The Merrill FFA chapter is piloting a program to raise fish at Merrill High School to increase learning opportunities in aquaculture.
The “Perch in the Classroom” project was established with the help of Genoa National Fish Hatchery (GNFH) in Genoa, WI. GNFH was looking to build on the success of its Sturgeon in the Classroom project for elementary and middle school students, while creating a program geared toward high school students.
The Perch in the Classroom program was designed to allow high school classes to set up and oversee the growth and development of yellow perch in a re-circulating aquaculture system in their classroom.
Merrill High School’s new agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor Brigid Reimann had previously worked with GNFH while teaching in Tomah. She expressed enthusiasm for piloting the Perch in the Classroom program at MHS.
Quote - Why were you exited to bring the program to MHS?
I was very excited to bring this program to MHS because nothing like this has ever been done before at MHS and I think it will get students excited to learn more about agriculture.
GNFH supplied two culture tanks, fish, food and fish culture knowledge, while Reimann supplied a heater, pumps and pipes. She also enlisted the help of two of her students, Ben Sosnovske and Tanner Pettit, for the construction of the aquaculture system. By November, the system was up and running and stocked with yellow perch.
“This is good news for Genoa as we continue to try to connect with our nation’s youth and develop techniques that conveys the importance of fish culture as both a commercial industry and a tool for environmental management,” noted GNFH fish biologist Jorge Buening.
Reimann reported that the fish are doing well at MHS.
“The perch are doing great, they are eating and growing a little more each day,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how big they get!”
The main areas of study at MHS that will be involved in the Perch Project will be the Wildlife and Animals courses.
“I think that maybe in the future it would be very beneficial to offer an Aquaculture course, seeing how we live in area so abundant with many different varieties of aquatic species,” Reimann said. “This project gives students the opportunity to experience raising a fish from fingerling to adult while evaluating and determining how to set up the optimal environment. It will also open students to new facet of agriculture.”
The Merrill FFA chapter is hoping to have fish fry fundraiser when the perch reach full size.