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weighing and measuring Atlantic salmon

Partnering to Boost Aquaculture Workforce Development in Wisconsin


“Where do we find young people interested in producing fish for food?” This is one of the most pressing concerns that Wisconsin food-fish farmers expressed in a recent needs assessment conducted by Wisconsin Sea Grant. To address this food security and workforce issue, collaborators from the University of Wisconsin campuses of Madison, Stevens Point and Milwaukee are cooperating with commercial fish farms and high schools, colleges and universities with existing aquaculture programs to expand training opportunities for students across the state. The opportunities range from farm experiences and skill-building workshops to support for teams engaging in an annual aquaculture competition.  

Donation of Walleye to Bayfield Middle School
Bayfield middle school students stocking walleye, donated by UWSP Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility, into their aquaculture system to support education and workforce development.


This project will include the following activities:

1. Cataloging, summarizing and comparing existing aquaponic and aquaculture training programs and curricula in the state

2. Developing a workforce outreach and recruitment strategy and materials

3. Conducting aquaculture outreach, education and recruitment at schools and public events

4. Providing and supporting aquaculture training opportunities for young adults

5. Evaluating the success of the project in creating greater awareness about aquaculture, careers in aquaculture and growing the aquaculture industry’s workforce in Wisconsin. The participation of underrepresented people working in aquaculture and related industries is essential to the success of this project and to supporting equity and inclusion in Wisconsin.

Ashland High School tours UWSP NADF
UWSP Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility provides interactive tours for students, which includes fish sampling demonstrations, to support aquaculture education and workforce development.


This project’s primary deliverables are a strengthened network of aquaculture training programs and broader public awareness about careers in aquaculture. Additional outcomes and deliverables include:

  1. A summary and comparison of existing aquaculture training programs in Wisconsin.
  2. At least 5 new Wisconsin entries in The Aquaculture Challenge for high-school groups.
  3. Young fish farmer/fish processor outreach and recruitment materials.
  4. At least 6 “fish farm experience,” 10-week positions available for young adults.
  5. Website articles about summer farm experiences.
  6. Wisconsin fish farmer/fish processor branded shirts as workforce retention incentives.
  7. Four workshops/clinics to provide additional training for fish farmers, trainees and the broader food-fish industry.
  8. Reporting: extension article, final report, presentation(s) at a professional meeting.

These outcomes and deliverables will be directly and beneficially applied to the current and future needs of communities and businesses involved in food fish production. To aid future recruitment and retention efforts, templates for all materials will be made available to the regions’ businesses during and after the project. The additional workshop/clinics will be open to people beyond just those participating in this workforce development project.