By Dr. Hanping Wang, Senior Scientist and Matthew A. Smith, Extension Aquaculture Specialist
The Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development (OCARD) at the Ohio State University (OSU) South Centers, in partnership with Ohio Aquaculture Association (OAA), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), and other partners have received an award of ~$600,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) to develop and operate the 2nd Aquaculture Boot Camp (ABC-2). The USDA Secretary announced our funded project, along with 26 other awards in August. The ABC-2 program willutilize a “3-I” (Intensive, Intermediate, Introductory) training and multi-faceted approach, including classroom and hands-on training, paired with industry mentoring to enhance the sustainability of new and beginning aquaculture/aquaponic and next generation farmers in the Midwest. OCARD was the first aquaculture unit to receive this type of project from the USDA. The specific goals of the ABC-2 program will be achieved through collaborations among aquaculture, horticulture, and business teams at the South Centers, and partnerships with four nongovernmental and community-based organizations, two agricultural colleges, and six aqua-farms.
The 3-year ABC-2 project will serve the following Target Audience in Ohio and the Midwest:
- Beginning and new aquaculture/aquaponic farmers with less than 10 years of farming experience.
- Limited-resource beginning aqua-farmers: most aqua-farmers have low levels of farm sales and low household income, as most of them are new and located in rural areas.
- Next generation farmers: students and those without a family farming history.
- Other new farmers attempting to diversify their existing farming enterprise.
ABC-2 will utilize a modified model of the successful Phase 1 Aquaculture Boot Camp developed and delivered over the past three years by our team. During ABC-2, we will offer new and next generation farmers three levels of involvement, three topic areas and three types of integrated training in aquaculture/aquaponic production and business management strategies. The three levels of participation are: Intensive, an in-depth level involving immersion in a year-long hands-on training and classroom/mentoring program; Intermediate, a mid-level involving participation in a variety of learning activities and workshops; and Introductory, a general or entry level where sharing of information is the goal, and involving participation in the ABC-2 online education and webinars. The three areas which will be covered are general/traditional aquaculture, recirculating aquaculture/aquaponics, and related business and marketing. The three types of instruction are hands-on, classroom/mentoring, and internet/webinar.
Up to 30 highly motivated new (less than 10 years of farming experience) and beginning fish farmers and aquaponic producers from across Ohio and the Midwest will be enlisted in the Intensive Boot Camp program. Recruits will be individuals actively involved in aquaculture/aquaponics or seriously dedicated to developing skills for entry into the industry.
Applications for participation in the program will be accepted until the close of business on November 4th and applications can be found at go.osu.edu/abc2. For more information about the ABC-2 program, please contact Sarah Strausbaugh at email@example.com. After October 30th, our new ABC-2 Program Coordinator Jordan Maxwell will be available to field your questions at 740.289.2071 x124.