FAF-REAP

FAF-REAP stands for the Florida Aquaculture Foundation (FAF) Rural Economic Advancement Project. This is a series of activities that are designed to enhance the capabilities of individuals living in rural and agricultural areas to help them advance economically, empowering them out of poverty.

1. Adult Literacy Program (Literacy Services of IRC)
2. Aquaculture Certification Series (IRSC)
3. Middle & High School Outreach Program (St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee, and Indian River school system)
4. Revenue-Generating Program (Dr. Tzachi Samocha – Intensive Shrimp Production Using BioFloc Technology, Texas A&M AgriLab)
5. Employee Development Program (Workforce Solutions & Florida Organic Aquaculture)

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FAF director Teri Pinney learns the Laubach System of teaching adults to read at the Literacy Services of Indian River County.

1. Adult Literacy Program – FAF believes that the first step toward economic empowerment is building up the ability for adults to read and comprehend. However, we are a nation in crisis as it relates to poor adult literacy skills. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (“NAAL”), a national governmental study, revealed that 20% of U.S. adults are at below basic literacy skills and another 42% can barely perform basic literacy activities. The NAAL report indicated that over 50% of our U.S. labor force in 2005 was barely literate.

In rural or agricultural towns people often struggle to:
• Read or fill out job applications
• Understand employment notices
• Pass employment or promotion exams
• Read official letters from the government
• Follow instructions for licenses
• Understand citizenship forms
• Comprehend emails or newspapers
• Read medicine labels
• Open up a checking or savings account
• Understand bills or loan documents

While most of these adults have a language barrier, many do not. For whatever reason, they simply did not learn to read to comprehend well enough. This is also a very sensitive problem to address, because of the stigma of shame attached to an adult not knowing how to read. FAF is working to break through this stigma.

2. Aquaculture Certification Series – We have worked on the development of an aquaculture certification program with Indian River State College, a leading college that has been ranked in the top 10 of the country by the U.S. Department of Education of public regional colleges in the South (US News and World Report).  In addition to business and finance theories, the series would encompass the study of marine biology or a related area: Fishery management, aquatic biology, fish nutrition and disease control, and hatchery operations.  The aquaculture industry continues to rise across the globe.  This certificate program will enhance a student’s knowledge in aquaculture sustainable farming techniques and operations.  Many of the students come from foreign countries and will take back to their homes the methodologies learned.

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FAF sponsored ninth-grade student field trip to Florida Organic Aquaculture shrimp farm in Fellsmere.

3.  Middle and High School Outreach Program – Our Foundation is affirmed in the belief of developing economic empowerment through the support of aquaculture and agriculture education across the state of Florida.  We demonstrate how STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is an inherent part of aquaculture education.  Teachers and students are made aware of the economic impact of aquaculture and agriculture.  This is achieved through guest speaking engagements in their classes and sponsored school field trips (picture on right).  Students are introduced to shrimp production, agricultural careers, and other facets of the industry.

FAF participates in career fairs held at various high schools throughout the Treasure Coast.  We also serve on school advisory councils that involve assisting with aquaculture competency-based curriculum design, which build on leadership and interest in the field.  The future of aquaculture education is promising, and there is a need to provide experiential learning.  The industry of agriculture is vast; the study of aquaculture is one aspect that could attract many young people today.

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Texas A&M AgriLife Lab’s Dr. Tzachi Samocha demonstrates how shrimp can be raised economically and environmentally-sound in his developed closed-water system.

4.  Revenue-Generating Program – It has become evident that the number of farmers and entrepreneurs interested in revenue-generating workshops continues to grow.  More people are environmentally and ecologically conscientious in their communities.  More entrepreneurs are interested in pursuing a business in aquaculture and hydroponics, as economic opportunities are being created.  With this in mind, we have partnered with experts in these fields and will sponsor their workshops.  These are revenue-generating and entrepreneurial in nature.  They are also aimed toward farmers or aquaculture workers who are looking for innovative sustainable methodology for their farms.  The workshops can also be taken by individuals interested for their own personal edification or for a hobby interest.

REAP-35.  Employee Development Program ­–  We are available to help workers who need  additional training in farm technology, equipment operation, and/or aquaculture methodology. They may even need self-improvement training such as GED, adult literacy, and other specific job skills.

FAF offers help in monitoring and measuring employee needs are and will be assisting employees who require enhanced training in particular areas. The REAP programs will be made available and offered to each employee:  Adult Literacy Program, Aquaculture Certification Series, and the Revenue-Generating Workshops.  In each case, employees will become more empowered, informed, and trained.  Their professional development will be maintained by FAF.  This involves anything from workplace needs to company cultural needs training.  This must also be determined per individual employee.  Some may need assistance in obtaining a GED or college credit courses.  Others may need certificate training, such as LEED, building up a green workforce for FOA.  Recordkeeping of employee professional development will also be required.

FAF will be working with the Workforce Solutions of the Treasure Coast to assure that this Employment Development Program is coordinated and implemented.  One of the FAF board members is the St. Lucie County district manager.  Funding for this part of the REAP program will be primarily administrative.