Monday, February 2, 2015



Media contact: Brooke LeMaire
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
305-667-1651, ext. 3392


Students from Miami Norland Senior High participate in Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project




Coral Gables, FL, January 28, 2015 – Conservation scientists, volunteers, and the education staff of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden recently visited 30 high schools in Miami-Dade County to teach students the art of deflasking the native and endangered orchids they have been growing as part of Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project. The project aims to reestablish rare and endangered native orchids throughout public spaces in South Florida, including school campuses. Scientists and volunteers at Fairchild have joined with the community in the pursuit of generating a limitless supply of native orchids using micropropagation techniques.


The newest community outreach is taking place at 30 schools that participate in the annual Fairchild Challenge, an award-winning, multidisciplinary environmental science competition. Fairchild hosted a training program for teachers in October 2014 and provided shelving units, equipment, and native orchid seedlings free of charge for each school. The students have been studying the plant growth since, and were recently visited by Fairchild staff to remove the orchids from the micropropagation bottles and to plant them in larger crates where they will continue to grow until they are ready to be installed in trees around their school.


“It’s so inspiring to see how this project resonates with students,” said Amy Padolf, Director of Education at Fairchild.


Integration of the Million Orchid Project in schools began with a pilot program at Terra Environmental Research Institute, where more than 10,000 orchid seedlings were housed in the science classroom in October 2013. After students ran experiments and monitored the plant growth, they deflasked the orchids and installed them into trees around their school in July 2014. Due to the pilot program’s success, the Million Orchid Project has expanded to 29 additional high schools participating in the annual Fairchild Challenge.


Beginning in the late 1800s, native orchids were torn from the trees they grew on and were shipped across the U.S. to those who coveted their exotic-looking blooms. Now, the number of native orchids in the wild is low. The Million Orchid Project began in the Micropropagation Lab with the opening of the DiMare Science Village in 2012 and has continued to expand its mission through community partnerships.  


The schools participating in the Million Orchid Project are Allison Academy, Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll School, Barbara Goleman Senior High, Christi/STEPSS Academy, Christopher Columbus High, Coral Reef Senior High, Doctors Charter School, Dorothy M. Wallace COPE Center, Everglades Preparatory Academy, G. Holmes Braddock Senior High, Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High, Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy, Miami Beach Senior High, Miami Carol City Senior High, Miami Country Day School, Miami Jackson Senior High, Miami Killian Senior High, Miami MacArthur South, Miami Norland Senior High, Miami Northwestern Senior High, Miami Palmetto Senior High, North Miami Beach Senior High, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Palmer Trinity School, Robert Morgan Educational Center, Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High, South Plantation High, TERRA Environmental Research Institute, Westland Hialeah Senior High, and William H. Turner Technical Arts High School.


About Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Established in 1938 and comprising 83 acres in Miami, Fla., Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. The world-renowned plant collections feature palms, cycads, orchids, tropical fruit trees and more. Fairchild has the largest education program of any metropolitan area, reaching more than 200,000 schoolchildren each year with environmental programs like The Fairchild Challenge. It aims to inspire a greater knowledge and love for plants and gardening so that all can enjoy the beauty and bounty of the tropical world. Special events include Chocolate, Mango, Orchid and Edible Garden Festivals in addition to an annual art exhibition, concerts, plant sales and more. Fairchild is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156. For more info, call 305-667-1651 or visit Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.