Horton Kicks Off New Aquaculture Class

Posted on: Monday, April 21st, 2014 by Brent Treash
Gary Horton is acting fishy, but since he is kicking off a new aquaculture class, he has every reason to.

Gary Horton is acting fishy, but since he is kicking off a new aquaculture class, he has every reason to.

Gary (E&H ’83) is an earth science teacher at Red Springs High School in Red Springs, N.C.  Shortly before the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year began his principal suggested that he expand one of his earth science projects into a full course.  He now has classroom full of enthusiastic students who are helping him launch this exciting new aquaculture program.

Their motto is “It takes a village to raise a child…it takes a school to raise a fish.”  Gary and his students are now overseeing an indoor mini fish farm that holds 400 gallons of water and 100 pounds of fish.  They’ve recently secured a donation of Tilapia, Hybrid Bass, and fresh water prongs.  They are in the process of designing an outdoor pond that will hold 1000 gallons of water for raising Hybrid Bass.

Gary has been very successful in securing donations and grant money to support the plan, and the students involved in this venture are the “brightest and best” at Red Springs.  He’s also collaborating with North Carolina A and T, Fayetteville State University, and North Carolina State University.

Their goal for the program is to acquaint students with not only the science of taking care of and breeding fish but also the business opportunities provided by the growing industry of aquafarming.

Red Springs High School is located in Robeson County, NC and the statistics for the student body are noteworthy: over half of their students are on food stamps, Robeson County has the highest unemployment rate in the state of North Carolina.  Fully 51% of their students are Native American, 33% are African American, and 13% are Hispanic.  Gary says this program gives students a chance to put their education to work on a project where they can see value and opportunity – not just homework.  And he hopes some of these students will see this as a means of putting their education to work after high school.

Gary joked in a recent newsletter that people keep dropping by his classroom and remarking that it smells like fish. He retorts with “What did you expect it to smell like? Cats and dogs?”   Hopefully, this will all smell like success for these bright students for whom Gary has worked so hard.