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January 2017

Student Spotlight: Tiffany Torres

Tiffany TorresWhere are you from? I was born in Brooklyn, New York. I moved to Jacksonville when I was 7.


What is your major? My major is graphic design. I have always been very interested in the arts and working with software like Photoshop and Illustrator.


What are your plans after you graduate? I plan to work as a graphic designer for a company specializing in web design and illustration.

What is your favorite spot on campus? My favorite spot on campus is the Bamboo Garden near Peace Plaza. I love the peaceful scenery and the shade is perfect on a sunny day. 


How did you get involved with the Environmental Center? I transferred from St. Johns River State College to the University of North Florida. After arriving, I looked into job opportunities at UNF and came across the Environmental Center. Aside from graphic design, I am also very passionate about the environment, so it was a perfect fit! 


What is your job title and what do you do at the Environmental Center? I am the graphic designer for the Environmental Center. I create posters and other graphics for events throughout the year. 


What are your hobbies? I love to listen to music and practice digital painting through Adobe Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint. I am currently vice president of CMND+N, a graphic design club open to all majors who are interested in learning more about new media design. 


What makes you passionate about the environment? I am passionate about the environment because of the wildlife that depend on a healthy environment. Many animals are becoming endangered species, and it is important for us to prevent harm to the environment we all depend on. 


Who is your hero and why? Hayao Miyazaki is my hero. He is a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter, animator and manga artist. Many of his films contain themes on environmental issues like pollution and the importance of humans preserving the earth from harmful activities.

Now Accepting Applications for the ELP

Attention all students! Do you have a passion for the environment? Would you like to get engaged with community partners and leaders? If so, we are now accepting applications for project leaders in the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP). The deadline to submit an application is Monday, Feb. 13. Click here to download the application


The ELP is focused on identifying students who are passionate about the environment, who want to implement a community project that creates long-term solutions to environmental issues, and who want to develop their leadership skills. Through the ELP, student project leaders gain "real-world, hands-on" experience through working with community partners and leaders, UNF faculty and the ELP project coordinator, in creating and implementing their project.  


ELP Collage

If you have any questions, please contact ELP Coordinator Maria Mark.

ELP Update - Recent Honoree and Board Appointment

Renee Hutchins was the recipient of UNF's Osprey Community Engagement Medallion. The Center for Community-Based Learning recognizes graduating students each semester who greatly excel in engagement and service to their community. Students awarded the Osprey Community Engagement Medallion demonstrate excellence and exhibit personal development, intellectual growth and positive community impact resulting from their community engagement experiences.    


Renee's leadership project, Beyond the Trail: Park Discover Series, was a great example that incorporated all the components required to be a medallion recipient. We are very proud to have one of project leaders recognized with the other outstanding recipients. Congrats, Renee! 


Osprey Community Engagement Medallion receipents

Project Leader Renne Hutchins is the second from the right


Kevin O'Halloran was recently selected to join the Northeast Florida Regional U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) board as the emerging professionals representative. The intent is to recruit young professionals who are interested in sustainable communities and green building practices. Kevin has also joined the Springfield Preservation and Revitalization (SPAR) staff as their outreach coordinator. He overseas events in historic Springfield, grant writing and community outreach. Keep up the great work, Kevin! 

Learn more about our project leaders.

2017 Seed Grant Recipients

Seed Grants graphicThe Environmental Center is excited to announce the recipients of the 2017 Seed Grants. As recipients, faculty are awarded grants of 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 research.


Spartina alterniflora Floating Nurseries: Growing Plants to Reduce Pond Nutrient Loading and Enhance Coastal Shoreline Restoration


Dr. Kelly Smith, Department of Biology

Kenneth Rainer, Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve

Nicole Llinas, Biology Undergraduate Research Assistant


Retention ponds are ubiquitous in the Southeast and play a key role in allowing stormwater to re-enter the groundwater supply; however, these ponds are sources of nutrients that can lead to nuisance algae blooms in recipient waterways. We propose using floating mats planted with Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) to achieve two goals: 1) Reduce nutrient levels in retention ponds through uptake by plant roots and 2) harvest mature and healthy plants for control of sediment erosion and as habitat for coastal organisms. Read full abstract


Correlating Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Strandings to Cyanobacterial and Cyanotoxin Exposure in the St. Johns River, Jacksonville


Dr. Quincy Gibson, Department of Biology

Amber Brown, Biology Graduate Research Assistant


Recent necropsy reports have documented a large number of unexplained deaths among bottlenose dolphins in the St. Johns River, Jacksonville. Moreover, a number of these deaths occurred in low salinity areas of the river that are strong deviations from the residential population's known home range. These findings indicate that dolphins are traveling farther upstream into the freshwater, suggesting possible exposure to native toxin producing cyanobacterial blooms. Read full abstract

Learn more about Environmental Center Seed Grants.

Hunger Dinner and Food Recovery Program

Partners: Environmental Center, UNF Health Promotion, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and Chartwells

When: Monday, Jan. 30, from 7-9 p.m.

Where: UNF Student Ballrooms

Cost: Free, but please bring a nonperishable food donation of canned vegetables and beans

Food insecurity and undernourishment is a real problem affecting more than 790 million people worldwide (The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). This is not just an international problem. A 2014 report by Feeding Northeast Florida and Feeding America showed that an estimated 322,300 people in Northeast Florida had to rely on food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families. 


In an effort to address food insecurity, Project Leader Courtney Hogan recently launched a campus club focused on making a difference locally. The new club called "Food Fighters: Student-Powered Hunger Relief," will focus on educating UNF students about food insecurity and food waste, while also striving to make a positive impact in Northeast Florida.  


On Monday, Jan. 30, the club will be hosting a Hunger Dinner to launch a food recovery program, where student volunteers will collect unused food from dining facilities on campus and then serve that food to the community through organizations such as Northeast Florida AIDS Network. At the Hunger Dinner, attendees will discuss the extent of hunger in our world, and even within our very own Jacksonville community, while sharing a meal. Admission is free; however, we request that you bring a nonperishable food donation of canned vegetables and beans to help supplement the meals that will be served through the food recovery program. We hope to see you there!

Learn more about Food Fighters by visiting their Facebook page.

Student Coalition Update

Student Coalition Smoky Mountains group photoThe Environmental Center 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 coalition provides like-minded students with the opportunity to contribute to campus sustainability and gain leadership experience.


If you are interested in participating in the Environmental Center Student Coalition, join us for 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

Keep up to date by joining their Facebook group!

Outdoor Nation Update and Upcoming Events

Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Adventure

Holiday weekend, Jan. 14-16


The UNF Outdoor Nation Ambassador has organized an amazing trip for 16 UNF students over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The students will visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, then head north to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Over the weekend students will enjoy hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and skiing and snow tubing at Ober Gatlinburg. 


Preserve Adventure Fest

Thursday, Feb. 9


Come "fall in love with nature" in the Sawmill Slough Preserve during the second Preserve Adventure Fest. Relax with fellow Ospreys in the Preserve while enjoying hot cocoa, an outdoor movie and zip lining over Lake Oneida courtesy of Eco Adventure. More information to come soon! 


National Park Service Day at Kingsley Plantation

Friday and Saturday, March 3-4


Mark your calendars for this unique National Park experience at Kingsley Plantation, which includes a day of service, camping on Big Talbot Island and paddling through the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. There will be multiple service projects at Kingsley Plantation, including building a kayak rack and tending to the park's native plant garden. Volunteers will be given a free meal and a free night of camping. This opportunity will be limited to a small number of students, and registration will be made available soon. 


Earth Day Celebration 

The last event of the semester will take place in April in celebration of Earth Day. More details will be announced in the next Outdoor Nation update, so stay tuned!

For more information, contact Project Leader Nikki Adams.

Community Corner

The Climate is Changing. Are You? A Panel Discussion on Climate Change

Sponsors: Jax Makerspace

When: Saturday, Jan. 14, from 3-5:30 p.m.

Where: Jacksonville Public Library Main Branch

Cost: Free


Want ways to address climate change in your community? Wondering how global warming has already begun to affect the First Coast region? Frustrated with living in a state and country whose leadership denies this urgent issue? Come be a part of this empowering discussion with panelists from the UNF Environmental Center, UNF Department of Political Science, National Park Service and St. Johns Riverkeeper. Read more.


Screening of "Racing Extinction"

Sponsors: USGBC North Florida and UNF Environmental Center

When: Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m.

Where: Jacksonville Museum of Science and History (MOSH)

Cost: $10 adults, $7 students


Join USGBC North Florida for another installment of the Green Carpet Film Series. In "Racing Extinction," a team of artists and activists expose the the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the planet. Read more. 


Hop Into Frog Monitoring

Sponsors: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and Northeast Florida FrogWatch USA Chapter

When: Saturday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Education Campus Auditorium

Cost: Free

Want to learn more about monitoring our local frog and toad populations? Want to learn how you can contribute to their conservation through citizen science? Attend this free training to get involved. Light lunch will be provided. You must RSVP to volunteer@jacksonvillezoo.org


Timucuan Science and History Symposium

Sponsors: National Park Service and Timucuan Parks Foundation

When: Friday, Jan. 27

Where: Ribault Club 

Cost: $10 students, $25 early bird registration


Connect with and create the next generation of park scientists, historians and researchers at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve Science 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. 


Crosby Saturday Bird Walk and Work Day 


Sponsor: Duval Audubon Society

When: Saturday, Jan. 28, from 8 a.m. to noon

Where: Crosby Sanctuary

Cost: Free


Every fourth Saturday the Duval Audubon Society meets at Crosby Sanctuary for birding and work projects in the sanctuary. Please bring work gloves and wear closed-toe shoes. If possible, also please bring loppers, scissor style hedge clippers and other trail maintenance-type tools you may have available. Read more


Hanna Park Bird Walk

SponsorDuval Audubon Society

When: Sunday, Jan. 29, at 8 a.m.

Where: Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Cost: Free


Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a city park that consists of a 1.5-mile public beach and 447 acres of mature coastal hammock, which is increasingly rare to find along Florida's heavily developed coast. Visitors can catch a glimpse of a variety of birds. Read more.

Learn about more upcoming events.
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