Students tour Aquaculture Research Station during field trip

LSU AgCenter researcher Robert Romaire explains the difference between different kinds of crawfish to fourth-grade students from Amite Elementary School at an Aquaculture Education Day for Louisiana science teachers and students at the AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station May 2. (Photo by Johnny Morgan.)

Fourth-grade students from Amite Elementary School were among dozens of school children who toured the LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station as part of Aquaculture Education Day for Louisiana science teachers and students May 2.

“This is an outreach effort that the station faculty is making in response to the interest we’ve seen in tours of our facility in recent years,” said station director Robert Reigh.

“For some time we have been providing tours of the station at the end of each academic year for agriculture and science teachers who have requested them as field-trip opportunities for their classes,” Reigh said. “This year we decided to organize a tour day specifically for them and invited their participation.”

The tour included visits to laboratories where AgCenter scientists conduct research on catfish, oysters, alligators, baitfish, turtles, a variety of freshwater game fish and crawfish. Students also heard about work being done at the station on developing improved plants for coastal restoration.

The education day was part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education program offered as a partnership between the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Education. It is centered on enriching the state’s pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade programs, according to the state department.

“This allows us to incorporate more math and science into our classes,” said Amite Elementary science teacher Theresa Steward.

The field trip was part of the school’s program to get students interested in careers, Steward said. “At the end of the year, they will write about ‘what I want to be when I grow up.’ This kind of activity gives them hands-on exposure.”

Steward said the next field trip will be to NASA in Mississippi.

“All of the available time slots at the aquaculture station were filled long ago, which shows the continued interest in facilities such as ours and the work done here,” Reigh said.

Students toured the station’s research labs, heard about the work being done there and learned about aquaculture in Louisiana and elsewhere.

“We learned about organisms and fish and how they make hybrids,” said student John Edwards. “I learned a lot of stuff.”

Student Alexi Richardson said she learned about crawfish, alligators and how much they eat, and catfish and got to hold a baby alligator.

“It was very cool,” she said.

Rick Bogren