Millennia Gardens students grow lettuce for SeaWorld's manatees

By Erin Murray, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2017, 11:42 PM EST

Behind Millennia Gardens Elementary school Thursday afternoon, several EcoClub students were hard at work in the school’s new hydroponics garden.

  • Students learned to grow lettuce in hydroponics garden
  • The lettuce was donated to SeaWorld's Rescue Team
  • It will be used to feed manatees

“So let’s do some math real quick. Do you guys know how to do ten percent of something?” said Jon Peterson, SeaWorld Orlando.

Numerous kids shout out, “Yes!”

As Peterson fires questions about percentages at them, several other kids continue to harvest lettuce.

“Cut that right here,” said Shawn Andrews to a classmate.

Along with math, Thursday’s lesson is about giving. Their harvest of lettuce was planted with a cause in mind.

“It’s a lot of lettuce,” said Andrews.

And who eats lettuce in large quantities? Manatees.

“We actually realized we could partner up with SeaWorld and feed the manatees there,” said Danishka Morissette, fifth grader.

“Some of my babies only weigh 150 pounds,” said Peterson. “How many pounds of lettuce a day are they going to eat? Take the zero off, what is that?”

“Fifteen,” yell the students.  

By the end of the day 750 heads of lettuce were packed up in boxes and loaded onto a SeaWorld truck. All the lettuce to be fed to sick and injured manatees in SeaWorld’s Rescue and Rehab Program.

“Most of these kids have never seen a manatee, and still they are so passionate about saving them,” said Kelly Flaherty Clark, SeaWorld Orlando.

This shipment, will be the first of many harvests to be donated.

“I can’t wait to see the SeaWorld people actually feed it to the manatees. Because it is exciting to know that you are actually helping someone and not just helping yourself,” said Morissette.

For all their hard work and because SeaWorld is paying for the lettuce, the students will get to take an overnight field trip to SeaWorld. The trip paid for by the money earned from the lettuce.

The school expects the field trip to happen sometime in May.