Coral Gables

Fairchild Palms to host second annual Fall Flavors to benefit Fairchild Challenge

The second annual Fall Flavors event to support The Fairchild Challenge is set to take place from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

One of two major fundraising events hosted by the Fairchild Palms, the youngest professionals group affiliated with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Fall Flavors is an all-inclusive gala featuring an open bar, local culinary flavors, music and a live raffle. This year, food and beverages will be provided by Landmark Vineyards, Local Boy Poke, Threefold Café, CrepeMaker, LoKal, Pure Brazilian Coconut Water, Justin Vineyards and Winery, and others.

All proceeds from the event support The Fairchild Challenge, an award-winning Coral Gables-based international green education competition recognized by the American Public Gardens Association for setting the standard for exceptional STEM education. Students from pre-K to high school are eligible to participate.

“We encourage everyone to come out and support the hundreds of thousands of kids and teachers who benefit every year from The Fairchild Challenge,” said Jessica Zarate, horticulturalist and Fairchild Palms board secretary. “You can come in and join us, eat and drink all you want and leave having helped a great cause and wanting to come back again next year. Kids today, more than ever before, are conscious of the environment and how important it is to conserve it. The Fairchild Challenge builds that consciousness and encourage scientific learning.”

Founded in 2002, The Fairchild Challenge is a nonprofit environmental outreach program that promotes scientific literacy, civic engagement, creative expression and lifelong learning in students, their friends and families. Public, private and charter schools throughout the country and across the globe are invited every year to participate in environmentally themed challenges designed by Fairchild. Schools amass points, based on grade levels, which are used at the end of the year to award cash prizes to the highest performing schools and college scholarships to deserving students.

The Fairchild Challenge is also used as a tool for improving education levels within Miami-Dade County Public Schools. One requirement to become a STEM-certified school within the district is to participate in the program. Additionally, schools with low test scores (C-ratings or lower) must do The Fairchild Challenge in order to receive remediation.

“It’s free of charge for schools to participate and we make sure to provide them with all the tools they need so that the playing field is level for everything we ask them to do,” said Amy Padolf, director of education at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. “Some participating students have gone on to college to publish on the work that they did in the competition.”

According to The Fairchild Challenge’s 2014-15 annual report, more than 153,000 students and teachers participated last year in challenges including “Plant Life Cycles,” an elementary school art competition in which students were asked to draw the various stages of a plant’s life; “Green Treasures,” a middle school project in which students interviewed elders about their experiences with nature and published their findings in a newsletter; and “Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project,” a high school challenge in which students spent six months raising native orchids, experimenting with growth and development factors and creating presentations of their findings.

Managing and financing a monumental program such as The Fairchild Challenge requires steady funding. This, said Padolf, is where the Fairchild Palms and its events, like Fall Flavors (whose tickets are tax-deductible) comes in.

“It’s really supporting the community as much as it’s supporting the program,” she said. “We can’t do The Fairchild Challenge without the generous support of groups like the Fairchild Palms and the people who support events like Fall Flavors."

If you go

▪ What: Fall Flavors to benefit The Fairchild Challenge

▪ Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables

▪ When: 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18

For more information and to buy tickets ($65 advance, $85 at door), visit www.fairchildpalms.org.

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