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Recreation and Wellness

The John M. Golden Education Pavilion

On April 11, 2008, the University of North Florida dedicated the 1,000-square-foot Environmental Education Pavilion to John M. Golden, UNF's first Chief Eco Adventure Ranger and Environmental Educator for almost 20 years. The education pavilion functions as the headquarters for environmental education programs, Eco Camp, and many other University events.

The octagonal shaped pavilion is rustic and constructed from rough wood timbers. Nestled among the green tree canopy on the shoreline of Lake Oneida, the many windows in the pavilion showcase the beauty of the UNF nature Preserve. A wrap-around porch is adorned with rocking chairs and benches. While the pavilion lacks air conditioning, the many windows allow for plenty of air circulation, making the temperature pleasant, even during summer. The pavilion is equipped for internet access via Wi-Fi connections and is set up in a comfortable rustic lodge style. It easily seats 40 people and has a maximum capacity of 70.

Pavilion Rentals

For more information or to reserve the Pavilion, email us at

General Rental

The facility is available for use by UNF organizations and departments and the general public.

Renting Group 1-4 Hours Daily (4+ Hours)
UNF group (general events) $0 + staff time $0 + staff time
UNF group (for-profit fundraising event) $50.00 + staff time $100.00 + staff time
Non-UNF non-profit community group $75.00 + staff time $150.00 + staff time
General public $150.00 + staff time $250.00 + staff time


  • Users are welcome to bring their own food and refreshments or use UNF's preferred vendor, Mayes Catering Services (904) 249-8437.
  • Alcohol is not permitted
  • Users will be billed for all staff time and additional rental fee if the event exceeds the contract time limits.

Birthday Parties

Give your child a unique and unforgettable Osprey Party! Let us host your child's birthday party. 

In this party package a Ranger will open the Pavilion and give a brief introduction to the Sawmill Slough Preserve, including relevant safety points. Parents and children are then welcome to use the Pavilion and nature Preserve for activities of their choosing.

Our party package is 3 hours and is staffed by 1 Ranger. Price: $150 which includes a $25 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of booking.

Parties are offered Thursday - Saturday, excluding dates when the University is closed. Thursdays and Fridays parties are offered in the afternoon. On Saturdays parties are offered in the morning and afternoon. Party reservations must be made at least 2 weeks in advance.

Groups 20+ require an additional Ranger and will be charged at their hourly rate.

Additional activities can be added on the Osprey Party Package for an additional cost. Activities on the lake include one lifeguard. Games are created by Environmental Education Rangers and will be primarily wildlife focused and age appropriate.

Additional Activities
Green Activity Blue Activity Yellow Activity Purple Activity
Ranger led hike or game: additional $30 Canoeing: additional $60 Ranger led hike & game: additional 60 Ranger led hike or game & canoeing: additional $100


  • Who provides the food, drink, and cake?
    You provide the food, drinks and cake of your choosing.
  • How can I learn more about the games that will be played?
    A trained Ranger will pick a game suitable for the age of the group. The game will likely be wildlife focused and will allow the kids to learn about local flora and fauna while they play in the Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Where does canoeing take place?
    In the nature Preserve of Lake Oneida, a freshwater lake. A UNF lifeguard, as well as the working Ranger, will be leading the canoeing activity.
  • How and when do we pay?
    You can pay by check or credit card (3% fee applied to credit card purchases). You will be charged a $25 non-refundable deposit when you book in order to reserve your party, which will be deducted from the party package price. You will also pay the amount when you book your program.
  • What is the cancellation policy?
    If you have to cancel your party you must notify us at least 48 hours prior to your party to avoid getting charged the entire amount. If you cancel more than 48 hours prior to the party you will get a refund, with the exception of the $25 non-refundable deposit.
  • When should I arrive? Should I decorate?
    The working Ranger will open the pavilion at your party start time. You are welcome to begin the festivities then. Keep in mind that the pavilion is already decorated with various wildlife visuals, and the pavilion is surrounded by the beautiful Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • What should I wear?
    You should wear clothes that you can move freely around in, and clothes that they can get dirty. If canoeing, wear a bathing suit underneath your clothes and remember to bring a towel.
  • What about sunscreen and bug spray?
    We always recommend that you sunscreen and bug spray, either before you arrive or when you arrive.
  • Are the Rangers CPR and First-Aid trained?
    Yes, all of our rangers are trained in CPR and first aid.
  • What happens if it rains?
    If you have a party with any of the additions, the working Ranger will make a cancellation decision the morning of the party, as all of the additions include outside activities. If you choose the Osprey package without additions your party may continue as normal through rain, as the pavilion is covered. In this case it is up to you whether or not you choose to have your party. Importantly, the cancellation decision must be made by 1 PM the day of the party. If you cancel after 1 PM the day of the party you will be charged $50.