Sunday, March 29, 2009


Fairchild Challenge’s Environmental Immersion Day Covers 27 South Florida Environmental Sites

 CORAL GABLES, FL – March 30, 2009Caroline Lewis, director of the Fairchild Challenge, the environmental outreach program of South Florida’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG), today announced an Environmental Immersion Day (EID) event that will bring together almost 300 students and dozens of scientists at 27 real field research settings throughout South Florida to find ways to save the planet. The event, considered one of FTBG’s prime annual events, takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tues., March 31.

 The students from 31 public and private high schools will join environmentalists, biologists, botanists and other researchers at a broad array of nature centers, labs, parks, botanical gardens and marine science centers. In addition to watching the pros at work, the students will participate, taking water samples, preparing microscope slides, studying coral reef growth and collecting specimens. Details about activities and participating schools are provided below.

 “This is a perfect opportunity for our youngsters to see real scientists and naturalists in action, appreciating how this type of work and creative thinking are critical for the preservation of our environment,” said Lewis. “As a result of this experience, many teenagers will likely explore careers in environmental science. This is our hope.”

 Venues for the EID include John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo; the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center in Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park; A.D. Barnes Park in Miami; the Redlands’ Fruit and Spice Park; and Virginia Key facilities such as the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, operated by the Federal government. A complete list is provided in the attached addendum.

 Participants were selected based on application forms and letters of interest submitted. Participating schools are awarded points for participation that will count toward the school’s final ranking in the overall Fairchild Challenge results and help increase their chance of winning awards during the ceremony on Sat. May 9.

 The Fairchild Challenge offers a series of competitive individual projects and contests in which schools may earn points toward the Fairchild Challenge award and other prizes at the annual ceremony in May. Currently in its seventh year of existence, it is quickly growing to become one of the world’s most comprehensive and influential youth environmental education programs. 

The National Forum on Children and Nature, (NFCN), a high-profile campaign of the prestigious Conservation Fund, recently recognized the Fairchild Challenge as a worldwide model for connecting youths with the environment in new and creative ways.

 About the Fairchild Challenge

 The Fairchild Challenge, established in 2002 by South Florida’s 70-year-old Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, seeks to reconnect America’s youths with nature through an inter-disciplinary program available free to middle and high schools. Designed to integrate with state curriculum standards, the Fairchild Challenge offers a series of individual projects and contests in which schools may earn points toward prizes awarded at an annual ceremony each May. Staff members at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, one of the world’s premier conservation and education-oriented gardens, also train educators from public gardens, museums, zoos and other organizations to establish Fairchild Challenge programs throughout the U.S. and beyond. To learn more, visit or call 305-667-1651.

About Fairchild

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. It is one of the premier conservation and education-based gardens in the world and a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation. Currently Fairchild has field programs in over 20 countries including support to protected areas in Madagascar and Africa and botanic garden development and renovation projects in South and Central America, the Caribbean and Middle East. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden houses the National Palm Collection as recognized by the American Public Gardens Association (APGA), has the world’s greatest living collection of palms and cycads; an education program reaching more than 50,000 school children per year; hosts popular events like the International Chocolate Festival, International Mango Festival and International Orchid Festival, the Ramble, concerts, affiliated plant society shows and sales and more; and, is a not-for-profit organization relying on the support of its 40,000 members and benefactors. Fairchild hosts major art events such as Mark di Suvero, Fernando Botero, Dale Chihuly and Kris Martin at Fairchild this year, Botero, Lichtenstein and Chihuly at Fairchild in 2008 and Chihuly at Fairchild in 2005 and 2006. Fairchild is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables (Miami), Florida 33156. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for children 6-17 and free to children 5 and under and Fairchild members. For more information, please visit us at and on Facebook at

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Editor’s Notes:     Interviews and photographs are available upon request

                              The EID program will yield superb photo opportunities, and interviews    
                              may be arranged with students and scientists

2009 Fairchild Challenge Environmental Immersion Day:

Participating Venues and Schools

 Venues (27)

 A.D. Barnes Park, Westchester

 Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, Pelican Harbor Marina, 79th Street Causeway

 Castellow Hammock Preserve & Nature Center, West Kendall

 Deering Estate at Cutler, Palmetto Bay

 Everglades National Park, Homestead

 Everglades Outpost, Homestead

 The Fruit & Spice Park, Redland

 Greynolds Park, North Miami

 Historic Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, Virginia Key

 John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo

 The Kampong/National Tropical Botanical Garden, Coconut Grove

 Kids Ecology Corps, Fort Lauderdale

 Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, Virginia Key

 Miami Dade College Kendall Campus, Kendall

 Miami Dade College North Campus, Miami

 Monkey Jungle’s Dumond Conservatory, Homestead

 Montgomery Botanical Center, Coral Gables

 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Field Lab, Virginia Key

 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological  Laboratory, Virginia Key

 National Park Service Office, Palmetto Bay and Black Point Marina, Cutler Bay

 Officer Snook Water Pollution Program, Coral Gables

 Oleta River State Park, North Miami

 South Florida Water Management District Service Center, Miami

 Shake A Leg Miami, Coconut Grove

 Tropical Audubon Society, Sunset

 University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Virginia Key

 Subtropical Horticulture and Research Station, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Coral Gables

 Schools (31)

 ?American Senior High
Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School
Barbara Goleman Senior High
Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart
Christopher Columbus High School
Conservatory Preparatory Senior High
Coral Gables Senior High
Coral Reef Senior High
Design and Architecture Senior High
Doctor's Charter School of Miami Shores
G. Holmes Braddock Senior High
Gulliver Preparatory School
Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High
MAST Academy
Mater Academy Charter High School
Miami Senior High
Miami Central Senior High
Miami Edison Senior High
Miami Jackson Senior High
Miami Killian Senior High
Miami Palmetto Senior High
Miami Southridge Senior High
North Miami Senior High
Our Lady of Lourdes Academy
Pembroke Pines Charter High School
Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High
Ruth Owens Kruse Educational Center
Somerset Academy Charter High School
South Plantation High School
Westland Hialeah Senior High School
Young Men's Preparatory Academy

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