SeaWorld Orlando and Orange County Public Schools Celebrate 40 Years of Partnership in Conservation Education

  • Since 1982, SeaWorld Orlando and Orange Country Public schools (OCPS) have provided hands-on education on conservation, including marine life, veterinary care, hydroponic gardening, beekeeping, environmental conservation and more

  • Educational activities for students include field trips, immersive experiences, hands-on training and classroom discussion

  • SeaWorld works closely with OCPS Eco Club students, advising them on how to build and maintain a hydroponic garden to grow lettuce for the rehabilitation of manatees and how to build an apiary and care for bees whose honey is used in animal wound care

  • Programs inspire the next generation of conservationists, including an eighth grade Eco Club member Marcus Williams who plans to pursue a career in marine care?


ORLANDO, Fla., August 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — SeaWorld Orlando today announced it is celebrating 40 years of partnership with Orange Country Public Schools (OCPS) in teaching hands-on environmental and wildlife conservation. SeaWorld and OCPS together teach students about marine life, veterinary care, hydroponic gardening, beekeeping, environmental conservation and more through field trips, immersive experiences, and classroom discussions. The ongoing partnership between SeaWorld and OCPS aims to inspire the next generation to care for the environment and make a difference in the natural world.

SeaWorld (PRNews photo/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment)

As part of this partnership, SeaWorld is working closely with Eco Club, a group of students within OCPS committed to environmental conservation. Eco Club was founded in 2016 at Millennia Gardens Elementary School, a Title I school with a 95 percent minority population and 100 percent involvement in the free and reduced lunch program. Students in Eco Club learn about marine life, agriculture, conservation and the natural world through fun, hands-on environmental education activities.

“Eco Club gives students an outlet to learn about the natural world in ways we never thought possible,” said Dawn Chehab, teacher at Millennia Gardens Elementary School and co-founder of Eco Club. “We are so grateful for the interactive educational experiences SeaWorld continues to provide. It makes learning these important topics really fun for the students.”

SeaWorld helps students create hydroponic gardens to grow restaurant-grade lettuce to feed convalescent manatees and build apiaries for honey used in animal wound care

To learn more about gardening and farming, the students of the Eco Club built a hydroponic garden with 50 towers and the ability to grow more than 1,000 heads of lettuce at once. After the lettuce was successfully grown and SeaWorld helped students achieve restaurant certification, Eco Club was invited to SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Center to help feed the lettuce to the manatees. Eco Club continues to supply this lettuce to the manatees at SeaWorld Orlando and visits the park annually to participate in the feedings.

Students from the Eco Club at Westridge Middle School have built and maintained an on-campus apiary to raise honeybees and learn about beekeeping. The students bottle the honey produced at this apiary and donate gallons to SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue & Rehabilitation Center. The honey is then used by SeaWorld’s animal care experts to heal wounds from injured rescued animals.

Educational experiences in the park at SeaWorld Enabling students to learn more about animal care and conservation

Every year, Eco Club students are invited to spend the night behind the scenes at SeaWorld’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Center with animals such as manatees and sea turtles. During this camp sleepover, students take a deep educational dive to learn all about different marine species and the efforts that have gone into ensuring their conservation. Students will have the opportunity to shadow members of the SeaWorld Rescue team and learn about veterinary medicine, animal rehabilitation, observe surgeries, and learn how to make manatee calves formula.

In addition, SeaWorld Eco Club invites members of Millennia Gardens Elementary and Westridge Middle School to take an annual field trip to visit SeaWorld Orlando. Each student is accompanied by their teacher and a parent for a full day of fun and hands-on education to learn more about marine conservation and care.

Programs inspire next-generation conservationists, including eighth grade Marcus Williams

Marcus Williams was a founding member of Eco Club when he was in the third grade at Millennia Gardens Elementary. Now in eighth grade, Marcus has expanded the Eco Club to Westridge Middle School and plans to bring the club to high school next year. In the future, Marcus hopes to expand Eco Club’s footprint to schools across America. He believes it is an essential program that can help shape the future of students across the country, and ensure conservation is at the forefront of education.

“Eco Club has opened my eyes to many opportunities that I never thought possible,” said Marcus Williams, student at Westridge Middle School and founder member of Eco Club. “My experience with SeaWorld has helped me discover my true passions: helping animals, caring for the environment and making a difference in the world.”

Marcus dreams of joining SeaWorld Rescue when he grows up, just like his role model Jon Peterson, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando and chief of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue team. One day, Marcus hopes to take the helm and lead SeaWorld Rescue to help as many animals as possible.

Jon Peterson added: “Working with the students of Orange Country Public schooling is one of the most rewarding and special experiences I’ve had in my career. I have no doubt that these students will grow up to make meaningful changes to the environment and I am humbled to have played a part in their education.”

Preserving nature education among young people offers hope for the future of the environment

Students like Marcus have said that being involved in Eco Club, hands-on education from OCPS teachers, and time spent with SeaWorld leaders have influenced them and their families to use less water, recycle materials, treat animals kindly, and live an eco-friendly life. to lead. The partnership between SeaWorld and OCPS has raised awareness of the issues plaguing the environment, such as unusual manatee deaths, pollution and climate change. Industry immersion also helps students consider potential career paths in animal care and environmental conservation.

“Giving students the opportunity to visit SeaWorld, explore the rescue center and learn about marine life and conservation opens their eyes to career opportunities that would not otherwise be available to them,” said Deborah PedrazaExecutive Director at the Foundation for Orange Country Public schools. “This exposure to veterinary medicine, ocean conservation and caring for the planet awakens the importance of environmental awareness among the students.”

SeaWorld has worked with students at Eco Club to help them learn about philanthropy and the importance of giving back to their communities in creative ways, seeing themselves as important contributors to society. Students have written letters to key lawmakers to facilitate environmental policy change, made lettuce and honey donations to animals in need, and informed other students about their lessons within the partnership. These students have learned the important lesson that they can make a significant difference from an early age.

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company that delivers experiences that matter and inspires guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s leading zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company jointly creates what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has contributed to advances in animal care. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are sick, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 40,000 animals in need throughout the company’s history. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands, including SeaWorld®Busch Gardens®Aquatics®sesame place® and rescue at sea®. Over its more than 60-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks grouped in key markets across Europe. the United States, many of which exhibit his unique zoological collection. The company’s theme parks offer a diverse range of rides, shows and other attractions with a broad demographic appeal that deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

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