“When I started teaching Agriculture at Ashland
High School eight years ago, I could never have imagined where it would take
me. Prior to teaching, I was in Ag industry working in soil and water
conservation, wildlife habitat management, forestry, and construction site
erosion control. My UWSP education prepared me well for all of these
ventures. With the variety of classes offered at AHS, however, I knew I
would need some outside help. Aquaculture is one of those classes.
I knew Greg Fischer, now the Facility Manager at NADF, from earlier in my
career. I had no idea what NADF was or that it even existed. He
encouraged me to bring my class to NADF for a tour. I thought this
would be one of those tours students don’t remember – but was I wrong!
From the moment you step in the facility,
you feel the excitement about the facility and the research being done and want
to be part of it. I was hooked on aquaculture from that moment on.
So are many of the students I have brought through over the past eight
years. The tour is interesting and there is always a hands-on component
that really solidifies what students see. The addition of Educator Emma
Wiermaa to facility staff has allowed NADF to branch out and become part of the
schools – kids remember people and the messages they bring; this has been a
The facility staff has been invaluable to me as
a practicing aquaculturist, helping our school build the program and our own
aquaponics system through a grant from AgStar Financial. Our students
learn how to design every component of the system and continuously monitor to
make sure it is in good order. Understanding water quality parameters,
common diseases, water management, and animal nutrition are all part of the
coursework students practice at AHS.
This summer I have the opportunity to learn even
more about aquaculture by participating in the Educator Externship Program
through Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. The program gives
educators an opportunity to be part of industry for 40 hours in return for a
small stipend. NADF agreed to take me on and I’ve already assisted
with three different research projects with more to come as the summer goes on.
I will bring these experiences back to my students and hopefully ignite
their excitement about fish. UWSP’s Northern Aquaculture Demonstration
Facility is a vital resource for northern Wisconsin and the Aquaculture
industry and is inspiring a new generation of aquaculture enthusiasts.”
-Sandra Dee (Sandy) Naas
Ag Teacher / FFA Advisor, Ashland High School