Aquaponics in STEM Education

By Julie Flegal-Smallwood

According to Economic Modeling Specialists International (2017), STEM jobs will grow 13% between 2017 and 2027, while other career options will grow 9%. In addition, STEM jobs have a median salary of almost twice that of non-STEM jobs. The majority of STEM careers require at least some college, and most students, regardless of level, consider math, science, and other similar classes to be the hardest and most challenging. At the college level, this is often the reason many of my students are ready to graduate but still need to fulfill a college-level mathematics requirement. This is particularly true for low-income, minority, underprepared, or first generation college students.

 Aquaponics continues to be a content area which easily blends many aspects of STEM, and can turn “I can’t” attitudes into “I can”.  It allows students to be engaged in a real-world, important application of STEM. Redlands Community College in El Reno, OK has a robust Aquaponics program associated with two degrees  and a certificate program related to Agricultural Sustainability.

 Last year, I had a non-traditional (in almost every sense of the word) student who sat on the back row the first night of class, and looked as if he might bolt out the door at our break time. As a 36-year old Marine veteran, who also happened to be Native American and a first generation college student, Jason was dubious. He took the class only because he needed a 4-hour class to round out his schedule, and didn’t think it would have much “science and math stuff”.

With each class period he became more engaged, and by midterm asked if he could design a system for his home as his research requirement. Late at night, I would get text messages with pictures of the welding he had been doing or some tanks he had found to use in his homegrown approach. Our schedule included Saturday lab days and field trips, and he asked to bring his wife and children so they

 could learn more about his new passion. By the time we reached fish dissection, his 9-year old daughter was fixture in the class as well.

A year later, his life is much different. Instead of wondering if he could complete community college, he has upped his goals and wants to get a graduate degree in Microbiology or Chemistry, and hopes to work in the Aquaponics industry. In the meantime, he has three systems at home, is working on another one, and is a permanent volunteer in our greenhouse. He credits aquaponics at helping him break through significant PTSD issues, giving him a goal, and passing on some excitement to his five children, three of whom are girls.

 

We  have a STEM Track at this year conference. Check out our STEM Education Conference Discount.

Aquaponics Across Connecticut!

The Putting Up Shoots Conference features tours of four sites across the great state of Connecticut.

Guests will get a first-hand look at all angles of aquaponics: commercial, food safety, community, research, and STEM education.

Tours will inform afternoon sessions and team-building. We will identify ways that Connecticut growers are breaking down barriers and growing more with aquaponics, and how we can all apply these lessons.

Check out the Putting Up Shoots Conference Homepage for ticket info.

Also check out the draft Putting Up Shoots Schedule.

Email community@aquaponicsassociation.org for questions.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

People, Planet, and Profit – Tawnya Sawyer Speaker Spotlight

Tawnya Sawyer from the Aquaponic Source and Colorado Aquaponics will be at the upcoming Putting Up Shoots conference in Hartford, September 21-23.

Tawnya will host multiple discussions in the Commercial Aquaponics Learning Track. Here’ the first:

People, Planet, Profit – Aquaponics’ Triple Bottom Line

All savvy businesses leaders these days are focused on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Aquaponics is one of those premier “green-technologies” that has it all. Aquaponics is about feeding people nutritious food, providing job skills, and greater self reliance. It’s about the planet by reducing waste, and natural resource consumption, while mimicking a natural ecosystem. And if done correctly, aquaponics can also be a profitable endeavor if that is your goal. This session will create an open forum to discuss various different aquaponic projects here and around the world which have achieved the triple bottom line and how others can use those models to build their own aquaponic venture.

Tawnya’s community forum engages thousands of home hobbyist, schools and farmers all over the world. We will share their success stories as well as their toughest tragedies in an attempt to ensure that your aquaponics system will flourish. The more you know, the more you grow.

Get your tix today!

 

You Built It – Now What!?

Tawnya Sawyer from the Aquaponic Source and Colorado Aquaponics will be at the upcoming Putting Up Shoots conference in Hartford, September 21-23.

There is so much excitement around designing and building an aquaponic system. But, once you have it all built, now what? From cycling to harvesting and everything in between, the system depends on you. Tawnya’s session will discuss the most important aspects of managing and optimizing your aquaponic system, from day to day operations, preventative practices and avoiding common mistakes.

Topics include:

  • Cycling and bacteria management;
  • Source water and water quality;
  • Solids management and mineralization;
  • Keeping your fish healthy and happy;
  • Selecting and growing abundant crops; and
  • Pest prevention and recovery.

Get your Putting Up Shoots Tickets today!

Check out Tawnya’s other discussion: People, Planet, Profit – Aquaponic’s Triple Bottom Line

STEM & Community Scholarship Drive

This year, just as every year, the Association Board is deluged with requests from amazing growers that would love to attend the annual conference but don’t have the financial means.

But we need all growers represented to break down barriers and grow more of our food with aquaponics. These growers are on the front lines, often making a difference with aquaponics in the most difficult circumstances.

Therefore, we are seeking funders to sponsor an even more affordable set of tickets for STEM and Community growers.

If you or someone you know are willing to sponsor tickets for teachers, students, or non-profit growers, head here for more information: STEM & Community Scholarship Drive.

CEU Credits for Putting Up Shoots

Redlands Community College in El Reno, OK is pleased to partner with the Aquaponics Association to award continuing education credit for Putting Up Shoots conference attendance. Educators and other professionals who would like CEUs for all or part of the conference can complete an on-site request form indicating the sessions attended. Upon submission, attendees will be mailed a certificate designating the appropriate number of CEUs. In addition, this continuing education credit will be formally transcripted at Redlands Community College. Questions regarding continuing education credit can be directed to Conference Vice-Chair Julie Flegal-Smallwood (julie.flegalsmallwood@redlandscc.edu).

Aquaponics Happy Hour!

 

Hope you are ready to have a good time at this year’s Putting Up Shoots conference in Hartford, CT, because we have Friday and Saturday evening happy hours! We’ll be getting some “supplies” from the local micro-brewing industry, and talking about how aquaponics can help their cause with fresh local hops.

 

Have you ever been to an aquaponics conference happy hour? If not, you’re missing out, we are a wild and fun-loving bunch! Come mix and mingle with like minded individuals. Pick each other’s brains while having a good time. 

This is your chance to make important business contacts, mingle with the most advanced aquaponic growers in the world, and have a great time!

Don’t miss this opportunity.

Register today!

Click here for Putting Up Shoots Conference

 

Aquaponics Conference is at The Hilton

We’re so excited to host the 2018 “Putting Up Shoots” Aquaponics Association Conference at the Hilton Hartford in Hartford, CT!

This gorgeous venue will host all of our sessions, breakout groups, happy hours, and guests from near and far, making it easy to see every speaker and network all weekend long!

Stay at the Hilton and experience spacious, comfortable guest rooms with beautiful views of the city, innovative bistro dining, a gym and indoor pool, and so much more!

Located in the heart of Hartford, CT. Just steps away from many things to do in the evening after a fun day at the conference.

We have set up a block of rooms at a special rate at The Hilton Hartford.

Book your room today !

Senate 2018 Farm Bill Provisions for Aquaponics and Hydroponics

Aquaponics and/or hydroponics are referenced in four different sections of the Senate’s 2018 Farm Bill Draft, listed below. Click here to join our 2018 Aquaponics Farm Bill Coalition and sign our letter to Congress.

SEC. 7212. URBAN, INDOOR, AND OTHER EMERGING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND EXTENSION INITIATIVE.

Within one year of passage of the Farm Bill, the USDA Secretary must conduct a census of urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production, including information about—

(A) community gardens and farms located in urban areas, suburbs, and urban clusters;

(B) rooftop farms, outdoor vertical production, and green walls;

(C) indoor farms, greenhouses, and high-tech vertical technology farms;

(D) hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farm facilities; and

(E) other innovations in agricultural production, as determined by the Secretary.

 

SEC. 11122. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation will conduct research that evaluates the effectiveness of policies and plans of insurance for production targeted toward local consumers and markets, including policies and plans of insurance that—

(i) consider small-scale production in various areas, including urban, suburban, and rural areas;

(ii) consider a variety of marketing strategies

(iii) allow for production in soil and in alternative systems such as vertical systems, greenhouses, rooftops, or hydroponic systems;

 

SEC. 12302. URBAN AGRICULTURE. OFFICE OF URBAN AGRICULTURE AND INNOVATIVE PRODUCTION

The Farm Bill Creates the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. The mission of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including—

(A) community gardens and farms located in urban areas, suburbs, and urban clusters;

(B) rooftop farms, outdoor vertical production, and green walls;

(C) indoor farms, greenhouses, and high-tech vertical technology farms;

(D) hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farm facilities; and

(E) other innovations in agricultural production, as determined by the Secretary.

 

SEC. 12616. MICRO-GRANTS FOR FOOD SECURITY

The purpose of this section is to increase the quantity and quality of locally grown food through small-scale gardening, herding, and livestock operations in food insecure communities in areas of the United States that have significant levels of food insecurity and import a significant quantity of food.

An eligible entity that receives a subgrant under this section shall use the funds to engage in activities that will increase the quantity and quality of locally grown food, including by …(F) starting or expanding hydroponic and aeroponic farming of any scale.

 

Click here to join our 2018 Aquaponics Farm Bill Coalition. We’ll sign your name onto our upcoming letter to Congress. We’ll be telling Congress they must support sustainable agriculture.