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GHS students' aquaponics project making waves
by Coy Slavik, Advance-Guard Editor
May 07, 2014 | 211 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Goliad High School’s aquaponics team from left, Sara Pnacek, Ian McClellan and Carolyn Swize pose  in front of their project that has raised eyebrows across the state.
Goliad High School’s aquaponics team from left, Sara Pnacek, Ian McClellan and Carolyn Swize pose in front of their project that has raised eyebrows across the state.
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GOLIAD – Three Goliad High School students are doing their part to find a way to solve worldwide hunger and water shortages.

Sara Pnacek, Ian McClellan and Carolyn Swize have devised an aquaponics system that has earned praise at agriculture shows statewide. The FFA project combines raising fish with cultivating plants in water. Water from the fish tank is fed to the plants, which filter and utilize the excretions from the fish. The water is then recirculated back to the fish tank, which symbolizes an aquaculture system.

The trio received blue ribbons for their project at the San Angelo, San Antonio and Houston livestock shows and also at events in Brenham and Kingsville. The students was won reserve champion honors for showmanship in San Angelo, took second in Houston and fourth in San Antonio.

“The national FFA initiative is to find an end to hunger, so they have started pushing the chapters in the entire nation on how to feed people and conserve water,” said GHS FFA advisor Dawn Butler.

“We talked about this initiative to see what our big focus would be. They took this project on and it has just skyrocketed. We have people who drive by the school and stop just to check it out.”

McClellan, a junior, transferred to Goliad High School from Houston during his freshman year. He said getting involved with FFA has been a highlight of his high school education.

“FFA has definitely changed me,” McClellan said. “This ag program has influenced my life in a very positive way. I was new to Goliad and really didn’t know what was going on. I joined FFA and it made me grow in ways I never thought I could.”

McClellan, who said he is considering a career in agriculture, credited FFA advisors Todd Fuller and Butler for bringing energy and enthusiasm to the program.

“Our teachers bring their A game,” McClellan said. “I love them and they love us.”

Pnacek, a senior, said she will miss being a part of FFA.

“It is kind of sad as a senior, though, because I’ve watched the program build itself up over the years, Pnacek said. “It’s something you don’t want to leave. You want to keep participating in it. I now I’m going to be bawling at our chapter banquet at the end. It means so much to me. To see us as students and teachers make a difference in lives of other students who join is something that is really contagious. Everybody wants to be a part of it.”
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