McGuffey SD starts aquaponics program
K-12 students in McGuffey SD are getting hands-on learning experiences from the district’s new aquaponics system at Joe Walker Elementary School. The system features a closed-loop sustainable farming system where a variety of greenhouse plants are fertilized by the water in a large tank that sustains tilapia. The fruit and vegetable plants, in turn, filter the water, which is pumped back into the fish tanks. The fish and the plants are dependent on each other for survival. More than 30 students at Joe Walker and Claysville Elementary schools and McGuffey Middle School/High School were trained in operating the greenhouse system and also in how to train their peers. But all students from kindergarten on up have a hand in keeping it running. Some feed the fish, or raise worms and some are planning a tilapia breeding station and working on increasing efficiency. Skills such as chemistry, computer science and health all come into play. But the benefits aren’t just academic – the elementary school recently had a fish fry to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The Joe Walker greenhouse was funded by several grants, including a Highmark for Healthy Eating grant, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) grant, and a grant from the Washington County Community Foundation.