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A Habitat In The Making
JUPITER, FL – August, 2017 – The Perry J. Cohen Foundation (PJCF), a registered not for profit 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on environmental, marine, and wildlife education and preservation of our coastlines, has set out to contribute and raise funds to benefit the transformation and development of a stormwater retention pond at the entrance of Jupiter Community High School into a wetlands habitat. The transformation will be made possible by introducing plant material consistent to the five ecozones of Florida. Upon completion, the habitat will be known as the “Perry J. Cohen Wetlands Laboratory at Jupiter High School.”
Joining the PJCF in this endeavor is the Jupiter Environmental Research & Field Studies Academy (JERFSA), the Partnership for Environmental Education, and, of course, the Jupiter Community High School. The Perry J. Cohen Wetlands Laboratory and created habitat is being planted as this article is produced with materials ranging from Coastal Upland Hammock to the Littoral Shelf just inside the shallow portion of the campus’ pond. The habitat’s design includes an ADA boardwalk into the deepest part of the pond and a bridge with stairs into the water, providing students and teachers with safe platforms to access the water safely. Additionally, there will be a nature trail with interpretive signage that identifies the varied plant material and the ecozones.
The created wetlands laboratory project’s phase one, “Outdoor Classroom” got underway this August. The PJCF received assistance by general contractor Yukon Construction and concrete supplier Supermix, who donated their services for this portion of the project. Additionally, Wantman Group, Inc. (WGI) has committed to provide the overall engineering and design plans for the entire project. Once completed, the wetlands laboratory will be a template for outdoor classrooms within school campuses all over the Palm Beach County area. According to Nick Korniloff, Vice President of PJCF, the entire outdoor laboratory will be funded by spring of 2018 and construction complete by spring of 2019—when Perry would’ve graduated. The project will feature a mural by iconic street artist Shepard Fairey and has already surpassed its short term fundraising goals with the support of private donations from the Miami Dolphins Foundation, The Palm Beach Modern & Contemporary Fair, and the Telvi family in C/O the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.
“The Wetlands is a great project because it combines opportunities for students to learn about the environment,” says Colleen Iannitti, principal of Jupiter Community High School. “It will include our elements and it will be placed where out-of-school students and community members can have a real-life experience in an authentic outdoor classroom where they can take samples and monitor changes over time. On a personal note, this project touches my heart because Perry Cohen was my student and this place is a direct tribute to him. He loved the environment and the arts, and this place is a combination of both.”