The Reef Environmental Education Foundation recently received a large donation through a creative fundraising project. Chesterton High School in Chesterton, Indiana, celebrated its 51st Homecoming this fall and decided to deviate from normal festivities. The homecoming theme was “CHS Gives Back,” and the week centered on raising money for charity.

The Student Council wanted to put their money and effort into something more meaningful than the usual homecoming floats this year. In lieu of constructing floats, each class built colorful, wooden playhouses and auctioned the structures on eBay. CHS donated the proceeds to various organizations and philanthropies. The sophomore class selected REEF as its beneficiary.

The Building Trades class constructed the playhouses from scratch in just 14 days. During homecoming week, the sophomores convened to paint the ocean themed playhouse, decorating the walls with fish, corals, a giant yellow submarine, and a friendly purple octopus. The winning eBay bidder, a local resident, purchased the playhouse for $460. REEF received one hundred percent of the proceeds.

Assistant Principal Kevin Zeck said the project was a huge success and the playhouses were widely received by the community. The student body came together and used their time and talents to construct long lasting works of art. Chesterton students and teachers created five playhouses, raising $2,875 in total for selected organizations. Zeck says the project is a new tradition, and the school will continue building and auctioning playhouses in the future.

Contributions from individuals and organizations like Chesterton High School help fuel the success of REEF programs. With donations, we can continue expanding our research, education, and outreach efforts. We can host more fish identification presentations, Fishinars, and lionfish handling workshops. We can continue researching invasive lionfish populations and monitoring endangered Nassau grouper spawning aggregations. We can engage more marine enthusiasts in conserving the oceans.

If you would like to contribute to REEF and marine conservation this holiday season, please visit or call (305)852-0030. During our winter campaign, donors contributing $250 or more will receive a limited edition, signed print of a spectacular Nassau Grouper spawning aggregation photographed by Paul Humann. More information on REEF conservation programs is available at