Last month, Yuba Water Agency employees Kaitlyn Chow, Creighton Avila and Jackie Sillman visited Yuba County Career Preparatory Charter School’s Aquaponics Department to discuss with students potential career paths in the water industry and how those relate to their current coursework.
High school students involved in the Aquaponics Department are learning to build a self-supporting system that incorporates fisheries aquatics, agriculture, wastewater management and water reuse. The hands-on program gives them experience in constructing aquariums, monitoring water quality, experimenting with various plant species and troubleshooting problems with the hydrology, botany and system design.
“This is a great program that directly relates to potential career pathways in the water industry that could prove deficient in the coming years,” Chow said. “The importance of hands-on programs like this is that they get students interested in these things for them to further pursue.”
After seeing the projects the students were working on, Yuba Water staff took the opportunity to connect the foundational skills that they’re learning to potential career opportunities in water treatment and operations, engineering, construction, agriculture and environmental science and trade jobs such as plumbing or carpentry.
Aquaponics combines the practice of raising fish in tanks with the method of growing plants in a soilless environment. It uses the nutrients that fish release in the form of excrement and respiration as both water and fertilizer for plant species. Water not used by the plants gets recycled into a secondary aquarium containing different fish species. Those fish then take in any excess nutrients remaining in the water to be better be used by the original fish species to start the process over again. Interest in aquaponics has grown in recent years due to its compact design, water-saving potential and environmental sustainability.
Aquaponics is a three-year program that is offered to high school-level students at Yuba County Career Preparatory Charter School as part of its career technical education courses.