Teachers attending the 2015 Ag Biotech Academy took a field trip to Freshwater Farms in Urbana, Ohio. This facility has been in operation for over 30 years, raising rainbow trout, yellow perch, and freshwater shrimp. Ohio has over 300 fish farms, but this is the largest indoor fish hatchery in the state.

Dr. David Smith runs Freshwater Farms, and he’s passionate about the value of STEM education. He likes to have school groups visit his facility. “Hands-on activities give kids opportunities to ask questions,” Smith said. “We can address the nature deficit I see with kids by having them here.”

Over 90% of the seafood in the United States is imported. Aquaculture provides 60% of the world’s seafood. Freshwater Farms and many other fish farms use a grain-based diet based on soybeans, which are high in protein. Fish waste can be used for fertilizer for plants and the water can be recycled, which reduces discharge. Fish require less feed and less water than cattle, so they are easier on the environment.

Kelly Lewis, a bioscience technologies teacher in Gahanna Jefferson Schools said the fish farm visit could lead to interesting problem-solving activities using lab skills. “We could test to determine the nutritional content of the fish feed. If altered, how would that affect growth rate? We could also test water quality and its affect on the fish.”