Students from Millennia Gardens Elementary School in Orlando donated 1,000 heads of lettuce from their student hydroponics garden to SeaWorld's Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program on Friday.
The students, ranging from third to fifth grades, spent a month working on the garden.
“We are so proud of the Millennia Gardens Elementary Eco Club," principle Anne Lynaugh said. "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.”
The SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team rescues between 20 and 40 stranded marine mammals annually, and the majority are manatees. With vegetation being the primary diet for manatees, SeaWorld Orlando relies on hundreds of pounds of lettuce to feed these rescued animals daily.
“This donation is a truly amazing one," said Jon Peterson, manager of animal rescue at SeaWorld Orlando. "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. 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.”
To thank the Eco Club, SeaWorld Orlando invited the students and teachers to visit the park and spend the night alongside rescued manatees during an educational sleepover field trip.
The Millennia Gardens Elementary Eco Club already is beginning work on its second harvest with hopes of completing it before the end of the school year.