Aquaponics at the Aquaculture America Conference

This past week I attended and gave two presentations on Aquaponics at the Aquaculture America Conference in Las Vegas.  Ed Aneshansley from the Aquaculture Engineering Society pulled together a group of five aquaponics folks and gave us two topics apiece with 15 minutes each in which to present them.  I was given “Beginner and Hobbyist Guide to Aquaponics” and “Aquaponics at Home and in the Community”.  The entire Aquaponics series was very well done and did a terrific job representing aquaponics to an esteemed, and highly engaged, audience of aquaculturalists.  My hat is off to Ed for organizing the group so well.

I planned for the conference as a speaker only, rather than also as an attendee, which was perhaps a mistake on my part.  The conference program was robust to the point of being overwhelming.  The program brochure was half an inch thick!  But my intent was to minimize the time that this event took me away from our business because we are so crazy busy here right now.  I did attend a few sessions though, which only made me wish that I had had time to attend more!

The other benefit of attending a conference, however, is meeting face-to-face or what I like to refer to as “three dimensionalizing” people that you have otherwise only known through e-mail and other social media.  Over the 24 hours that I was at the the conference, I had the wonderful opportunity of 3-D’ing the following people:

  • Tony, our fish and sump tank provider – Before meeting him in person I would have said that Tony was a kinda gruff, serious manufacturing guy.  Now I know that he is a bit of a party animal and pretty charming and funny as well.
  • Charlie Schultz, formerly of The University of the Virgin Islands and now a graduate student at the University of Kentucky – Charlie worked with Dr. Rakocy at UVI for a number of years and is someone whose academic approach to aquaponics I truly respect.  He and I are now talking about collaborating on a grant to write an academic article on Small Scale Aquaponics.  He is a great supporter of the Aquaponic Gardening Community and even gave it a shout-out during the second of his 15 minute presentations at the conference.
  • Dr. James Ebeling, best known as the co-author of “Recirculating Aquaculture” – Whenever I think of Dr. Ebeling, I unfortunately recall the identification of the first error in my book (fortunately there have only been two true errors identified so far!).  When I referenced his book I spelled his name “Eberling”.  So I was a little nervous when I was cornered on a dash to the women’s’ room by a smiling man with a grey ponytail who identified himself as James Ebeling.  Ends up I had nothing to worry about.  We had a chance to chat during the break and he was delightful.  I hope to convince him to come speak at the Aquaponics Association Conference this year.
  • Tony Vaught, President Elect, California Aquaculture Association – Tony and I have talked on the phone several times about various projects we might pursue together.  He has a real fascination with aquaponics and is currently putting in a small backyard system that he plans to populate with sturgeon, of all things!  We had a wonderful lunch together on Thursday and I’m certain that not only will we have business projects together in the future, but I can see a strong relationship developing between the Aquaponics Association and the California Aquaculture Association.

But I have to say that the best part of the conference was hanging around Las Vegas with my great friend, Gina Cavaliero from Green Acre Organics.  I would tell you details about that but, hey, what happens in Vegas really should stay in Vegas!

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