Alabama Oyster Farming Hands-On Project Makes High School Science Fun
For students enrolled in Bryant Oyster Academy at Alma Bryant High School in Bayou La Batre, science is fun.
“We teach students how to grow oysters,” said Charles Baker, professor of aquaculture. “They learn the whole process of setting up the longline system and then hanging baskets where you grow oysters either to market size or to a size where they’re tough enough to do that when you put them on a reef. .
Bryant Oyster Academy teaches students valuable professional skills from the Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.
The Bryant Oyster Academy was established several years ago by Julian Stewart. Baker took over the project after Stewart retired.
“We’re trying to build on what he started,” Baker said. “I really want to reach so many different types of students, whether they’re students looking for a career on the water straight out of high school, preparing them to know what they do and they can go and work on an oyster farm as soon as they leave high school. of high school, but also through the restoration side of things, by making them learn the whole process: scientific method, testing hypotheses, measuring growth over time and setting up different experiments so that they can go and have it on their CV if they want to go to college.
Alma Bryant High School establishes an oyster farm in Sandy Bay, just around the corner from Lightning Point. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)
Charles Baker says he ultimately wants students graduating from the academy to have hands-on experience with oyster farming in three contexts: research, conservation and aquaculture. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)
Students learn how to set up the longline system and then hang baskets to grow oysters to market size or a size that will allow them to be strong enough on a reef. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)
Baker’s current plan for the academy is to set up an oyster farm in Sandy Bay, just around the corner from Lightning Point. He partnered with Auburn University Shellfish Lab and Dauphin Island Sea Lab and received financial assistance through two grants: one from Gulf Coast RC&D to purchase a boat and materials to build a rig and two lines off-bottom oysters capable of growing up to 100,000 oysters on the oyster farm, and a second through the Alabama Power Foundation’s Students to Stewards scholarship to purchase safety equipment and pay for boat maintenance and trailer.
“We are very grateful for the support we have received for this program,” said Baker. “We couldn’t do this without the support of groups like Alabama Power and Gulf Coast RC&D. So many people are helping us and we couldn’t do it without them.
Baker said he ultimately wanted the academy’s graduate students to have hands-on experience with oyster farming in three contexts: research, conservation and aquaculture.
“It ties in with the whole idea of a living shore,” Baker said. “So far, it has been great getting the kids interested in working here on the water and preparing for possible careers here on the water.”