The HFM Career and Technical Center’s Environmental Conservation program will soon expand its opportunities for students to include fish stocking and aquatic habitat creation.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently awarded the program a permit, which will allow students to stock their classroom tanks and a soon-to-be created outdoor pond with native fish species.
For years, students at the Career and Technical Center have raised tilapia in indoor tanks as part of the Environmental Conservation program’s aquaculture, hydroponics and aquaponics studies. The new permit will now allow students to obtain native fish such as bass, perch, blue gill, fathead minnows and channel catfish from state-approved fish hatcheries. The HFM program has also applied for an Education/Exhibition License that will allow them to collect fish and other non-threatened specimens from local waterways to study in the classroom.
Once the fish are mature enough, students will be able to collect them from the tanks and release the fish into a pond they are constructing behind the Career and Technical Center on land owned by Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Through an agreement with the college, students will construct the pond during the course of the next few years.
Course instructors say the new fish stocking program will help students develop the skills needed to work or continue study in the fish stocking field.
“Our program will be similar to what the state DEC does through its trout stocking program across the state. It’s an exciting opportunity for our students,” HFM Environmental Conservation Adam Cancio said.
The HFM Environmental Conservation program currently has approximately 55 students enrolled from throughout Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties. The two-year program stresses career preparation in forestry and lumber production and heavy equipment operation with an emphasis on renewable resources.