Posted by on May 7, 2019


Principal Williams and Assistant Superintendant Jodi McClay

As the trend of sustainability takes on new momentum from energized groups around the world, many schools are getting involved, giving it even more impetus.

One such group is Temecula Valley High School’s (TVHS) Biosustainability Club. TVHS Biosustainability Club received a CTA IFT Grant of $20K to help support the construction of an on-campus aquaponics greenhouse designed, built, and maintained by students. The grant was 1 of 132 applications that were submitted by CTA members statewide. That represents the highest number of applications in the eight-year history of the grant program. All proposals were evaluated through the lens of the IFT Strength-Based matrix and each was scored on a 0-3-point scale for each of the seven areas of the matrix.


Temecula Valley teacher Toby Brannon shows off the schools new greenhouse that students will use for a biosustainability class at Temecula Valley High School in Temecula


According to Advanced Placement Biology teacher Tobin Brannon, “The Biosustainability Greenhouse came about because of a small classroom aquaponics system I built in my classroom and the level of student interest that was generated by it.  Based on student interest and in an attempt to put science into the hands of students (while being service oriented), I applied for a grant from the California Teachers’ Association (specifically the Institute for Teaching).   We received a $20,000 grant to build the greenhouse and aquaponic system within.  The greenhouse and everything in it was built collaboratively by students. All of the research, design, shopping and construction was completed by high school students.


Chef Ivan Flowers – TVHS Culinary Arts Program


Students are also responsible for daily maintenance of the system.” The Biosustainability project affords Temecula Valley High School students a unique opportunity to build and run a state-of-the art aquaponics system that will supply green produce and fish for the needs of the campus’ new Culinary Arts Program and also provide donated food to the Temecula Food Pantry.



The plan is to use the waste generated from more than 100 fish to feed rows of leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach and kale, that will be donated to local food pantries and the school’s Culinary Arts Program.


The Temecula Valley Unified School District and TVHS gave the club a plot of vacant land next to the baseball field on campus to build the greenhouse, which is approximitely 30 feet by 55 feet.



TVHS Principal Allen Williams said, “Temecula Valley has been on the map for so many great reasons and this adds another piece to what we are offering our students. This project demonstrates how we are partnering with the community to fulfill our vision and mission of our school, which is to have our students thrive and contribute to their community and world.”

“This project extends the boundaries of TVHS’s influence in the community. It allows our students and school the opportunity to give and serve, not to mention the practical application of scientific inquiry and exploration,” Williams said.