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FFA brings aqualab to Mackay High School

By the year 2050, we could have nine billion people in this world to feed. Who is looking ahead to this challenge? The Mackay High School FFA class, for one.

These Future Farmers of America are raising fish in the high school shop class. What they’re learning could eventually help all of us.

Colt Kraczek and Kobe Marinac are sophomores at Mackay HS, and very involved in the ‘fish in the classroom’ program offered by Idaho Fish and Game. They’re especially excited about the talapia fish they’re raising.

“They can jump like crazy!” says Kraczek with a smile.

“Talapia grow really fast,” adds, Marinac. “We’ve had some babies for a few weeks go from half a cup to two cups feed a day. They’re eating big food now. They grow fast! A lot can be raised in a small space and they do just fine. And they live in a wide temperature range of water, so they survive in a lot of climates. You can mass produce them easily and it makes a lot of food,” says Marinac.

The little fish lab in the shop class has 500 rainbow trout, 400 cutthroat, and they’re trying to get mosaic rainbow trouts too.

“They’ve got a beautiful blue back on them,” explains agriculture science teacher Trent VanLeuven. “This project teaches the students animal husbandry. We teach animal identification. We have micro chips and a micro chip scanner. So the students can track these fish for individual growth and data,” adds VanLeuven.

“It also gives them the opportunity to see future careers. By 2050, there will be 9 billion people in the world to feed. If you feed a talapia 1.2 pounds of feed it produces 1 pound of product. So that feed conversion is so much better than you’ll see in livestock. So if we’re going to feed protein to all those people, fish is a really good alternative . There’s a lot of excitement about fish,” says VanLeuven enthusiastically.

There’s no telling where these students can take this knowledge when they graduate from high school. Kraczek says, ” I want to be a bio engineer.”

No law says bright kids that lead us into the future have to come from a big high school. There are 35 students in Mackay High. Most are involved in FFA.

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