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Educator Externship at UWSP NADF

Sandy Naas
Agriculture/Natural Resources Teacher
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“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 good thing.


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 opportuniSandy Naas and ATSsized 2.jpgty 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


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