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Nature trail

Beyond the Trail

Beyond the Trail is a series designed to encourage participants to explore and learn about the parks in Northeast Florida. Jacksonville contains the largest urban park system in the nation. Each event highlights a different city, state or national park in the region.

Beyond the Trail: A River Runs Through It

The fourth series of Beyond the Trail will explore the iconic St. Johns River. After participating in UNF's St. Johns River Experience, Project Leader Katie Vearil was inspired to help other students learn about the significance of the river to our city. Most residents of Jacksonville drive over the river daily, but many don't know much about the St. Johns. This series of Beyond the Trail will include education on the parks and preserves that lie in the watershed, participation in community service projects, the opportunity to network with local environmental and civic leaders.


Project Partners

  • Timucuan Parks Foundation
  • Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve - National Park Service
  • Big Talbot Island State Park
  • City of Jacksonville Parks

UNF Environmental Center Beyond the trail a river runs through it logo

How to Participate

Students and community participants are invited to join the program. Each participant will receive a Beyond the Trail T-shirt. Snacks will be provided at each event.


Beyond the Trail Registration


If you are interested in participating, but have questions please contact Project Leader Katie Vearil or stop by the Environmental Center in Building 1, J.J. Daniel Hall, Room 2200.

Series Description

Both the fall and spring semesters will feature three events. Each event will have a different theme including history and culture, science and health, and economics and tourism.


Our history and cultural events will feature Drs. Keith Ashley and Charles Closmann from UNF. These events will include an interactive art project.


The science and health segments will take participants on a hike with the Native Plant Society. Participants will hear from the St. Johns Riverkeeper and the St. Johns River Water Management District.


For the economics and tourism events, participants will also learn about the economic significance of the river. Groundwork Jacksonville will discuss the upcoming plans for the Emerald Necklace.

Environmental Leadership Program

The Beyond the Trail series is a project of the Environmental Leadership Program. The Environmental Leadership Program aims to identify passionate undergraduate students and develop them into the next generation of leaders. As part of the program, students become project leaders and design and implement projects in collaboration with community mentors and Environmental Center staff and faculty. In 2015, Beyond the Trail was created by former Project Leader Renee Hutchins. She wanted to gain a better understanding of how our parks system functions. She planned a series of events that granted students access to behind the scenes operations of parks and the opportunity to network with local environmental and civic leaders. Each year a new project leader is selected to re-imagine the series with their own theme.

Past Beyond the Trail Programs

group photo from the 2015-2016 class


group photo from the 2016-2017 class


group photo from the 2017-2018 class