Aquaculture North America

One-of-a-kind learning experience

June 12, 2019
By ANA staff

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has a unique workforce development program that utilizes a state-of-the-art research facility known as the UWSP Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (UWSP NADF).

UWSP student Brianna Dunbar showing Atlantic salmon from the first cohort ever harvested from a land-based aquaculture facility in the US The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has a unique workforce development program

The research facility, along with the UWSP aqua-business education courses, incorporate key concepts for educating a skilled workforce, including hands-on experience and applied learning. Through industry applied research projects, students work alongside expert staff to raise a variety of species at all life stages in various systems. This opportunity is achieved through internships and technician positions to create a unique and qualified skillset, which is recognized by industry partners, leading to job placement rates of over 90 percent.

UWSP graduate Brandon Gottsacker is overseeing the largest aquaponics system in the world, as president of Superior Fresh, LLC. The Hixton, Wisconsin-based company is also the first in the US to raise Atlantic salmon to market size in recirculating aquaculture systems. “UW-Stevens Point guided me towards this exciting young industry by providing me unique opportunities to learn about aquaculture,” said Gottsacker. He and his team have partnered with the UWSP Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility for research, technical assistance, demonstration and cold-water species expertise to advance their facility and operations. UW-Stevens Point is also partnering with others to provide interns, technicians and further support staff. “UWSP has rigorous curriculum in biology, fisheries and aquaculture. I am confident in hiring students that attended UWSP,” Gottsacker added.

As part of a grant-funded project to advance aquaculture and aquaponics workforce development, UW-Stevens Point and industry partners were able to accept six internships in 2018. The UWSP students were stationed at various facilities including UWSP NADF, UWSP Aquaponics Innovation Center, USFWS National Fish Hatchery and Superior Fresh, LLC. Student Brianna Dunbar had the opportunity to intern at Superior Fresh. “This facility is on the cutting edge of recirculating aquaculture and aquaponics technology. I was able to assist with practices unique to Superior Fresh and participate in the first ever harvest of land-based Atlantic salmon in the US,” said Dunbar. Upon graduation, Dunbar will be continuing her path in aquaculture with Superior Fresh. “This was an amazing experience for me and through this internship I discovered what I want to do for a career.”

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