Pingree Announces $500K in USDA Funding for Aquaculture Workforce Training Partnership in Maine
Washington, April 12, 2021
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded a $500,000 grant to the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center in Walpole to develop an aquaculture workforce training pilot in partnership with Washington County Community College.
“Maine’s aquaculture sector is vital to our state’s economy. This program will train aquaculturists with in-demand knowledge and skills, helping students to secure good jobs and supporting the workforce needs of this important industry,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I have long worked to secure funding for NIFA grants which have helped to launch many careers in the nation’s food and agriculture sector. This substantial NIFA grant will provide students at Washington County Community College with a strong understanding of the latest aquaculture technologies and the credentials needed to enter our aquaculture workforce.”
The need for the program was identified in a recent report written by The Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The project includes the creation of new curriculum and instructional delivery systems, pilot testing curriculum and delivery methods, and development of assessment tools. The content of the programming will meet the need for entry-level skill sets in 4 key aquaculture sub-sectors (recirculating aquaculture, fin-fish aquaculture, shellfish aquaculture, and macroalgae aquaculture). Students will graduate with a workforce training certificate or an associate degree. The programming developed will have the potential to be expanded to other community colleges in Maine and throughout the Northeast.
Pingree serves on both the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and the House Agriculture Committee.