Valmeyer farming students embracing aquaculture for food cultivation

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

VALMEYER, IL (KPLR) – The scale of Mr. Heavner's FFA class is one whopper of a tale in Valmeyer, Illinois.

'We got tilapia in these race ways, we have fingerling tilapias little babies,' says Griffin Seidler, FFA Treasurer.  'We have hybrid blue gill, channel catfish.'

Thanks to the 18 tanks and three greenhouses the school raises more than five thousand fish annually.

'We kind of help feed the fish and drain the tanks and get all the fecal matter out of the tanks if you will,' says Seidler.  'You get to do the fun stuff.'

The town once wiped out by the flood of '93 is embracing its river heritage and history.

'Since we were in the river bottoms some of our farmers are also fishermen and have lakes and farms,' says Howard Heavner, Agriculture Teacher and Valmeyer Mayor.   'It kind of fit in with the kind of agriculture that might exist or we hope will exist in the future.'

From eighth grade through senior year students learn various horticulture and aquaculture skills.

These fisher's of men have made a cottage industry out of their catches.

'Year we ship them all around the state of Illinois and throughout the United States,' says Luke Franke, FFA President

The schools raise and sell to other schools lakes and ponds wanting to stock up around the Midwest.

They`re a crafty bunch as evident by their vineyard and green houses.

'I do like to go fishing in real life,' says Zach Koonz.   'Sometimes we get yelled at for trying to go fishing in the tanks.'

The fish profits are put back into the program that teaches these future leaders and food suppliers.

It`s proving an old adage true that if you teach a man to fish you`ll feed him and others, for life.