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My extension program provides leadership in aquaculture production of fish and crustaceans, both marine and freshwater, and various related fields. This program has developed as a logical extension of my research program and professional experience. Deliverables for my program include development and delivery of educational materials and presentations. Additionally, I facilitate the transfer of current research results and issues to stakeholders, including current and potential aquaculture producers, extension and sea grant agents, county and city administrators and staff, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The aquaculture products I deal directly with include food and bait fish, food and bait shrimp, aquaculture production systems including ponds, cages, and recirculating aquaculture systems, live feeds for larval fish and crustaceans, and algae production. This program is divided into two focus areas, one to disseminate new opportunities for producers to diversify and improve their economic efficiency, a second to develop and implement an aquaculture curriculum in middle and high schools.

Program Focus Area 1:

Expanding Knowledge about Aquaculture and New Opportunities and Technologies Available to Current and Potential Producers

Situation:

In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that 46.4% of the seafood consumed in the world was cultured. The scale of world aquaculture production is not well known by the general public in the United States because production is dominated by other countries. In Florida, there is a great deal of interest in aquaculture and in diversification of traditional agriculture. The potential for integration of aquaculture production in ponds, cages within the ponds, or in recirculating tank systems within existing farms is strong. Many traditional agriculturists in Florida have the required natural resources of climate, water, and land to initiate production of various aquatic organisms. Current aquaculture producers are always interested in determining methods to improve the margin on their crops by implementing new techniques and to diversify the number of species they produce. Commonly, producers will successfully culture an aquatic organism but they do not know the optimal culture methods and parameters to maximize their production. Most producers are not able to properly evaluate various culture conditions in replicated studies. Therefore, applied research I conduct is critical to producers so they can improve the efficiency and profit margin of their aquaculture farms. Both current and potential producers need accurate information to make informed business decisions. To provide clients the best possible information I use existing extension literature, develop new extension publications, develop and maintain websites, give presentations to stakeholders, county and sea grant faculty, state agencies, students of all ages, and city and county officials.

Program Objectives:
  1. Educate producers, allied industry, and county extension and sea grant faculty about research and demonstration results on new aquatic species with production potential through extension meetings, in-service trainings, and extension publications.
  2. To inform candidate producers about aquaculture as a potential business venture by disseminating accurate information including verbal, written, and electronic documents.
  3. Conduct applied research projects to answer critical questions for producers.

Program Focus Area 2:

Development and Implementation of an Aquaculture Curriculum in Middle and High Schools

Situation:

In 2007-2008, there were approximately 18 middle and high schools in Florida which had a formal aquaculture program certified by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Aquaculture. The teachers who led these programs did not have a curriculum which efficiently met the required Florida Sunshine State Standards. Additionally, there was great interest by many schools to develop an aquaculture program but their principal or districts could not allow them to do so without having a curriculum to implement. Therefore, I put together a team to develop an aquaculture curriculum which met the required Sunshine State Standards. Then we recruited and educated teachers about aquaculture and how to implement the curriculum into their classrooms. This project was funded by the Florida Aquaculture Review Council 2008-2009.

Program Objectives:
  1. Develop a curriculum on aquaculture and the aquatic sciences for middle and high schools in Florida which meets Sunshine State Standards.
  2. Recruit teachers to implement the curriculum and teach them about aquaculture and how to implement the curriculum in their classrooms.
  3. Increase the number of middle and high schools in Florida which have an aquaculture program and teachers who use aquaculture activities in their classrooms.
  4. Inform the next generation about aquaculture by providing their teachers a curriculum.
Educational Efforts or Activities:

I led the development of a curriculum on aquaculture and the aquatic sciences for middle and high schools in Florida. This curriculum is titled “Teach Aquaculture” and is divided into seven modules. Each module consists of classroom activities with detailed instructions, supporting extension documents, assessments, and powerpoint presentations. There are a total of 24 activities in the seven modules which we developed. Each activity was reviewed by a group of teachers who have an aquaculture program in a middle or high school and each was beta tested by 50 teachers at an associated workshop held by a scientist with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University. A website was developed to disseminate the Teach Aquaculture curriculum (http://irrec.ifas.ufl.edu/teachaquaculture/). Users are required to create a username and password, then all information the user downloads is automatically recorded. This allows us to determine how many users there are worldwide and provides contact information for follow-up evaluations to determine the effectiveness of each module.

Site maintained by Dr.Cortney Ohs, Ph.D.
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