|The President’s Hoot|
by Richard H. Baker, Ph.D.
We are excited starting our massive new project to transform Indian River County (IRC), to save our waters, rivers, lakes and lagoon as well as to help reduce climate change (see October 2018 Hoot for details).
To update you, we are moving ahead with Plant 100,000 Trees for Life. With the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) as a collaborator, we are starting a pilot project to: 1) plant 5,000 trees in the next two years. 2) teach horticultural practices to students and families using STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) concepts to improve STEAM knowledge & performance and encourage career paths in science & horticulture in students 3) increase nature’s benefits of our landscapes; 4) improve human psychological and physical wellness and 5) increase access to healthy foods especially for low socio-economic status students & families. This project will demonstrate how engagement with horticultural practices & planting trees can help youth & communities understand & create connections between nature & human health & well-being. During this project we aim to work with county & city officials to revise their landscape ordinances to favor native tree species over extensive lawns. A component of this project is to develop expertise in assessing & measuring the mental & physical health benefits of such a project on the county’s population.
Many organizations and IRC Schools have signed on as partners: UF/IFAS IRC Extension Office, Ocean Research Conservation Association, IRC School District, Indian River Land Trust (IRLT), Peterson’s Farms, Sebastian River Farms, Cherry Lake Farm, Arbor Day Foundation, Digg Gardens, Estuarine, Coastal & Ocean Science, Inc., Florida Research Center, IRC Health Department, City of Vero Beach GIS Division (Each tree planted will be placed on a GPS map.), Cultural Council of IRC, Indian River Neighborhood Assoc., Vero Beach Elementary, Osceola Magnet, Indian River Academy, Gifford Middle,
In the photos below, we have installed s greenhouse, collected thousands of acorns and have over 4,100 acorns that have started to germinate and being put into one gallon pots.