A group of students enrolled in the environmental health problems course at the University of Central Arkansas took their final semester projects out of the classroom and into the campus greenhouse.

For their semester topic, the group chose to work with Emily Harris — currently working on her doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership — in the greenhouse on her aquaponic systems, a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture with snails, fish, crayfish and more, with hydroponics, which cultivates plants in water in a symbiotic environment.

“We helped maintain the systems on a weekly basis which included feeding the fish [and] crayfish and planting various vegetables,” UCA student Mitchell Shipp said. “This project was really to help provide a cheap and easy option to grow any vegetables and plants that are needed.”

Shipp said during the project, the most interesting thing he learned was that aquaponics requires very little soil for plants to grow due to the waste from the fish being circulated constantly into the grow bed and providing those nutrients during water uptake, which he said he found interesting.

The project group led a demonstration of all their semester findings in the greenhouse for their classmates and Shipp said he felt it went well.

Harris said she agreed and was impressed with the group’s enthusiasm.

While this was the first attempt to include the system as an interactive innovative learning environment for students, she thinks it went well.

“Overall, I believe that it went very well, although we will be making adjustments and improvements when we offer the opportunity again in the [spring],” she said.