This week, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team received a special gift from Millennia Gardens Elementary School. The Millennia Gardens Elementary Eco Club grew 1,000 heads of lettuce from their student hydroponics garden and donated the complete harvest to SeaWorld’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.
The lettuce took the Millennia Gardens Elementary Eco Club nearly a month to grow as students and teachers worked alongside each other during their afterschool program. Students ranging from third to fifth grade were able to learn important skills through the program including environmental protection, math and teamwork.
Principle Anne Lynaugh said, “We are so proud of the Millennia Gardens Elementary Eco Club. The teachers and students have put a lot of hard work into the hydroponics garden. It truly is an outdoor classroom where everyone can learn. The new partnership with SeaWorld is a wonderful and unexpected benefit that we hope will continue for years to come. It is our mission to lead our students to success with the support and involvement of families and the community.”
SeaWorld Orlando is one of the founding institutions of the Southeastern U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network (SEUS). The SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team rescue between 20 and 40 stranded marine mammals annually, with the majority being manatees. With vegetation being the primary diet for manatees, SeaWorld Orlando relies on hundreds of pounds of lettuce to feed these rescued manatees daily. Through this new partnership, SeaWorld Orlando and Millennia Gardens Elementary School will work together to positively impact both students and rescued manatees.
“This donation is a truly amazing one. These kids learned how to grow lettuce in a unique way and then went a step further and decided they wanted to help an endangered species – the Florida manatee. At SeaWorld, we are focused on rescuing, rehabilitation and releasing animals in need. It’s also important we educate our community about animals and how we can all help our natural world,” said Jon Peterson, Manager, Animal Rescue at SeaWorld Orlando, “To have these young kids come together, volunteer their time, learn how to grow lettuce and then donate it to the animals in our care – I cannot think of anything more meaningful and special.”
In support of the Millennia Gardens Elementary School Eco Club, SeaWorld Orlando has invited the participating students and teachers to visit SeaWorld Orlando and spend the night alongside rescued manatees during an educational sleepover field trip.
The Millennia Gardens Elementary Eco Club is already beginning to work on their second harvest with hopes of completing it prior to the end of the school year.