Aquaculture workshop for teachers a success

[USA] On Feb. 21 ten coastal Maine teachers were given the opportunity to attend a full day workshop on incorporating aquaculture education into their classroom.  The workshop was jointly developed by Hurricane Island Foundation, the Island Institute, and Herring Gut Learning Center, and with generous funding from the Maine EPSCoR program.

Teachers from Casco Bay to all the way Down East convened at Herring Gut Learning Center’s campus in Port Clyde for a day of immersion in the field of aquaculture with the goal of developing strategies for incorporating it into their curricula.  The workshop was the result of the increased recognition aquaculture is receiving in the state of Maine as a viable option for coastal communities to maintain a robust economy with diversification into fields other than commercial fishing.  Aquaculture is an opportunity for coastal residents to continue a long heritage of working on the water by using a similar set of skills and equipment, while becoming less reliant on the uncertainty of wild stocks.

During the workshop, teachers were presented with an overview of aquaculture in Maine and worldwide and went on a tour of Herring Gut’s aquaculture facilities, which includes a commercial aquaponics fish hatchery and greenhouse and a micro-scale kelp farm.  Dr. Jenn Page from Hurricane Island then led a work session on developing and adapting aquaculture lessons to meet state and national education standards.

Teachers received hands-on experience from Herring Gut educators Ann Boover and Alex Brasili related to seaweed aquaculture by participating in activities that they might incorporate into their classroom lessons, including seaweed identification, learning the anatomy and adaptations of kelp, and observing phytoplankton under the microscope.  Lunch included many seaweed-themed offerings including kelp pretzels, kelp crunch granola bars, and seaweed and cucumber salad.

The day concluded with a larger conversation and opportunity for teachers to network and plan with each other about how they envision incorporating aquaculture at their schools. There was also a brief discussion about utilising an online grader as part of the school education curriculum as well to save on time, money and resources when it comes to marking student papers. Yvonne Thomas, Education Director at the Island Institute and workshop coordinator explains, “Teachers appreciated having some time to take what they learned during the workshop and get to work planning next steps for aquaculture education at their schools.”


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