Congratulations to Shawn Graham, a dedicated Grades of Green teacher, and his group of amazing students in the Aquatic Society of Omaha at Millard Extension for being nominated as finalists for Nebraska’s 2017 Step Forward Awards! Shawn and his 29 students, who range from ages 5 to 18, have pioneered a sustainable tilapia aquaculture operation that has become a licensed Nebraska Games and Parks Fishery. Students used classroom science concepts to design the elevated pond, which acts as an outdoor classroom as well as a source of fish that are donated to local food shelters and to research institutions in Nebraska.

Recently, tilapia from the students’ pond were transferred to Metropolitan Community College to be used for college science research and to train new chefs. Once the fish have been processed they will provide an estimated 1,200 meals for food insecure members of the Omaha community. The Aquatic Society of Omaha’s work to combine STEM, sustainability and community service also earned them recognition as generationOn’s 2017 Club of the Year.

Shawn and his students at Millard Extension are participating in Grades of Green’s fall 2017 Water Challenge, and set the goal of innovating mechanisms to ensure that their tilapia pond conserves as much water as possible. Shawn’s students have shared their aquaculture model with St. Roza, another Water Challenge School in Uganda, as part of Grades of Green’s initiative to facilitate the cross-pollination of sustainable ideas between schools across the globe. Shawn and his students will be recognized by Lt. Governor Mike Foley at the awards ceremony held by ServeNebraska on October 27th.