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Institute of Environmental Research and Education

The Institute of Environmental Research and Education (IERE) is housed in Academic and Student Affairs and serves students and faculty from all six UNF colleges. All IERE programs and scholarships are 100% funded by donors and grants. With a focus on environmental research and education, our mission is to provide opportunities for environmental research and education and develop interdisciplinary programs that enhance the student experience. Learn more about the IERE.


Spring Break Field School - Applications Now Open

Applications are now being accepted for the 2022 Spring Break Field School! The spring break field school is a unique opportunity for students to learn about Florida’s unique ecosystems and the ongoing efforts to protect and conserve our natural environment. The spring break field school will focus on the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve located on the west coast of Florida. This opportunity is open to all current UNF students and the application deadline is Sunday, Jan. 30. Learn more about the Spring Break Field School.


Pre[serve] Art Exhibition - Submission Deadline Extended

The Pre[serve] Art Exhibition is a student and alumni juried exhibition featuring works inspired by Sawmill Slough Preserve, a 382-acre nature preserve located on the UNF campus. The exhibition is open to all current students and alumni. The deadline for submissions has been extended to Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. Learn more about the Pre[serve] Art Exhibition.


Seed Grant Recipients Announced

The 2022 Seed Grant recipients have been announced! Learn more about the funded projects.

Upcoming Events

UNF-KAO General Interest Meeting

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

6-7 p.m.

Location: Building 39, Room 1026

Cost: Open to all students

Join the Kappa Alpha Omicron (KAO) Honors Society for their first general meeting of the semester. Students are invited to learn more about the organization and how to get involved.


The UNF-KAO Honors Society is open to all students who have a passion and interest in environmental, education, research and careers. The honors society is associated with the Interdisciplinary Environmental Association and supported by the Institute of Environmental Research and Education.

Community Cleanup - Northbank Riverwalk

Saturday, February 12, 2022

9 a.m.

Location: Northbank Riverwalk

Cost: Free and open to all


Join the Institute of Environmental Research and Education for a community cleanup along the Northbank Riverwalk. This cleanup is part of a NOAA Marine Debris Program grant focused on reducing single-use plastic consumption and fostering long-term pro-environmental behaviors among undergraduates in coastal communities.


Volunteers will be collecting trash and debris found in lakes at the park, lots, with a focus on single-use plastic items. Volunteers will also help sort and weight the collected items.


Important Information on Directions and Parking

Volunteers should park at the Northbank Riverwalk parking area behind the Alfred I. duPont Charitable Trust. The parking area is right next to the the Northbank Riverwalk Kayak Launch. Additional parking will be available at the Black Knight Financial Building parking lot.


COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

  • Stay home if you are sick - Monitor your health and stay home if you are feeling sick or test positive for COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often - Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and if soap and water is not available use hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes - Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. 

For more information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please visit the Florida Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Field Friday - Forestry and Fire

Friday, February 25, 2022

8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Location: Cary State Forest

Cost: $10


Join for our only Field Friday of the spring semester focused on the Florida Forest Service (FFS). The FFS's mission is to protect and manage the forest resources of Florida, ensuring that they will be available for future generations. The FFS manages more than 1 million acres of state forests for multiple public uses, including timber, recreation and wildlife habitat.



  • Jon Johnson, Senior Forester – Florida Forest Service
  • More speakers will be announced soon! 

Spring Break Field School - Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve

Saturday, March 12, 2022 - Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Apply Today

The Spring Break Field School is a unique opportunity for students to learn about Florida’s diverse ecosystems through firsthand experience. Students will also learn about efforts to protect, conserve and restore Florida’s natural environment from a wide range of professionals. 


The focus of the Spring Break Field School is the recently established Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve located on the west coast of Florida. The Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve is Florida’s first new preserve to be designated in more than 30 years and is designed to maintain water quality and biological value to ensure healthy ecosystems. The aquatic preserve includes nearly 400,000 acres of seagrass which support valuable working waterfronts industries, including fisheries, seafood production, and ecotourism.

Who is eligible to participate?
The spring break field school is open to all current UNF students. The cost to participate is $375 and includes transportation, accommodations, most meals, entrance fees and more. The deadline to apply is Sunday, January 30, however, final payments will not be due until Sunday, February 27.

What activities will be included?
The Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve is the second-largest aquatic preserve in Florida (more than 450,000 acres) and includes shoreline along three different counties. In order to fully understand the ecological diversity of the area, students will engage in a number of activities throughout the area.


Planned activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Kayaking on the Chassahowitzka River with ACA-certified instructors
  • Hiking in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area
  • Visiting the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge to learn about manatee protection
  • Exploring the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve by boat
  • Networking with scientists, historians and conservation professionals

Contact the Institute of Environmental Research and Education if you have any questions about the program, application or payments.

Florida Native Plant Society's 40th Annual Conference

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Sunday, May 22, 2022

Location: Adam W. Herbert University Center

Conference Information

The Florida Native Plant Society's annual conference includes two days of great speakers, networking and botanical field trips. This is your only chance to meet FNPS members from around the state and learn what they are doing to conserve, preserve and restore their native plant communities.


More information about the conference to be released soon!