Eastern Oklahoma State College is a state leader in teaching aquaponics, a sustainable agriculture method of growing all-natural produce and fish using a re-circulating water system. Eastern partnered with Symbiotic Aquaponic, a nationally recognized and award-winning company, to install an aquaponics system in the college's 2,880-square-foot greenhouse. The greenhouse serves as a living laboratory for students in horticulture, agriculture education, agronomy and forestry classes. 

Continuing Education & Certificate Courses

Eastern and Symbiotic Aquaponic offer one-day certificate courses throughout the year. The course provides an introduction to aquaponic topics such as system designs, scientific principles of aquaponics and the selection of plant and fish species. Participants engage in classroom discussions and hands-on experience in Eastern’s greenhouse. All course materials are provided on the day of the class. Participants also sample produce from the aquaponic greenhouse for lunch.

Aquaponics Certificate Course
9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Cost is $129 (special group rates are available for groups of four or more)
Online registration and payment is available at www.symbioticaquaponic.com.

What is Aquaponics?

Dr. Kaben Smallwood, professor of business administration and co-owner of Symbiotic Aquaponic, describes aquaponics as an innovative approach to farming that allows for year-round production in a greenhouse environment such as Eastern’s.

“Water from the fish habitat provide all the necessary nutrients for growing a variety of plants and as a result, the plants clean the water for the fish. The habitat contains natural bacteria that helps convert the fish waste into food for plants,” Smallwood said. “Aquaponics is 100 percent sustainable, uses less than 1/95th the amount of water required by traditional farming and can provide higher crop yields than traditional farming. In this system, plants have all the water and nutrients they want because they do not have to compete for limited water or nutrient resources. This eliminates the need for additives, fertilizers and other chemicals.”

Rather than soil, aquaponics utilizes grow media, a combination of expanded shale and clay. The material provides for greater water retention, which improves the college’s water conservation efforts.

Students in Eastern’s horticulture, agriculture education, agronomy and forestry classes are currently getting a hands-on educational experience by maintaining the six aquaponics beds in the new greenhouse. The students utilize the aquaponics beds for research and experiments, as well as for propagation for vegetable and bedding plant sales to the public. Future possibilities may include providing fresh, organic produce for use on campus.