Students participate in life-changing trips through Dustin’s Greenhouse

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Over the next several weeks, teachers will spend a lot of time getting to know their students. Some standout and demand more attention because they’re outgoing.

To an outsider, it may look like a three-week vacation, but for the students participating in the summer trips through Dustin’s Greenhouse, it’s a life-changing adventure.

“Many of their plans and trajectories change after this trip,” said Martin Green, one of the organization’s founders. “Some of them want to get into education or the medical field or some profession where they can help somebody, and they may have had a whole different idea before this experience.”

Martin and Lou Green started Dustin’s Greenhouse in honor of their son, Dustin.

“He went to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and it just changed him,” Martin Green said. “He came back a different kid, and six months later, he was dead.” Dustin died in a car wreck at the age of 19.

“You’re faced with a crossroads,” he said. “You can quit and you can give up, but I look back and I see there are hundreds and hundreds of students who have been impacted by his loss and it makes it a little easier.”

Over the past 14 years, students have traveled to places such as Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala and South Africa where participants have participated in shark cage diving, and mountain climbing. There’s also a homestay and service component.

“We went into the homes of people in the village and stayed with them for a night and that completely alters your perspective on what it means to have enough,” said Madelyn Rindal. She went to South Africa in 2010 but is now a teacher at Allen Middle School.

Joshua Caudle, a student at High Point University, doesn’t believe he’d be where he is today without Dustin’s Greenhouse.

“Because Martin and Lou saw something in me, it made me get serious about academics and I started to look at what I could do in this area,” said Caudle. “I found HPU and due to the service we did on this trip, it qualified me for a First Generation Scholarship.”

“Some of these kids don’t realize how much hope they have, how much power they have, how much potential they have,” said Martin Green. “And when you plant that seed and show them what’s available to them and how they can drive their own lives, you see them grow into these amazing adults.”

The Greens are confident Dustin would be so proud of the organization that’s changing lives in his honor. “There are times that we just know he’s there. We can tell he’s with us.”

For more information: http://www.dustinsgreenhouse.org/main.html