To create a lifelong concern for conservation in Arizona's citizens of tomorrow, the Orchid Society of Arizona decided, 9 years ago, to concentrate on introducing first to eighth grade students to orchids. A hands-on approach was selected as the best way to introduce children to conservation. Each student receives a Phalaenopsis seedling to repot along with all the necessary potting supplies. Teachers ask each student to bring one clean, plastic, gallon milk jug to the program, during which, each milk jug is fashioned into a mini-greenhouse for the newly repotted seedling. The goal is to provide each student with an adult mentor to help with the repotting. Each program begins with a brief description of the blooming orchid plants on display. Most students have heard about rain forests, but generally they do not associate the plants on display with either the rain forest or conservation. Students are encouraged to ask questions and inspect the display plants. Most children are excited to repot their seedlings, and often their enthusiasm is difficult to restrain. To stress the importance of biodiversity, program team members mention recent discoveries made in rain forests, such as new chemicals and new cures for diseases. Without conservation, the world will have no rain forests, which means no new chemicals or medicines derived from rain forest plants. The presenter used volunteers from among the IOCCII registrants and a keen sense of humor to demonstrate how the orchid workshop is conducted with school children.
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