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Sawmill Slough in Spring

December 2016

Environmental Center 2016 Annual Report

Annual Report 2016 thumbnailAs 2016 comes to an end, we are pleased to release our 2016 annual report. The report highlights our accomplishments from the 2016 academic year, which took place from August 2015 through July 2016. Student Communications Coordinator Natalie Sassine designed the annual report, with assistance and input from other Environmental Center staff.


The 2016 Environmental Center Annual Report includes:

  • Year in summary
  • Environmental Center staff and faculty board members
  • Profiles of the 13 Environmental Leadership Program Project Leaders and their projects
  • Highlight of Seed Grant recipients
  • List of community programs and partnerships
  • Discussion of projects in each of our priority areas:
    • Rivers, coasts and springs;
    • Parks and preserves; and
    • Sustainability.

Visit our Digital Commons collection for past annual reports.

Faculty Spotlight: Josh Gellers, Ph.D.

Josh Gellers, Ph.D.Department: Political Science and Public Administration


Title: Assistant professor


Where did you attend graduate school and what did you study? I earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Irvine, and prior to that I completed an M.A. in Climate and Society at Columbia University.


When did you start working at UNF? I began working at UNF in August 2014, immediately after finishing graduate school.


What is your favorite thing about working at UNF? Hands down the students. I have been privileged to work with many passionate, hard working students who have a strong desire to make positive changes in this world. The students possess a lot of energy, and I really enjoy advising them and helping them plot how they can achieve their dreams.


How are you involved with the Environmental Center? I have supervised students in the Environmental Leadership Program, participated in the Jax Climate Change Policy Steering Committee, facilitated the Jacksonville Sustainability Workshop and served on the UNF Sustainability Committee since I arrived on campus.


What does your research focus on? Broadly speaking, my research focuses on the origins and impacts of environmental law and policy. In particular, I study environmental rights, environmental justice and environmental implications of development assistance.


Have you been a recipient of a Seed Grant? No, but I have served on the committee that selects and awards recipients.


Where is your favorite place to enjoy nature? Locally, Neptune Beach. Outside of Florida, I would have to say Wood's Cove in Laguna Beach, California.


What would you like to do when you retire? I would like to live in a zero-emissions cabin in New England and write fiction novels at a local coffee shop. 

ELP Update: Best Wishes to our Graduating Project Leaders

This is a very exciting (and sad) time of year when we congratulate our graduating Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) students. These students have been with us since the inception of the ELP and have set the bar high for current and incoming student project leaders. We wish them all the best of luck as they begin the next chapter of their lives.


O'Halloran, Kevin ELP graduate

Going forward, I hope to attain a master's degree in urban planning and use the experience gained here to help shape cities in a more sustainable manner. I have already started the process by accepting an AmeriCorps position with Springfield Preservation and Revitalization (SPAR) to help assist in the development of Jacksonville's most historic urban neighborhood just north of Downtown. The opportunities afforded to me by the Environmental Center are something for which I will always be thankful.

          -    Kevin O'Halloran

Rhoden, Kelly ELP graduate

After graduation, I plan on backpacking through Europe. After traveling, I would like to pursue a master's degree in Public Health at the University of North Florida. My time at the Environmental Center has provided me with professional skills and knowledge that will last a lifetime, and I would like to stay involved with the Environmental Center as a volunteer. 

          -    Kelly Rhoden

Norez, Daniel ELP graduate

My experience with the ELP has greatly influenced my postgraduate plans. After taking some well-deserved personal time, I will focus on working with local nonprofits developing educational material that focuses on regional environmental issues. My long-term goal is to operate my own nonprofit and perhaps provide future project leaders with opportunities to work on environmental projects.

          -    Daniel Norez


Masters, Madison ELP graduate

After graduation, I plan to take a year off and study for my GRE. I want to continue my education and pursue a master's degree in urban planning.

          -    Madison Masters

Hutchins, Renee ELP graduate

After I graduate, I hope to receive a Pathways Internship with the National Park Service, which will convert to a permanent position with the parks after I successfully complete the 11-week internship. In the meantime, I am looking forward to a short vacation to Memphis, Tennessee, right after graduation!

          -    Renee Hutchins


Daley-Crews, Kim ELP graduate

After graduation, I went full time at my job with the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation (SEZARC) where I am a lab tech and manage the SEZARC lab at UNF. Working with the Environmental Center as a project leader in the ELP helped me a great deal with my organizational skills and time management. I believe my experiences with event planning while working with the Environmental Center will definitely help me in the long run. Overall I feel that I grew both as a person and an employee during my time with the Environmental Center!

           -    Kim Daly-Crews

Visit the Environmental Leadership Program webpage to learn more.

Our Guidebook to Northeast Florida Makes a Great Holiday Gift!

EC GuidebookThis holiday season, buy a gift that gives back. "Sandhills, Swamps and Sea Islands" is the essential guidebook for anyone with a personal or professional interest in the natural resources and preserved lands within Northeast Florida. The Environmental Center along with authors, Heather P. McCarthy and Lynn M. Lisenby, bring you an entertaining and practical guide to our local natural wonders.


Your purchase will help further the mission and programs of the Environmental Center. You can conveniently buy online or save on shipping by picking up your copy at the Environmental Center office located in J.J. Daniel Hall, Building 1, Room 2200.

Purchase "Sandhills, Swamps and Sea Islands: Environmental Guidebook to Northeast Florida."

Textbook Collection

Textbook collection binAt the end of each semester the Environmental Center collects unwanted textbooks from students and faculty. Donations will be sent to Better World Books, a company that donates and sells books to implement literacy and education programs around the world. The company will also donate some of the proceeds to the Environmental Center, and those funds will be used by the Environmental Center Student Coalition to support camping adventures, service projects and more.


Join us in an effort to reduce waste and promote literacy and education programs worldwide! Donations will be collected at the blue bin outside the UNF Bookstore.

Student Coalition Update

Student Coalition group photoThe Environmental Center Student Coalition recently held elections and elected a new president and vice president. Our new president is Nikki Adams and our new vice president is Kyle Kenney. The new officers are busy planning a full schedule of activities for the spring semester; be sure to join the Facebook group to get all the updates. 


If you are interested in participating in the Environmental Center Student Coalition, join us for our monthly meetings in the upcoming semester. Meeting dates:

  • Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. in Student Union, Building 58W, Room 3805
  • Feb. 21, at 8 p.m. in Student Union, Building 58W, Room 3804
  • March 14, at 8 p.m. in Student Union, Building 58W, Room 3804
  • April 11, at 8 p.m. in Student Union, Building 58W, Room 3804

The Student Coalition is for students who have a passion for adventure, nature and conservation. This club enables them to volunteer and 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!

Outdoor Nation Update and Upcoming Events

Preserve Adventure Fest Recap

Recently, students came together at the Osprey Challenge Course for an evening of conversation, crafts and cocoa. The Fest provided a relaxed setting for students to meet with professors and connect on a personal level. Cici Pontiflet, a UNF alumni and current employee of the National Park Service, discussed career opportunities and ways to get connected with Northeast Florida's environmental community. Students also enjoyed zip lining over Lake Oneida courtesy of Eco Adventure. View photos from the event on the Environmental Center Facebook page.
A similar event will be taking place in the upcoming spring semester, so stay tuned for updates.


Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Adventure

Your UNF Outdoor Nation Ambassador has been busy planning activities for the spring semester and has a great kickoff trip! A select group of students will visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta in recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After visiting the site, the students will head to Gatlinburg, where they will enjoy hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and skiing at Ober Gatlinburg. 


Service and Camping at a National Park

Mark your calendars for two days of service, camping and kayaking on March 3 and 4. This unique weekend will consist of a day of service at Kingsley Plantation, located within the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, and a night of camping on Big Talbot Island. Student volunteers will help build a kayak rack and help maintain the native plant garden at the park. For their efforts, volunteers will receive free lunch and a free night of camping. 


This event will be discussed at the Jan. 24 Environmental Center Student Coalition meeting.

For more information, contact Project Leader Nikki Adams.

Community Corner

Creek Creative: Repurposing Waste 

Sponsors: Rising Tides of St. Johns Riverkeeper 

When: Thursday, Dec. 15, from 6-9 p.m.

Where: Mixon Studios

Cost: Free


After four years of finding unique items during the monthly McCoys Creek Cleanup, group leaders from Rising Tides are now looking to "repurpose" some of the waste, and they want you to help! They've invited the public to see what has been collected and hopefully inspire a creative response. Rising Tides plans to showcase some of the most unique creative projects in the sculpture garden at Mixon Studios next year during a "repurposed" outdoor event. For details about this event, check out their Facebook event page.


McCoys Creek Cleanup 

Sponsors: Rising Tides of St. Johns Riverkeeper

When: Sunday, Dec. 18, from 10 a.m. to noon

Where: The Haskell Building

Cost: Free


For the "year-end special," Rising Tides will be cleaning up where McCoys Creek meets the St. Johns River along the Northbank Riverwalk. This cleanup is open to everyone, so come out and enjoy the sunshine and breeze off of the riverfront. Please bring water, hats, sunglasses, heavy-duty gloves and boots or closed toe shoes. Visit their website for more information.


Timucuan Science and History Symposium 

Sponsors: Timucuan Parks Foundation

When: Friday, Jan. 27

Where: Ribault Club

Cost: Students, $10; Early Bird Registration, $25


Connect with and create the next generation of park scientists, historians and researchers at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve Science and History Symposium. It will be a place to connect with natural and cultural researchers, community residents and National Park Service personnel. The Symposium will be an amazing opportunity to share, listen and connect. For more details and registration, please visit their website.

Learn about more upcoming events.
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