Joni Lee Giovanna Hesley Oracle, Ariz. / 52 Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering MS, 2015 University of Arizona Education K-8, MEd, 1997, Fiber Arts Fibers, BA, 1989 Arizona State University After my husband’s passing four years ago, I returned to school to finish my engineering degree. I took a circuitous route, beginning the degree decades ago. I completed the engineering core in 1983 but then moved on—to England—to help run a small farm as well as a bed and breakfast. When I returned to Arizona ten years later, I finished an undergrad degree in fiber arts and worked as an artist. As the daughter I had in England became school age, I worked on my master’s in education. My engineering background made me highly qualified in math and science. I taught middle school for the next decade as my daughter grew through the grades. Today, with my background in STEM and an MS in agricultural and biosystems engineering, I have begun consulting with schools, businesses, and communities on how to design, install, operate, and sustain aquaponic gardens. I am part of a team working toward garden certification for aquaponic produce to be used in school cafeterias. I enjoy collegial conversations with my peers, professors, and particularly a group of aquaponic enthusiasts from several colleges who meet once a week to discuss research and create a base for collaboration. Yet, I would like to travel the world, assisting in implementation of community aquaponics systems for food production and education. When I visit a school or grower to consult on growing hydroponically with treated fish effluent, I am surprised by the variety of good questions they ask. I have been able to find the answers or the people who can help—very satisfying!—and I hope to continue this exciting, challenging work.
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