Southwest High School Aquaculture Program Combines Innovative Learning with Philanthropy

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Although temperatures may be frigid outside and there is snow on the ground, there are signs of life in the Southwest High School greenhouse, thanks to the thriving aquaculture program that began 12 years ago. Aquaculture is a growing industry that refers to the breeding, rearing and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments. Currently in Southwest’s greenhouse, students are manipulating greenhouse temperatures to grow geraniums, and working on spawning bluegills and perch. Students are also using the water from fish to fertilize the plants in the greenhouse, which in turn cleans the water for the fish. They are also researching ways to improve the greenhouse piping system to better fertilize tomatoes and peppers.

Students have also been working with locally owned Holy Grail Vineyard on grape propagation research and development. For the next two years, agriscience students will compare organic rooting hormones from the vineyard with other hormones on the market. This research will be conducted in a variety of classes to help students become engaged in product research and development, and Holy Grail will support the program by helping to develop a small sustainable vineyard in Southwest’s outdoor land lab this spring.

For Southwest students, the aquaculture program provides a unique learning environment in a hands-on, inquiry based setting. Students are also taught the importance of giving back to the community, as one of the program’s goals is to grow produce that can be donated to local food pantries.

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