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Institute of Environmental Research and Education

Sawmill Slough Preserve Projects

The Institute of Environmental Research and Education (IERE) has made it a priority to connect faculty and students to the Sawmill Slough Preserve (SSP). The expansive natural area is a tremendous asset to the University and serves as a living laboratory for research and education. IERE supports multiple ongoing research and creative projects that document the biological diversity and history of the SSP. The Preserve Digital Archive was developed to archive the results of the research and serve as a scientific, cultural and historical archive for the SSP.

Students interested in assisting with research in the SSP should contact the IERE.

Research and Creative Projects

insect on a leaf

Campus Natural Assets Inventory

The SSP contains at least eight distinct natural communities that support an abundant diversity of flora and fauna. The goal of the Campus Natural Assets Inventory is to document the diversity found within the SSP. The results of the inventory are curated in an open digital collection available for research and teaching.

Bobcat near drain

Wildlife Monitoring

As a component of the CNAI, researchers deployed wildlife cameras in the Sawmill Slough Preserve to document usage of the wildlife crossings located on the UNF campus and add any inconspicuous fauna to the inventory. These cameras have documented many species, including white-tailed deer, raccoon, armadillos and even the occasional bobcat! This documentation of wildlife shows not only the importance of connecting adjacent natural areas but also, the significance of the UNF Sawmill Slough Preserve as conservation land.

People shaking hands

Historical Research and Interpretation

In addition to a rich biodiversity, the SSP has a meaningful place in the history and culture of UNF. The SSP has been a hub of student activity since the University’s founding in 1972. The very first club at UNF was the Sawmill Slough Conservation Club and still today students use the SSP for recreation, relaxation and to reconnect with nature. Students and faculty have been compiling historical documents, photos and interviews related to the SSP. The artifacts are cataloged and archived with help of the Thomas Library G. Carpenter Library. Learn more about the history of the Sawmill Slough Preserve.  
Painting of bird

Pre[serve] Art Exhibition

The Pre[serve] Art Exhibition is a student and alumni juried exhibition featuring works inspired by SSP, a 382-acre nature preserve located on the UNF campus. The SSP has been a focal point of campus life since the university's founding, and students have played an integral role in its preservation. This art show continues that tradition encouraging artists to venture into the SSP to find inspiration. The works are displayed in an on-campus exhibition as a way to highlight the importance of conservation. In addition to the exhibition, there are a series of workshops that are meant to educate students about artistic techniques and the native flora and fauna found in the SSP. View the past exhibitions from Pre[serve].

Artwork credit: Meredith Sullivan, 2019

Nature trail

Digital Trail Interpretation

The Digital Trail experience gives virtual hiking tour of the Robert W. Loftin Nature Trails. The series of Story Maps provides more information on habitats, representative flora and fauna, and management practices. View the nature trails Story Maps.