This year, student project leader Katie Vearil took over the fourth series of “Beyond the Trail.” After participating in the St. Johns River Experience at UNF, she was inspired to educate others on the historical, scientific, and economic significance of the river. This inspiration led her to create “Beyond the Trail: A River Runs Through It.”
The first event of the 2018-2019 series took place in September at the Theodore Roosevelt Area. Many participants had not visited this park before the event. Park Ranger Craig Morris and Dr. Keith Ashley, a UNF professor were the featured speakers.
Dr. Ashley educated participants about the Timucuans who first settled in the area. The Timucuans created large middens. These served as a “landfill” site for leftover oyster shells and animal bones. The middens have been preserved in the park and are still visible today.
Park Ranger Morris pointed out the native plants and animals that inhabit the park. Participants saw cinnamon fern, blue tailed skinks, box turtles and more. He also explained the park’s history. The land was donated to the Nature Conservancy by Willie Henry Browne III. Willie lived his entire life in a small cabin on the land. The ruins of this cabin can still be seen in the park.
The rest of the 2018-2019 Beyond the Trail will feature a paddle on the St. Johns River, speakers from Groundwork Jacksonville, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and much more!
I joined the Environmental Leadership Program to aid in my growth both professionally and personally. The program allows for a community of like-minded students to help one another gain valuable skills and achieve their goals. Through the program I hope to gain the skills needed to become a strong leader and advocate for the environment while making a positive impact in our community.