March 2, 2020, Jersey City, NJ – Recently, members of the Hudson County Community College (HCCC) Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapter and STEM Club teamed up to address food insecurity in a very unique manner. In the latest “Out of the Box” podcast http://hcccpodcast.libsyn.com/hccc-aquaponics-greenhouse-project, students talk with HCCC President Dr. Chris Reber about their “Aquaponics Greenhouse Project.”
The groups worked together to plan, finance, design and build the aquaponics greenhouse prototype in the College’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Building. Mushrooms and scallions grown in the greenhouse are used to stock the HCCC “Hudson Helps” food pantry, and for cooking in the Culinary Arts Program.
“The members and advisors of these inspirational student organizations collaborated enthusiastically on the ‘Aquaponics Greenhouse Project,’” said HCCC President Dr. Chris Reber. “They’re growing food in a really innovative way. The grand vision is to provide food for those in need, and for our Culinary Arts program.”
The project began because members of the HCCC PTK chapter wanted to pursue a green initiative for the international honor society’s annual service project. “We brainstormed ideas and decided on something to address food insecurity. The aquaponics greenhouse gives back to the college community and helps the environment in its recycling initiatives,” said Christine Tirado, HCCC PTK Chapter President.
The project aligned with the HCCC STEM Club’s mission to organize fun and challenging workshops and activities for students to improve their STEM skills. “The STEM Club addressed the technical side of the greenhouse prototype. The greenhouse uses goldfish to nurture scallions. There are two bins of mushroom logs, each with a watering system that we built from scratch. The project has two purposes: to provide healthy, fresh food options, and to educate our STEM Club members,” said STEM Club President Anass Ennasraoui.
Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is the premier, international honor society for students in community and junior colleges. The organization provides members with opportunities to develop character, leadership and service, to exchange ideas and ideals, and to stimulate interest in continuing to achieve academic excellence.
The state-of-the-art HCCC STEM Building opened in 2017. The six-story structure has floors dedicated to Mathematics, Geology and Environmental Studies, Physics, Engineering and Electrical Engineering, Biology, Microbiology and Histology, Construction Management, and Chemistry.
The “Aquaponics Greenhouse Project” podcast is part of the College’s monthly “Out of the Box” series that launched last year. Discussions featuring guest speakers focus on programs, events, issues, and solutions that affect the people of Hudson County. Links to all of the College’s podcasts may be found at: https://www.hccc.edu/outofthebox/.