Youth outreach is an important aspect of UF/IFAS Extension and the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory (TAL). Educating young people about the ornamental fish industry within Florida and their practices and protocols is essential to strengthening our local and global communities. University of Florida (UF) aquaculture faculty including extension faculty at TAL developed a curriculum designed for teaching children the basics of aquaculture called Teach Aquaculture. This program can be accessed through the UF EDIS website.
TAL extension also currently partners with the Florida Aquaculture Association (FAA) in the development and dissemination of an aquaculture certification program for high school students. The curriculum allows agriculture accredited high schools the ability to certify students in aquaculture techniques and best management practices (BMPs).
Every year the TAL hosts the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Aquaculture Career Development Event. In this competition, the top middle and high school teams from around the state of Florida are tested on their knowledge of Florida’s aquaculture industry. Teams may be required to give a presentation based on a given aquaculture topic, identify aquatic species, analyze water quality, design and troubleshoot aquaculture systems, identify aquatic diseases, pests and predators and propose potential treatments.
TAL extension also participates in Ag-Venture; a field trip for Hillsborough County 3rd graders that uses interactive presentations to demonstrate where food comes from and the impact agriculture has on their lives. Ag-Venture currently serves over 6000 students per year.
Events throughout the year, including the Florida State Fair also allow TAL extension faculty to reach out to youth to share information about Florida aquaculture.