The key focus of the Aquaponics curriculum program is the STEM concentration. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm allowing students to discover, explore, and apply critical thinking skills to real-world applications as they learn.
With the goal of producing high school graduates ready to excel in their college and ownership careers, WPG has developed an integrated STEM and Business curriculum at Istrouma High that spans from middle school to college.
The Aquaponics program will:
Focus on real-world issues
Apply rigorous Math and Science in context
Immerse students in hands-on, open-ended exploration guided by the engineering design process
Allow multiple “right” answers
Involve students in productive teamwork
Middle School: The aquaponics curriculum was developed by Rebecca Nelson, Adjunct Professor of University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. It was enhanced to include financial literacy and career paths thanks to LSU's Dr. Jen Curry and her College of Education graduate students.
High School: The commercial-level Aquaponics experience is paired with a Micro-Enterprise course that introduces students to entrepreneurship. Students can develop business skills such as marketing, economics, financial literacy and use of social media in support of business goals. They will develop an understanding of what it is like to run a business unit.
While our primary goal is to engage and encourage students to become high school graduates, We Produce Grads will also offer LSU scholarships to help fund more advanced STEM and Education studies for selected Istrouma Aquaponics program graduates. WPG will donate 100% of the net profits from operations to fund the scholarships to attend Louisiana State University.
There are three scholarships available for Istrouma Aquaponics Grads:
McCollister Leadership Awards (MLAs)
LSU students pursuing a career in Education are eligible for one of three annual awards of $4,500. One awardee is also eligible to spend a semester abroad with a $2,000 stipend.
Consideration for this scholarship award is based on student need, leadership skills and character, validated through a pastoral reference.
Taking advantage of the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 3-to-1 Matching Gifts Program helped create the endowment which currently funds over $16K annually in scholarships.
History: While in college in 1996, Mr. Ronnie Morris was fortunate to receive a LSU Board of Supervisors scholarship from Board member Rolfe McCollister, Jr. That award provided needed financial aid and encouragement to continue his pursuit of an Electrical Engineering degree. After graduation and five years into his new career at ExxonMobil, Morris expressed his gratitude to the McCollister family by establishing the Dot and Rolfe McCollister, Sr. Leadership Award in 2001.
Dr. Lauraleigh Eddelman Scholarship
The $6,000 annual scholarship will be available to Istrouma High School graduates who satisfy the McCollister Leadership Award criteria and successfully complete the Aquaponics program.
The first award will be presented in 2022 to a graduating high school senior who was in Dr. Eddelman's first middle school Aquaponics class. Dr. Eddelman, a STEM fellow, helped develop and teach Louisiana's first accredited middle school Aquaponics class with an operational laboratory.
Greene STEM Awards
We Produce Grads is building on the McCollister Leadership Awards to create the Greene STEM Awards. In 2001, the Dr. Tom and Cathy Greene Scholarship was established benefiting Veterinary and Engineering students at LSU.
The Greene STEM Awards will be funded directly from the net profits of our Aquaponics Lab at Istrouma High School, providing scholarship opportunities for graduates who have completed the Aquaponics Program and are pursuing studies in STEM.