College, Sea Grant team up for mobile lab in USA

A Carteret Community College faculty member and one of his students are working with N.C. Sea Grant staff to build a mobile aquaculture lab to expand outreach to high school students.

David Cerino, aquaculture department chairman at the community college, and Tommy McArthur, a 40-year-old student, are building the mobile lab with the help of N.C. Sea Grant Coastal Economics Specialist Dr. Jane Harrison, Marine Education Specialist Terri Kirby Hathaway and Marine Aquaculture Specialist Dr. Chuck Weirich.

According to Dr. Harrison, the state Sea Grant branch partnered with the community college to receive a $19,900 National Sea Grant College Program grant, offered from within the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for developing mariculture education resources for high school sciences, career and technical education teachers in coastal North Carolina.

“I saw a need to have visual and tactile displays at outreach events in order to get youth engaged in learning about aquaculture,” Mr. Cerino said.

Mr. McArthur, who plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree from N.C. State University after he graduates Mr. Cerino’s class in December, currently works at the university’s marine aquaculture research center near Marshallberg. He also owns his own oyster lease and has experience with catfish aquaculture.

Mr. McArthur said he’s enjoyed CCC’s program and “sees a great need and purpose for the mobile laboratory.”

“If they had a program like this when I was in high school, it would have made a difference for me,” he said. “I would be farther ahead on my career.”

The lab is being built using a refurbished utility trailer. Mr. Cerino said it will have modular displays, including a fully operational, small-scale recirculating aquaculture system to demonstrate land-based finfish production methods. It will also have a shellfish aquaculture display and a flat screen monitor for videos.

“The Carteret Community College Aquaculture program is contributing the trailer and some of the equipment,” Mr. Cerino said. “Funding from the NOAA grant will refurbish the trailer and purchase additional equipment and supplies. Grant funds are also paying for labor to assemble the trailer and systems.”

Mr. Cerino said they intend to finish building the mobile lab by Thursday, May 31. Dr. Harrison said they’ll use it for a teacher workshop scheduled for late July in Morehead City.

“The aquaculture demonstration mobile laboratory will provide students and teachers hands-on experiences with cultured animals and systems,” she said. “It will include modular shellfish and finfish recirculating culture systems. It will be suited for both indoor and outdoor events.”

Dr. Harrison said the mobile lab will provide teachers with models that could be developed in their own classrooms.

“It’s being modeled after innovated education production products,” she said, “like the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Agri-Pride Simulator and the N.C. Soil and Water Conservation District’s Mobile Soils Classroom.”

Dr. Weirich said having a strong line of high school students with science and technical knowledge interested in aquaculture is important to sustaining the aquaculture industry.

“They may then build their career through programs at community colleges and universities,” he said.

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