Riverview High School celebrated the opening of its new aquascience greenhouse Saturday, May 5, with a guided tour of the new 30-foot-by-72-foot structure, showcasing the months of hard work put in by students and volunteers.
The aquascience greenhouse project was put into the works several years ago. The expansion was made possible through funding from grants from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as support from local businesses and organizations, including CMSA Architects, Mills Gilbane Contractors, Full Dome FX, Mote Marine Aquaculture Research Lab, New College’s Pritzker Marine Laboratory, the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory and Ringling College of Art and Design.
With the financial backing in place, students and volunteers put in hours of work constructing the greenhouse and its various tanks and filtration systems.
“It’s amazing how much time and service people have donated,” said student Tyler Fushikoshi, who helped design the fish aquaria and filtration systems. “The Florida community really wanted this and thought it was important.”
The new greenhouse features saltwater coral donated by Sea World, touch tanks with starfish and tanks of various freshwater fish, including clownfish, tilapia and koi, and will serve as a way to educate the public about marine life.
“It’s all about sustainability and preserving our natural habitats,” Fushikoshi said. “Eventually, we want to have elementary-school students use the greenhouse for educational tours.”
The greenhouse, along with the school’s new planetarium, will be used to teach students about both outer space and marine environments. Riverview expects around 9,000 students to visit the facility each year as part of its Kids teaching Kids program. The first project is a locally produced program called “From Stars to Starfish,” which will teach visitors about both outer space and marine life.
Riverview hopes to eventually add a research lab immediately next door to the greenhouse, and Fushikoshi says the plan is to eventually host programs offering college credit and national certification for students seeking jobs in the aquaculture field immediately after high school.