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I arrived on the beautiful island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands with a keen interest in being out of the 40 degree temperatures in the West Virginia mountains. This was definitely satiated by the warm, sunny island life and a lack of air conditioning in my small apartment.

Before beginning my time at UVI, I took on the task of designing a survey to understand how participants from UVI’s short course on aqauponics were applying the knowledge they gained and assess what implications these results could have when addressing barriers to widespread adoption in the industry. It took quite a while to get everything on track, which included picking a random sample from the 600+ participants that have come to the USVI to take the course, dealing with email addresses that were no longer active and poor response rates (because everyone ignores email surveys!).

During that time though, I was able to get some great experience working with the field crew at the agriculture experiment station on the St. Croix campus of UVI. I assisted with seeding, transplanting, harvesting and maintenance of the aquaponic system. It was great to explore the famed system, the design which many producers replicate to produce great results all over the world. My favorite activity by far was the collection of tilapia eggs which I did not manage to get a picture of due to rain and not wanting to get my camera soaked. Tilapia are “mouth brooders” because they store fertilized eggs in their mouths to incubate the eggs in a safe environment until they are ready to be hatched. This meant that we had act like “tilapia dentists” and open up the mouths of the fish to find the eggs which would go into a separate rearing tank to be hatched. It was quite the experience to open up a fish’s mouth and find tons of tiny eggs.

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