STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Aquaponics experts are gathering in Stevens Point to talk about the best ways to create environments for growing fish and plants together.
Eighteen-year-old Auburn, Calif.-native Pierre Beauchamp is one of the speakers at the International Aquaponics Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He told the Stevens Point Journal (http://spjour.nl/11R1Wbt) for a Friday report that he has been growing food and building different gardening systems for years. An aquaponics system he built in his high school is producing food for the school cafeteria and could be used as a model for others.
Beauchamp's advice is simple.
"Just get something going, just something small and then you'll learn right there," he said. "You'll figure out so many things you can't learn online or in books."
During his presentation, Beauchamp showed a video of a portable educational aquaponics system he built to teach how the system works. The system was made from supplies bought at a hardware store.
Stevens Point Area Senior High agriculture education teacher Ione Hausler said although she lacks proper knowledge of the aquaponic system, the school could build one in the future.
"The key thing to make it reality is the collaboration and time in order to allow it to happen," Hausler said. "If we get a clientele that says, 'Hey, we should pursue this', that's a possibility."
UW-Stevens Point has been leading in development of aquaponics education over the past few years. It was the first accredited university to offer semester-long aquaponics classes. Right now, students taking these classes can get hands-on training through partnership with a Montello-based company.
Biology Professor Chris Hartleb said the university is looking into offering a professional certificate in aquaponics over the next year.
"We talk about it and right now, that's kind of the stage we're at. The university should have an aquaponics system," he said. "We're limited in space around the campus, plus we have to find the funding to actually build it."