A successful 2nd year of aquaculture boot camp

By Dr. Hanping Wang
Senior Scientist 

The Ohio State University South Centers, in partnership with Ohio Aquaculture Association (OAA) and University of Wisconsin–SP (UWSP) and Wisconsin Aquaculture Association (WAA), have successfully completed the second year of Aquaculture Boot Camp-2 (ABC-2).

ABC-2 offers new and beginning farmers integrated training in aquaculture/aquaponic production and business management strategies 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 is the goal. 
The program offers a multi-faceted approach, including classroom and hands-on training, paired with industry mentoring to enhance the sustainability of new and beginning aquaculture/aquaponics and next generation farmers in the Midwest. ABC-2 completed 2018 goals on all the “3-I” levels. 

Intensive
Twenty-four monthly informative, educational modules and materials were developed in aquaculture/aquaponics and business/marketing in Ohio and Wisconsin in 2018. 
Each module was designed to coincide with seasonal activities on a typical aquaculture/aquaponic farm so that a participatory hands-on training event can simultaneously occur each month. 
Thirty and 35 new or beginning aquaculture/aquaponic farmers in Ohio and Wisconsin, respectively, were recruited in 2018 to participate in this intensive, hands-on aquaculture production and business training. Twenty-seven new and beginning farmers in Ohio, and 29 in Wisconsin, gained aquaculture/aquaponic production knowledge, business and marketing awareness and understanding, gained new perspectives, learned and practiced skills, and aspired to be more successful after completing the ABC-2 Intensive program. 

Intermediate 
We offered ABC-2 Intermediate level in 2018. This less-intensive training allowed participants to choose among the 12 monthly modules and three workshops, one conference, and one bus tour in both Ohio and Wisconsin. Four hands-on farm-based and classroom-based workshops were conducted by ABC- OAA/WAA. More than 200 additional new/beginning farmers in Ohio, and more than 395 in Wisconsin, were trained and mentored through ABC-2 Intermediate. 
A total of 198 and 108 people attended the OAA-ABC and WAA-ABC Annual Conferences, respectively. Thirty-one people attended the OAA Annual Bus Tour in Ohio. Forty combined students in Ohio and Wisconsin registered for the ABC-2 Intermediate program to participate in the online learning resources.

Introductory
Digital recordings of the ABC-2 Intensive training classes and practices were conducted and edited. An ABC-2 website was developed and has links to aquaculture information, podcasts, and updates of ABC-2 activities. Additionally, ABC-2 Introductory provides training and information through facility tours, individual and group counseling, phone, and email. Other than new farmers trained in Intensive and Intermediate programs, 76 people were trained through field days/farm visits/trips. There were 1,050 people who gained knowledge through visiting the ABC website, 871 people gained knowledge through our emails, and 172 people received support and information through the phone system.

Internship
The ABC, OAA, and WAA have established an internship program designed to provide apprentice-type training opportunities for new and beginning aquaculture farmers, and give established farmers a chance to mentor newcomers. Eight interns in Ohio and Wisconsin received training through ABC/OAA/WAA internship program in 2018. 

Mentoring Leadership and Guidance 
With the ABC program, the OAA and WAA provided mentoring leadership and guidance for new and small rural farmers. The activities included coordinating the ABC-2 mentoring and internship programs, providing an annual conference and bus tour of aquaculture farms, facilitating cooperation among new farmers and existing farmers, compiling and distributing information on aquaculture/aquaponics for new and small rural farmers, and creating and maintaining the ABC and OAA/WAA websites. ABC specialists worked together with OAA and UWSP/WAA staff to enhance OAA and WAA’s website, newsletters, and marketing strategies and opportunities. ABC-OAA’s and WAA’s annual conferences were organized, and eight issues of aquaculture/aquaponics newsletters were published in Ohio and Wisconsin in 2018.

These achievements were from multi-team efforts by OSU, OAA, UWSP, and WAA. Jordan Maxwell, ABC-2 Program Coordinator, coordinated all the ABC-2 activities in 2018. Matthew Smith, Jordan Maxwell, Brad Bergefurd, Chris Smalley, Christie Welch, Hannah Scott, Ivory Harlow, Brad Bapst, Ryan Mapes, Paul O’Bryant, Dean Rapp, and many non-OSU instructors/mentors taught ABC-2 students in 2018. Duane Rigsby and Sarah Swanson completed video recording and editing for all the classes and workshops and uploaded to the ABC website, and captured pictures of each exciting moment. 

Year 3 Perspective
The ABC Ohio Aquaculture, Business, and Marketing team and OAA have planned to foster more additional workshops, a bus tour, internships, and newsletters available to the Intermediate and Introductory ABC-2 students in 2019. ABC students in the future will plan to visit more aquaculture facilities. The ABC Wisconsin team and WAA have planned to continue all the “3-I” level classes workshops, bus tour, internships, and newsletters available to the Intensive, Intermediate, and Introductory ABC-2 students in Wisconsin in 2019. ABC students in the future will plan to visit more aquaculture facilities.