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Students touring solar roof

Environmental Leadership Program

The Community-Identified Need

The Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) was created in response to a question posed among our community partners: "Where is our next generation of environmental leaders?" To address this question, the ELP was designed to specifically:

  • Identify undergraduate students who are passionate about the environment and want to cultivate a more just and sustainable community.
  • Provide students "real-world" experiences through collaborating and partnering with community organizations and professionals, from the "creation-to-implementation" of their projects.
  • Create pathways for the students to ensure they succeed academically, professionally and personally.

The Student "Project Leader" Experience

Our program focuses on recruiting 1st year students so they can become fully immersed in the ELP throughout their college tenure, unlike an internship that generally occurs within a semester. By engaging project leaders early, it gives them time to create, develop and implement community projects that address environmental or social justice issues. Also, the "real-world" experiences will develop strong professional relationships between the community and the project leaders.


Project leaders develop skills such as:

  • Time management
  • Budgeting
  • Grant writing
  • Organizing events/volunteers
  • Team building

Upon completion of the ELP, project leaders will have a project portfolio to showcase their community project and achievements.

Professional Leadership Development

The ELP provides leadership development with emphasis in areas of emotional intelligence and servant-leadership skills.

  • Workshops and in-house training facilitated by professional leaders.
  • Memberships in related organizations.
  • Participate in the annual three-day, two night, fall retreat.
  • Present at the spring symposium.


Offer a robust, multi-disciplinary, community-based immersion program that will:

  • Create the next generation of environmental leaders who are passionate about cultivating a more just and sustainable environment.
  • Enhance students' undergraduate experience by providing an abundance of tools and pathways to succeed academically, professionally and personally.
  • Incorporate guiding principles of the "servant-leadership" philosophy, including vision, values and virtues.


Increasing pressure on our environment and our natural resources demands we have leaders who:

  • Focus on the preservation, protection and sustainability of those resources.
  • Make wise choices, both politically and philosophically.
  • Ensure a thriving environment for now and future generations.


  • Build a firm understanding of environmental issues among ELP undergraduate students by connecting them with community partners and leaders (public/private sectors). The project leaders will work collaboratively on community-embedded projects focused on these identified environmental challenges.
  • Provide "real-world" experiences for the project leaders by working with community professionals in creating, developing and implementing solutions to identified environmental challenges.
  • Create "teams" comprised of a project leader, a UNF faculty member and a community partner(s). Augment the teams with other students by offering volunteer opportunities.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for the project leaders.
  • Create career pathways through exposure to external networks.
  • Complete a personalized portfolio validating the experiences and measurables of the project.

Program Funding Sources

In 2015, we launched the pilot program through the generous donation of The Cummer Family Foundation. The early successes of the pilot determined to fully launch the ELP in 2016. The Cummer Family Foundation support has continued, and in 2016, we established a philanthropic relationship with The Felburn Foundation, who also currently supports the ELP. To ensure the longevity of the ELP, we are continuing to expand our donor base, apply for grants, and obtain sponsors from organizations and individuals. For more information about how you can support the ELP, please contact Chaz Runfola, Director of Development - (904) 620-5895 or


We invite you to meet our project leaders and learn more about how they are applying their environmental passion and leadership skills in their community.