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Environmental Center Newsletter – Fall 2019

Environmental Center Welcomes New Director

After serving as director for the past five years, Dr. J. David Lambert will be stepping down to pursue other opportunities within the Coggin College of Business. During his time as director, Dr. Lambert was able to successfully launch the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) and secure a staff position to oversee the program. Also during his tenure, Dr. Lambert was able to attract new donors to support the ELP and provide critical funding to support environmental research conducted by UNF faculty. While Dr. Lambert will no longer be the director, his involvement with the Environmental Center will continue.

Dr. Erin Largo-Wight headshotWhile an internal search will be conducted to identify the next director, Dr. Erin Largo-Wight will be assuming the interim director role for the 2019-20 academic year. Dr. Largo-Wight is a professor in the Department of Public Health and is a long-standing board member for the Environmental Center. Her research focuses on health by design, and more specifically, the impact of nature contact on stress, health, and well-being in the workplace, K-12 schools, clinical settings, and the home.

We wish Dr. Lambert the best of luck in his future endeavors and are excited to welcome Dr. Largo-Wight to help shape the Environmental Center’s future.

Jacksonville Environmental Symposium

Event Partner: Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board
When: Friday, Sept. 13, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Adam W. Herbert University Center
Cost: $25-50

Registration is now open for the 2019 Jacksonville Environmental Symposium!

Presenter speaking at symposiumThe Jacksonville Environmental Symposium presents a unique opportunity for members of the community to interact with the regulatory agencies responsible for developing and implementing environmental policy. The symposium theme for 2019 is "Building Resiliency - Inspiring, Informing & Engaging our Community.”

The symposium features the release of the State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin and multiple breakout sessions on various topics impacting Northeast Florida. The symposium also includes two keynote speakers. In the morning Jim Murley, chief resiliency officer for Miami-Dade County, will share some of the unique challenges of leading resiliency efforts for a large coastal community. During lunch, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein will share insights on his agency's efforts to ensure resiliency across the state.

Register for the symposium by visiting the Environmental Protection Board website.

The Green Jax Project

The Green Jax Project logoToday is the official release of the Environmental Center’s newest blog, The Green Jax Project. This project and accompanying blog will provide educational resources for topics related to environmental health and guides to help inspire life-style changes that benefit people and the planet. Throughout the site you’ll discover hidden issues in popular industries, such as fashion and hygiene, and learn how to do things like compost or make your own deodorant.

The blog was created by Alane Ertel as her Master of Public Health capstone project. The goal of the blog is to inform others on current issues regarding environmental health, as well as, provide resources and guides to help reduce the carbon footprint of individuals, and to remind individuals of the power we, as consumers, have over industry.

The Green Jax Project is an ongoing collaboration between the UNF Environmental Center and students from the Department of Health. Student interns will continue to research and write about current issues and provide practical advice to anyone seeking to make lifestyle changes.

New blog posts come out the first Monday of every month! Be sure to check out the blog and like our Facebook Page to get notices about the latest posts.

Food Fighters - Volunteers Needed

Food Fighters VolunteersFood Fighters is looking for volunteers to assist with recovering unused food from campus! Shifts are available every Tuesday and Friday as follows: 

Tuesdays :
Recovery Shift: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Delivery Shift: noon to 2:30 p.m. 

Fridays :
Recovery Shift: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Delivery Shift: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

Food Fighters is a student led program that promotes food justice by reducing food waste on campus and addressing food insecurity in Northeast Florida. Volunteers collect food from the Osprey Café, campus convenience stores and special events, then create nutritious meals to be served through community partners such as the Northeast Florida AIDS Network and Sulzbacher Center. 

Be sure to join the Food Fighters' Facebook group to receive updates on volunteering!

Graduate and Alumni Highlights

ELP graduates Kaley Crawford and Thoren PeregoAlumni and recent graduates from the Environmental Leadership Program are rocking it! Many of the graduates have obtained jobs working in the environmental field, while others have decided to continue their education by attending graduate school. In the photo are graduates Kaley Crawford and Thoren Perego. 


Read more about the accomplishments of ELP alumni and graduates below: 

Molly O’Brien was selected for the UNF Senior Service Award for the Summer 2019 graduating class. This distinguished recognition is awarded to a graduating senior who has made significant contributions to the University and/or the community through volunteerism while maintaining an outstanding academic record. O’Brien received a commemorative plaque, a check for $300, and an engraved paver located in the Student Union Plaza. She was seated on stage and recognized at the commencement ceremony.

O’Brien also received the Spring 2019 Osprey Community Engagement Medallion, which recognizes students who demonstrate exemplary commitment to the greater Jacksonville Community through activities such as volunteerism and community or social advocacy.

Kaley Crawford was a recipient of the Spring 2019 Osprey Community Engagement Medallion which recognized her for among many other accomplishments, her ELP projects, “Beyond the Trail: A Walk Through History” and the “Preservation Project Jacksonville: The Untold Story.”

Crawford is currently living her passion as a National Park Service Ranger and is employed as a seasonal ranger at the Blue Ridge Parkway. She wore her park ranger dress uniform and the iconic ranger hat at the commencement ceremony.

Thoren Perego, a political science major, was selected to join the Joe Biden campaign in Iowa as a field director. Perego already brought field experience while working on local campaigns in Daytona Beach. His ELP project was creating a citizen’s handbook on how to advocate for the North Florida Land Trust (NFLT). His handbook will be available both as an e-book on NFLT’s website and limited number of printed copies will be available in the near future. Perego is also a Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2019 “NextGen” graduate.

Caleb Johnston was hired as a science teacher at Mandarin Middle School and will begin his new career this school year. He plans to attend UNF graduate school Counselor Education program beginning Spring 2020. Johnston attributed his ELP experience and project, “Parks 360: Bridging the Gap Between Students and Parks” as being one of the main reasons for being hired at Mandarin Middle School.

Alice Sanchez, who was the project leader for Food Fighters: Student-Powered Hunger Relief, will be attending UNF’s graduate program to continue her passion for nutrition and dietetics and will also assume a new role of graduate assistant. Sanchez was instrumental in growing and structuring the food fighters project by implementing training sessions, writing a training and food safety manual, and training and coordinating shift leaders and volunteers. She also expanded the community outreach of the project by partnering with organizations such as Lutheran Social Services and the Sulzbacher Center.

Sean Lahav finished the ELP as an undergraduate in 2017, and just completed his Master’s in Public Administration from UNF this spring. Lahav was the first UNF student to receive the Osprey Community Engagement Award twice – the first award was as an ELP project leader in 2017 and again in Spring 2019 as a master’s student. During graduate school, Lahav worked with the Florida Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to complete the LEED for Cities certification for the City of Atlantic Beach, and was recognized as “Green Student of the Year” by the USGBC.

Student Spotlight: Alice Sanchez

Alice Sanchez headshotWhere are you from? Venice, FL 

What is your major, and why did you choose it? Nutrition and Dietetics. I chose this major so I can play a role in increasing access to healthy foods for people who are food insecure.

What is job title and what do you do at the Environmental Center? I am a Project Leader in the Environmental Leadership Program. My project is Food Fighters: Student-Powered Hunger Relief. In this university-based food recovery program, student volunteers collect unused, prepared foods and create well-balanced meals for community organizations. My job is to act as the volunteer coordinator and assist with program and event development while I apply the leadership skills I gain from the Environmental Leadership Program.

What is the environmental issue you are most interested in? I am most interested in food recovery programs that specifically help reduce food waste. Food waste is an issue in our country and I’ve found that food recovery programs have proven to be viable solutions to this problem.

What makes you passionate about the environment? I like working with other professionals to find creative solutions that address environmental issues. There are so many things we can accomplish when we come together to tackle these environmental issues, and I enjoy that collaboration.

What are your hobbies? What clubs and volunteer activities are you involved in? I enjoy reading, going to the beach, gardening, and going to the park with my dog. I volunteer regularly at the Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry food pantry. I have also assisted the UNF Wellness Dietitians with special events and the Winston Family YMCA dietitian with cooking demos.

What are your plans after graduation? I am about to start graduate school and plan to complete a thesis on the benefits and sustainability of the Food Fighters food recovery program. I will also be completing a dietetic internship and anticipate becoming a registered, licensed dietitian nutritionist.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Adam Rosenblatt

Dr. Adam Rosenblatt headshotDepartment and title: Department of Biology, Assistant Professor

Where did you attend graduate school? Florida International University

When did you start working at UNF? Fall 2017

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on understanding the effects of climate change and urbanization on food webs and ecosystems. Currently I mainly work with alligators, sea turtles and grasshoppers.

How are you involved with the Environmental Center? I am a recipient of one of the Environmental Center's Seed Grants. The grant has allowed me and my graduate student Eli Beal to pursue a year-long study of where alligators like to live in Jacksonville, a highly urbanized environment with a lot of different kinds of habitats to choose from.

Where is your favorite activity to enjoy nature? When it comes to immersing myself in nature, it's hard to beat SCUBA diving. I don't get a chance to do it as often as I would like, so instead I usually enjoy myself most at the beach or in the UNF Sawmill Slough Preserve.

Tips and Trips

Tips and Trips Banner

Trip – Jacksonville Parks

 Are you new to Jacksonville and looking for some outdoor adventure? Well, you are in luck because Jacksonville is home to the largest urban park system in the country! There are also numerous state parks located within a short drive and even a national park full of history and great hiking.

The best way to learn about the parks in Jacksonville is by visiting the Timucan Parks Foundation (TPF) website. TPF is the ‘friends group’ that supports 23 preservation parks located in the greater Jacksonville area. You can help the parks by volunteering at one of TPF's many events!

Tip – Kick Plastic to the Curb

Reducing your waste and plastic dependence can be a seemingly daunting task and it can seem like everything you need to reduce your plastic use costs way more money than you are willing to spend. Do not fret! For making environmentally conscious changes in your life can be inexpensive and often, free!

One of the best ways to start reducing your waste is by making your own things and repurposing items in your home. Some simple things to repurpose or DIY includes:

If you enjoyed these tips, check out the Environmental Center's new blog The Green Jax Project for more tips!