May 13, 2020
UNF’s Sawmill Slough Preserve, with miles of nature trails to hike, native birds and animals to watch and a beautiful lake to paddle out on, is a natural oasis in the heart of Jacksonville.
While families are staying safe at home, kids can enjoy a little magic of the almost 400-acre nature preserve with the "A Home for Ozzie" book. The educational book features plants and animals that are native to Northeast Florida and ones that you can find at UNF’s Preserve.
“One of the best parts of my job is doing outreach with local kids,” said Amy Costa, co-author and UNF ECO Adventure assistant director, who uses the book as part of her curriculum for youth camps and environmental education programs. “I love being able to teach them about this beautiful natural habitat and how to protect our environment for their future.”
The 30-page book was illustrated by hand with watercolor by the late Vernon Payne, former UNF graphic artist, and co-authored by Costa and Jake FitzRoy, coordinator of Environmental Education Programs at the University.
"A Home for Ozzie" is about an osprey, named Ozzie, who can't find a home and explores the campus' lake, forest, swamp and sandhill looking for different places to live with other animals. Eventually, Ozzie learns he must build his own home and gets help from a friend. There are six different characters that live in six different habitats on campus: Red-bellied turtle at freshwater lake, Mr. Wood Duck in bottomland swamp, Becky the Bobcat who lives in the mesic flatwoods, Gus the Gopher Tortoise in sandhill and Golden Mouse in the thicket.
"A Home for Ozzie" sells for $19.95 by clicking the "Purchase Now" link at the bottom of the webpage and all proceeds are used to maintain the Sawmill Slough Preserve. Watch the ”River City Live” video of Costa and FritzRoy sharing the book.
Once this pandemic has passed, families can visit the trails together to see where Ozzie the osprey and his animal friends live and experience the nature they read about in the book. We ask that everyone please practice social distancing, don’t leave anything behind and stay safe!