The Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development (OCARD) at The Ohio State University South Centers have received three awards since 2012 from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop and deliver the Aquaculture/Aquaponics Boot Camp (ABC) program for training new and beginning aquafarmers in production and business in Ohio, Midwest and Appalachia. This has been a joint effort of the Aquaculture, Business Development and Marketing teams at OSU South Centers.
The ultimate goal of the ABC program is to utilize a multi-faceted approach, including classroom and hands-on training paired with industry mentoring, to improve the success rate of new and beginning aquaculture farmers. This has been accomplished through the establishment and delivery of an ABC in which participants gain the skills and knowledge required to successfully own and operate an aquafarm. The ABC Program:
- Provides tools for new and beginning farmers to enhance their aquaculture/aquaponic production success by developing and delivering production curriculum and hands-on practices.
- Enhances the financial viability and business success of beginning aquafarmers by delivering business management and marketing strategies.
- Strengthens success of new and beginning aquafarmers through the ABC mentorship and partnership with the industry.
ABC offers the integrated training with "3-I" levels: Intensive, an in-depth level involving immersion in a year-long hands-on training and mentoring program; Intermediate, a mid-level involving participation in a variety of learning activities; and Introductory, a general level where sharing of information was the goal.