Current News of The Fairchild Challenge

March, 2016


Our Spring Exploring Environmental Sciences Day connected students with local graduate students and scientists, providing a diverse overview of possible hands-on environmental science career paths. Participants learned plant propagation and restoration techniques as well as identification and conservation of native fauna, amongst other topics.

Throughout the month, we have been traveling to elementary schools for garden visits. Some of the highlights include repurposed kiddie pool and even upcycled shoe mini-gardens.

February, 2016

We had great turn-outs for events in February. Elementary students presented their environmental projects to their peers at YouthCaN Miami on February 5th. Blick art supply store held a reception that highlighted Fairchild Challenge student artwork, grades K-12. Thanks to all the families that joined us to celebrate student work. We honored local educators with moonlit tram tours and hors d’oeuvres at our annual Educator Appreciation night on February 23rd.

January, 2016

The new year kicked off with a teacher training for The Million Orchid Project challenge. We held an elementary art show, hosted high school environmental debates and visited school gardens in January. Families joined us for a showcase of elementary Florida Flora and Friends artwork mid-month. At the end of January, high school students gained valuable public speaking skills at our annual Environmental Debates, which focused on food security.

December, 2015

The University of Miami offered a free Debate workshop for high school students to prepare for The Fairchild Challenge Environmental Debates.

At the Garden, participants of the Fairchild Challenge for elementary schools paraded their Everglades animal masks made out of recycled materials.

November, 2015

In November, middle and high school students enjoyed an art workshop at Fairchild and received instruction about botanical illustration by local artists. The first Exploring Environmental Sciences Day of The Fairchild Challenge year attracted high school students to explore career options in biological end environmental science.

October, 2015

October was busy. We received hundreds of entries for The Million Orchid Project Design challenge and for the Educator Challenge. We held a variety of workshops, beginning with Communicating Science, a literature search and presentation training for high school students. October 13-15th marked our annual Green Treasures ethnobotanical interviews for middle school students to ask their elders questions about the voyages of plants. We also held two art workshops for elementary students to prepare for their mixed media collage of an Everglades plant in its habitat.

September, 2015

On September 26th, 140 educators attended a workshop for our middle and high school Growing Beyond Earth challenge, which is in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Participants were introduced to the unique challenge as well as to the involved NASA staff.

August, 2015

The 2015-2016 Fairchild Challenge kicked off with the Teachers’ Information Brunches. Hundreds of teachers came to Fairchild for overviews of the challenges. This year, The Fairchild Challenge for Elementary Schools is partnering with the Everglades Foundation to bring conservation messages of Florida’s fragile ecosystems to students. The Fairchild Challenge for Middle and High Schools is partnering with University of Rhode Island and Florida International University for the second year of Lizards on the Loose and with NASA scientists at Kennedy Space Center for the first year of Growing Beyond Earth.

June-July, 2015


Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden offers 6-week paid summer internships for highly motivated Fairchild Challenge high school students who are interested in plant biology, ecology and molecular evolution. Fourteen high school interns are working in Fairchild’s molecular lab. They collected leaf samples from Encyclia tampensis and Cyrtopodium punctatum orchids, successfully extracted DNA from the samples and are currently testing ways to identify relatedness of individual orchids. 


May, 2015

The Fairchild Challenge program year concluded with outreach, awards and honors. This year, thirty high schools propagated native Florida orchids as part of Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project. Fairchild Challenge staff and volunteers traveled to eighteen schools to help students plant two-year-old orchids on school grounds. Schools are the first urban orchid outplanting sites for Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project.

On May 2nd, we held our annual Teachers’ Celebration Brunch, during which we received great program feedback from participating educators. Next, we set out to celebrate the students at our awards ceremonies. We are glad to announce that Daniel Viciana and Meaghan Senzig of Robert Morgan Educational Center received Lewis Vaughn Memorial Scholarships, and our summer interns are Ana Lam of Coral Reef Senior High, Nicolas Petrakis of Archimedean Upper Conservatory, Samantha Ferguson of Felix Varela Senior High, Jasmine Almonte of Cutler Bay High, Catherine Martinez of MAST Academy, Kelsey Peeples of Miami Killian Senior High, Ebony Taylor of South Plantation High, Vanessa Hilaire of William H. Turner Tech, Stephen Lu of Miami Palmetto Senior High, and Frank Lopez of Everglades Preparatory Academy.

Congratulations, schools!

Fairchild Challenge News Archives 2014-2015
Fairchild Challenge News Archives 2013-2014
Fairchild Challenge News Archives 2012-2013