FWC collaborates with Duke Energy Florida and Coastal Conservation Association Florida to bring Aquaculture in the Classroom
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Marine Stock Enhancement Research Team has been working with school administrators, teachers, and students to bring Aquaculture and Stock Enhancement Research into the classroom for more than two decades. The Aquaculture in the Classroom program is designed for students ranging from fifth grade through college. The program teaches students the basic principles of aquaculture, marine research and how stock enhancement plays a role in supporting Florida’s marine fisheries.
Over the past two years, the FWC has teamed up with Duke Energy’s Crystal River Mariculture Center and the Coastal Conservation Association Florida who generously provided hatchery-reared red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) fingerlings to several participating schools along with the Energy and Marine Center in Pasco County.
Through this innovative collaboration, hatchery-reared red drum fingerlings, starter feed and technical advice on how to raise fingerlings in the classroom are provided to schools participating in the Aquaculture in the Classroom program. Information on system development and grant opportunities are also provided. At the end of the school year, the fingerlings are harvested and transferred to another facility or returned to the FWC to be used for outreach and education exhibits.
In the Aquaculture in the Classroom program, FWC biologists work with teachers to develop curriculum that meets Florida Sunshine State Standards and provides students the opportunity to design aquaculture (fish-raising) systems, perform daily animal husbandry (care) routines and conduct research projects, such as salinity tolerance tests, feed studies and water quality/chemistry investigations.
Since this program began in 2001, more than 25 Florida schools from Miami to Pensacola have successfully reared red drum in the classroom. Currently, seven schools are participating statewide, and 500 red drum fingerlings were distributed. Some schools and educational facilities, including the Energy and Marine Center in Pasco County, can rear fish all year round in recirculating aquaculture systems.
To learn more about the program, or to refer a teacher or school, contact Gina.Russo@MyFWC.com.
The Duke Energy Mariculture Center in Crystal River is a multispecies hatchery that has cultivated and released more than 4.1 million fish and crustaceans since 1991. The center is designed to help protect and responsibly manage natural resources and contribute to the vitality of local communities. Each year, the center raises up to 100,000 redfish and spotted seatrout and releases them into the Gulf of Mexico to support year-round fishing.
Coastal Conservation Association Florida is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Florida’s marine resources. The purpose of CCA is to advise and educate the public on conservation of marine resources. The objective of CCA is to conserve, promote and enhance the present and future availability of those coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.