Enactus Club creates aquaponics production system

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Bradlee LaBrutta, business management sophomore and president of Enactus, poses with grow beds in a hydroponic garden in the greenhouse Thursday at Koehler. Filtered water flows from fish tanks into plant beds, then to bio-filters, a subtank, then back again. E. David Guel

Bradlee LaBrutta, business management sophomore and president of Enactus, poses with grow beds in a hydroponic garden in the greenhouse Thursday at Koehler. Filtered water flows from fish tanks into plant beds, then to bio-filters, a subtank, then back again. E. David Guel

Group will compete in St. Louis in April.

By Travis Doyle

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

The campus chapter of Enactus is partnering with the company Unilever to create an aquaponics production system in the greenhouse west of Koehler Cultural Center.

Members also will make a garden to the north of the aquaponics system, so they can use the two in conjunction as a small working system.

An aquaponics production system combines conventional aquaculture with hydroponics or cultivating plants in water to recreate a symbiotic environment using fish and plants to recycle the water and create energy.

The Enactus chapter plans to establish a farmer’s market on campus by the garden to sell the extra fruits and vegetables grown out of the aquaponics system.

Enactus — for entreprenuerial, act, us — is part of a business management course, BMGT 2309, Leadership. The club meets during the class period, but membership is not limited to those enrolled.

The group meets 10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. Monday and Wednesday in Room 318 of Oppenheimer Learning Center.

Business management Professor Charles Hunt is the instructor and adviser to Enactus along with business management Instructor Mahmud Yusuf.

“I believe students gain the opportunity to network with classmates and to look at previous colleges for inspiration,” Hunt said. “The aquaponics system is based off of one that was created at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla.”

Each semester new students enroll in the class and take on projects from the last semester or start new ones to be entered into a competition. Members from the previous semester work with the current class on projects.

The 22 students who make up Enactus this semester are divided among three projects.

The other two projects are a venture with Wal-Mart to empower women in the workplace and a project with Sam’s Club that uses a distillation of pulp from fruit and vegetables to make alcohol fuel.

Business management sophomore Bradlee LaBrutta, who is the group leader for the Unilever project, and President of the campus Enactus chapter, is one example of a previous student who came back to work with the new Enactus members.

“We started last semester getting approval from the president’s executive committee of San Antonio College to use the greenhouse, and then in October we began designing and in December we started building,” LaBrutta said.

The garden will be ready in three weeks, he said. The garden and the aquaponics system will be used by Travis Early College High School, Beacon Hill Elementary School, Great Hearts Charter School, members of Enactus, and the senior citizens of Tobin Hill and the surrounding area.

Each of these groups will learn how to create an aquaponics system for home use.

The campus chapter received a $1,500 grant called the Unilever Bright Future Project to create the community aquaponics and garden system. This college is one of more than 1,600 colleges working with Enactus and competes with other colleges in an annual contest, according to enactus.org.

The Enactus group is part of an international organization that connects students through projects that empower people to transform opportunities and give back to the community.

The campus chapter will compete with 350-400 other colleges April 3-16 in St. Louis.

One team will be named the Enactus United States National Champion and be invited to represent the U.S. at the Enactus World Cup.

Enactus offers the opportunity to develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills through learning, practicing and teaching the principles of free enterprise, in hopes of improving the livelihoods of others in the process.

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1 Comment

  1. It is so wonderful seeing young people learning about aquaponics. I have been building aquaponics systems for 20 years all over west africa. They are primitive and they work but it’s fun to see the new technology.

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