains National Park, which ended up being one of my favorite memories ever!


What are your hobbies? My hobbies include photography, skateboarding, rock climbing, backpacking, paddle boarding and writing. I recently picked up surfing and have been waking up early for some colorful sunrises over at Huguenot Memorial Park and Jacksonville Beach. 


What is the environmental issue you are most interested in? The environmental issue I care most about is climate change. I think about it often because I know how consequential its effects will be on future generations. I aspire to one day make a difference in our world by advocating policies that conserve the environment, protect biodiversity and embrace sustainable development. I am currently working on research that explores the relationship between democratic governance and air quality, as well as crafting policy proposal aimed at increasing United States engagement in the Arctic Circle. Other students and I will be presenting this proposal to senior government officials in Washington D.C. this November with the help of Ambassador Nancy Soderberg.


What makes you passionate about the environment? My passion for the environment was birthed out of my love for the outdoors. I have spent a considerable amount of time traveling off the grid, camping in harsh environments and sleeping under the stars. I am passionate about the environment because I am a product of the environment. 


Who is your hero and why? My environmental hero is Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. His entrepreneurial spirit is unmatched and his methods for business and rock climbing are inspiring. I thank Yvon and Patagonia for facilitating some of my early inspirations to get outside and explore, because ever since my life has been better. In the words of Yvon Chouinard himself, "How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top." I have taken these words as an inspiration for my own life and career aspirations. If more people thought like Yvon our world would be a far better place.

Learn more about our project leaders.

ELP Update - Project Leaders Receive Award

COJ Mayors Luncheon 2016 ELPThe Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) and one of its projects, "TreeRx: Prescribing Urban Trees for a Healthy Community," received an award from City Beautiful Jax at this year's Mayor's Environmental Luncheon held in September on the UNF campus. This project was selected by City Beautiful Jax because of its focus on the health benefits of trees for the Springfield/Eastside communities and identifying the "right place for the right tree" within the public right-of-ways.


The TreeRx project was in partnership with Groundwork Jacksonville, which needed to create a tree planting strategy as part of its strategic plan for the Springfield/Eastside communities. Project leader Madison Masters led a team of volunteers to conduct fieldwork in mapping every block to determine the best opportunities for tree planting. Project leaders Kelly Rhoden and Daniel Norez researched the benefits of trees and produced a report of their findings for Groundwork Jacksonville. In addition, they are creating a brochure that will be given to homeowners and businesses interested in planting trees on their property. The brochure will give them information on the benefits of trees, recommend trees to plant and provide information on care and maintenance.

Learn more about the Environmental Leadership Program.

EC Student Coalition Update

Student Coalition Smoky Mountains group photoThe Environmental Center Student Coalition took a weekend trip to Smoky Mountain National Park in October. Students hiked part of the Appalachian Trail, played in the snow and had a close encounter with a gang of elk. Get a glimpse of their frosty adventure on Facebook.


The club will have its last meeting of the semester Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. in the Student Union. Come out and meet your new Student Coalition officers and share your hopes for the spring semester!


The EC Student Coalition is for students who have a passion for adventure, nature and conservation. This club enables them to volunteer, participate and plan environmental-based events. Participation in the club provides like-minded students with the opportunity to contribute to campus sustainability and gain leadership experience.

Keep up to date by joining their Facebook group!

Campus Sustainability Month Summary

Every October the University of North Florida celebrates Campus Sustainability Month. It is a time for the campus community to celebrate UNF's achievements and an opportunity to educate students, faculty and staff about the importance of sustainability. The theme for the 2016 Campus Sustainability Month was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Sawmill Slough Preserve. In 2006, President John A. Delaney signed the documents establishing the 382-acre nature preserve. 


In celebration of Campus Sustainability Month, the Environmental Center and other departments and organizations hosted a number of great events. Here is a short recap of those events.  

The Yoga Cleanup at Memorial Park also had to be rescheduled because of Hurricane Matthew and will now take place Saturday, Nov. 19 and at Oceanfront Park in Jacksonville Beach.


A nighttime insect collection was hosted to help collect specimens from the Sawmill Slough Preserve. Six students volunteered to help check traps located throughout the Preserve. Any new species found will be added to the Preserve Digital Archive. This was our first insect collection, but we hope to host more in the future.   


The Pre[serve] Art Exhibition was the anchor event for Campus Sustainability Month, and we are happy to say it was a huge success! The exhibition showcased works from 12 students and featured a total of 16 amazing pieces of art inspired by the Sawmill Slough Preserve. More than 60 people attended the exhibition opening Tuesday, Oct. 18, and the exhibition will remain open until Nov. 18. For those of you who could not make the opening, the Environmental Center has created a digital tour of the exhibition, which includes a map of where each artists found his or her inspiration. You can also see photos from the opening on the Environmental Center's Facebook page


Preserve Adventure Fest had to be rescheduled because of downed trees in the Preserve caused by Hurricane Matthew, but took place Thursday, Nov. 10. The program was a partnership between the Environmental Center and Eco Adventure, with support from Outdoor Nation. At the event students enjoyed educational information about the Preserve, nature-themed crafts and zip lined over the lake. Check out photos from the event on Facebook.  


Other events included a screening of the documentary "Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret" hosted by the UNF Vegetarian and Vegan Association, a Halloween inspired event called Scary Sustainability hosted by the UNF Housing Sustainability Committee and multiple workshops hosted by the Ogier Gardens. 

Campus Sustainability Month is a campus-wide initiative and would not be possible without help from our amazing campus partners. We would like to thank the Sustainability Committee, Physical Facilities, Health Promotions, Ogier Gardens, UNF Vegetarian and Vegan Association, UNF Housing Sustainability Committee, Gallery of Art and the Department of Art and Design. Also, thank you to all of the student artists who submitted work for the art exhibition and volunteers who helped plan and execute all of our events. We are already looking forward to the next Campus Sustainability Month! 
Learn more about Campus Sustainability Month.

Yoga Beach Cleanup - Volunteers Needed!

Yoga Beach Cleanup Jax beachWhen: Saturday, Nov. 19, from 3-5 p.m.

Cost: Free


Enjoy two activities — yoga and cleaning up the beach — during one great event! The event starts with an hour of yoga, led by UNF alumni Kaki Bryan. Afterward, participants will help clean litter from the beach and surrounding areas. This cleanup is especially exciting because participants will also help clean up the UNF Seaside Sculpture Park, located right across the street from Oceanfront Park.  


Trash bags and gloves will be provided. Please make sure to bring a yoga mat (or towel) and a reusable water bottle. If you are an Eta Sigma Gamma member, this will count as a November event.

Join the Facebook event.

Maritime Management Plan Public Open House Meetings

Partners: Northeast Florida Regional Council and Jacksonville University

WhenTuesday, Dec. 6, from 6-8 p.m.

WhereSouth Beach Park Community Center in Jacksonville Beach

Cost: Free

Help improve access to your waterways! The Duval County Maritime Management Plan team is hosting a series of public open house meetings. The events give the community an opportunity to learn about the plan, share what they think about our waterways and make recommendations. The meeting will be an open hour format, with maps and information about waterways and facilities available for review. Participants are encouraged to take a survey at JAXBOATPLAN.com before they attend.

Call for Volunteers: Join the Preserve Ambassadors

Become Preserve Ambassadors! The Environmental Center is launching a new volunteer group for students who are passionate about the Sawmill Slough Preserve. The Ambassadors will help educate others about the Sawmill Slough Preserve and conservation through educational programming and guided hikes. In addition, the Ambassadors will help maintain safe hiking trails for everyone to enjoy and much more. Being Preserve Ambassador will give students a unique set of benefits and privileges. 


Attend the informational meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15 following the Environmental Center Student Coalition meeting, which should end by 9 p.m.


Collage of plants from the Preserve

Join the Facebook event.

Community Corner

Oyster Roast

When: Friday, Nov. 18, from 7-11 p.m.
Cost: $125 each; $75 for 35 and under


The annual Oyster Roast is a critical fundraising event, helping to support the advocacy, outreach and education programs of St. Johns Riverkeeper year round. Enjoy delicious oysters and seafood from Fisherman's Dock, tasty food from Biscottis, live music from Cloud 9 and an outstanding Silent Auction, as we celebrate the St. Johns River and the community that protects it along the riverfront.


Salt Marsh Brewgrass Festival  

Sponsors: North Florida Land Trust

When: Saturday, Nov. 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Big Talbot Island Biological Field Station  

Cost: $35 advance tickets; $40 at the door; kids under 12 are free


Enjoy an array of food trucks, local brews and a great lineup of "Brewgrass" music while you savor the outdoors and sounds of the South in the Florida Fall! Bring your reusable water bottle, your blanket or chairs and invite your family and friends.


Bearing Witness: An Art Installation by Sarah Crooks Flaire 

Sponsors: Museum of Science and History (MOSH) and Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville

When: Saturday, Nov. 19, from 7:30-8 p.m.

Where: Museum of Science and History (MOSH)

Cost: Free


Join the MOSH Artist in Residence, Sarah Crooks Flaire, for a gallery talk about her recent exhibition while celebrating MOSH's 75th anniversary! The art exhibition, "Bearing Witness" highlights Florida's Black Bears and their relationship to the St. Johns River. Bearing Witness will open Nov. 11 and run until Feb. 26. To learn more about Sarah Crooks-Flaire and her environmental artwork visit her website.


McCoys Creek Cleanup  

Sponsors: Rising Tides of St. Johns Riverkeeper, Keep Jacksonville Beautiful and UNF Environmental Center

When: Sunday, Nov. 20, from 10 a.m. to noon

Where: Woodstock Park

Cost: Free


Help the local group of young professionals, Rising Tides, clean up the community by picking up litter in and around McCoys Creek. This month they will focus on the upper branch from Woodstock Park. More information is provided on their website.


Hogans Creek Biodiversity Festival  

Sponsors: Groundwork Jacksonville

When: Saturday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Henry J. Klutho Park

Cost: Free


Join the celebration of the diverse living things found in Jacksonville's urban core. It'll be a fun day of science, food trucks, healthy activities, games and more on the Emerald Necklace along the banks of Hogans Creek. Volunteers are needed for the event. For more details, check out the Groundwork Jacksonville website.

More upcoming events
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