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Environmental Education School Programs

The Eco-Education Programs at the University of North Florida provide school children with the unique opportunity of learning more about wildlife and nature while outdoors. All of our eco-education programs are ranger guided and begin with an introduction to the University of North Florida and the UNF Wildlife Sanctuary. The concept of wildlife is discussed and relevant safety points are extensively described. 


Our education programs are designed for K-8 grade. We strive to bring youth and the community into nature, hosting our programs in the 382 acre Sawmill Slough Preserve on campus. Along our five mile trail system we teach participants about the local plants, animals and habitats that make up the preserve.

Programs Currently Offered  

Colors and Shapes

Grades: Pre-K, K, 1

This program includes a short hike, on the hike children will use a picture checklist to identify common natural occurrences in the UNF Wildlife Sanctuary. Students learn about plants native to northeast Florida and discover how animals may use these plants. Students also receive specimens of plants to use in counting, feeling and smelling.


A Home for Ozzie

Grades: K-2

We wrote a children’s book based on the Preserve’s animals and their habitats! We read a story about Ozzie the Osprey, the mascot of UNF and a bird of prey species that only eats fish. Students then hike the trails to all the places in the story. Emphasis is placed on habitats and where different species live- including raccoons, wood ducks, bobcats, gopher tortoises and golden mice. Participants will get to see the actual homes of these species along the hiking trails, and answer questions about their observations on a worksheet.

Insects and Others

Grades: 1, 2, 3 

This program starts out with a fun and informational hike, during which students view several insect habitats. After the hike, they visit an outdoor lab with six hands-on stations. These activities illustrate the basics of insect ecology, anatomy and behavior.

Wild Neighborhoods 

Grades: 2, 3, 4, 5.

Students will go on a hike visiting different habitats in the UNF Wildlife Sanctuary while comparing wildlife habitats to human neighborhoods. Habitats include a lake, a seepage slope, a thicket, a cypress swamp and a sand hill. 

Nature’s Narratives 

Grades: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Nature’s Narratives encompasses the concept of a narrative, emphasizing that there are numerous narratives in nature. This program allows students to go on an adventure to find the Nature’s Narrator and learn about different types of narratives. Finally, students create and present their own narratives!

Backyard Botany 

Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6

This hike explores the different properties of plants and garden ecosystems. Students will interactively learn about the parts of plants and flowers, as well as photosynthesis. Finally, they will explore local plants and trees with fun hands-on activities.

Nature’s Detectives 

Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Nature’s Detectives introduces students to animal tracking. This hands-on detective program uses the scientific method to discover the art of tracking. Students go on a short hike to learn about animal behavior. Students then visit the tracking sand boxes to see animal tracks where they will work in small groups, culminating in group presentations. 



For more information or to schedule a program please e-mail us at

All groups must book and reserve a program and complete a contract prior to program date.