The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education Center on Disability Studies, in partnership with the Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) unit and the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, are working together to develop an entry-level industry aquaponics technician certification curriculum designed to include all youth in transition headed for natural resources production career pathways after high school.

The innovative pilot CTE curriculum is aligned to industrial-recognized aquaponics standards and food safety best practices to lead students to entry-level employment in aquaculture job sectors. While still in high school, students will begin to gain access to competitive wage earning careers in commercial aquaponics farm production or starting their own family agribusiness.

“The CTE aquaponics technician pathway and its use of universal design for learning provides inclusive opportunity to support the diverse needs of all youth in transition gaining skills to enter the workforce,” said JoAnn Yuen, incoming director of the UH Mānoa Center on Disability Studies.

“Hawaiʻi employs less than 10 percent of individuals with disabilities. We need to raise expectations and self-determination through workforce development and self-employment projects such as the CTE aquaponics technician training curriculum,” added Yuen,

More on aquaponics

Aquaponics is a soilless farming method in which plants are fertilized by water infused with nutrient-filled fish waste. Aquaponics systems funnel old water from fish tanks into water tanks containing plants such as produce. The plants absorb nutrients from the old fish tank water, essentially filtering waste from the water before it is released back into fish tanks.

Aquaponics as an emerging food production industry has a range of hands-on, entry-level skills sets, which are flexible in engaging unserved and underserved adult learners many with histories of chronic underemployed and unemployment outside the competitive job market.

For the full story, read the Center on Disability Studies news release.