AMSET’s rise to help the planet

AMSET students planted black needle rush to provide homes for marsh animals.


Max Stys | SNN

Junior Amaiya Washington and seniors Lina Awatsa and Emma Beresford visit a nature preserve with the Tampa Bay Watch to plant black needle rush. The Tampa Bay Watch is an environmental group thats goal is to protect Tampa bay from pollution and provide support to wildlife. “It was good people were catching bees and stuff like that. People were also catching spiders and stuff and we had these little glass magnifiers, and we were magnifying the bees and spiders,” Washington said.


Lakewood’s AMSET program hosted a field trip on Oct. 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. at the Pinellas County Migration Site in Tarpon Springs. On this field trip AMSET’s main goal was to plant bladed grass (called black needle rush) into the ponds of Tarpon Springs to help with tides in the general environment while assisting local fish and plant populations. This field trip not only gave its participants a chance to help the environment, but also earn some volunteering hours.

Students worked with St. Pete Watch to help with local plant and fish populations by planting black needle rush and planting roots (called bio cardboard) which are used for structure and support for the plant.

While the students were planting black needle rush and bio carboard, the St. Pete Watch was plucking away at an invasive species also called cow pea. This was a big hands-on experience for these students. This is one of the few hands-on field trips the AMSET program has been able to have since before quarantine.

Senior Tony Falcon, participant on the AMSET field trip who has been with the program all four years of high school had this to say about the trip, “I would definitely go on another AMSET field trip. Besides my shoes probably being stained forever, I had a blast, and it was fun to help the environment while having fun, I had a great time.”

Falcon’s interest started in middle school when he had to look for potential future jobs that interested him. He found aquaculture quite to his liking, and when looking for programs to follow up with this interest he found Lakewood High School’s AMSET magnet program to be very suitable for his path.

Sophomore Tyson Laver is still new to the program, and this was his first AMSET field trip. “I would definitely go on another AMSET field trip, the water was fun and I’m saving the environment,” Laver said.  Laver also appreciates the more hands-on approach the AMSET program has with things like its field trips and AMSET animals.

“Yeah, I would definitely go on another field trip especially if it’s this kind of thing where we are more hands on, I liked trying to catch different animals like the blue crabs who were impossible to catch but it was still fun trying to catch, but preferably I would like to bring boots next time because I lost a shoe,” Senior Willam Barthelmes said.