Students build greenhouse to rehabilitate local endangered species
Students in Grandview Preparatory School’s Innovation Program hope to make a lasting impact on the local environment with a student-constructed greenhouse designed to house and rehabilitate local endangered species-- more specifically, butterflies.
Caitlen Macias, a rising senior in the Innovation Program at Grandview, said that the group considered many different projects, but ultimately chose the greenhouse because of its far-reaching impact. “We wanted a project that would impact our Grandview community and the South Florida area,” said Macias.
The greenhouse, completed in May 2015, houses the Atala hairstreak butterfly, along with its host plants, which are all recognized as endangered species in Florida. “We hope to bring its population back to what it once was before invasive species and over development killed its host plants,” said Tasman Rosenfeld, a rising sophomore. “Butterflies, like bees, are pollinators, so their disappearance can have significant consequences on our ecosystem.” The greenhouse also hosts some newly-endangered monarch butterflies and a number of heliconian butterflies, both of which are native to Florida.
Working to rehabilitate local species by recording, demonstrating and sharing their collaborative efforts, students hope to inspire the South Florida community to take an interest in and raise awareness about supporting the conservation of our local environment.
They have already inspired the Grandview community; a GoFundMe campaign, launched to raise the funds necessary for purchasing the materials to build the greenhouse, raised over $6,000 in less than six days.
“Not only are the students incredibly dedicated and passionate about this project, but they share those same emotions about collaborating with one another,” said Samuel Berey, director of program innovation at Grandview and faculty advisor for the project. “The greenhouse project proves that when students are interested in what they are doing and are able to use their areas of strength, they achieve at a higher level.”
Students spent time on the weekends and after school clearing land, setting the foundation and framing the structure. Once the greenhouse was complete, they created a rotation for research and maintenance. Jeffrey Adkins from Adkins Orchids, Inc. helped to the students as they learned valuable skills in building: clearing and leveling land, wielding an ax and a sledge hammer, framing a building and pouring cement.
“Projects like this one make school more like real life,” said Berey. “It’s an in-depth investigation of a real-world topic, worthy of the students’ attention and effort, and an education you definitely can not receive from a textbook.”