4-H At-Home Aquaponics Project

University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H in partnership with the UMaine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR) and the UMaine Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) is offering the 4-H At-Home Aquaponics Project, an experiential learning program for youth ages 9-18 delivered virtually. The program will include learning experiences in introductory aquaponic systems and design, fish husbandry, aquaponic gardening, cooking and nutrition, and more. Youth will practice important life skills such as record-keeping, problem-solving, food safety, collaboration/teamwork, science and math literacy, and more!Logos for UMaine 4-H, UMaine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, and Aquaculture Research Institute

Prior experience with aquaponics is not required to participate. The program leaders will mentor youth through the stages of designing and building an aquaponics system through maintenance and harvest. Youth complete their project independently at home (with adult supervision), but they are also members of a state-wide group of youth who are participating in the project together. The group will meet regularly via Zoom in Summer and Fall 2021 (schedule is below). Youth do not have to be currently enrolled in 4-H, but will enroll when beginning this project. The project is open to youth from any county in Maine.

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a type of farming that combines raising fish in tanks (aquaculture) and growing plants without soil (hydroponics). In an aquaponics system, the plants use nutrient-rich water from the fish tank while purifying the water for the fish. Aquaponic farming can be done year-round, indoors, and in any climate. It is a fun and different way to grow your own food that is safe, easy, and fresh!


Participant Responsibilities and Expectations

  • Come with an open mind to experiential learning in a virtual setting
  • Be respectful and participate fully in the program
  • Adult supervision at home is expected for all project-related activities
  • Obtain the necessary equipment and supplies (materials/parts lists will be provided and $200 grants are generously available from the Maine 4-H Foundation)
  • Design, construct and maintain an appropriate aquaponics system for your household (hint: this takes a lot of hard work and dedication!)
  • Perform tasks necessary to ethically care for living plants and animals (husbandry, gardening, water quality testing, systems check, etc)
  • Keep records as directed by program leaders
  • Report and present on the outcome of the project
  • Take on a leadership role in an area of your interest
  • Abide by all UMaine and State/Federal safety guidelines (this may include some restrictions due to COVID-19)
  • This project will require a small financial investment and time commitment from parents/guardians for their child to begin this project.

UMaine Extension, UMaine CCAR, and ARI will provide aquaponics project-related information to all participants; provide educational experiences related to the project such as webinars, hands-on activities, virtual tours, etc.; arrange for the purchasing of materials from reliable sources; check-in with participants on a regular basis; and respond quickly to questions and issues related to the project.


  • Tuesday, June 15 | 4:30 p.m. | Aquaponics Project Kick-Off Meeting
  • Tuesday, June 22 | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | Grant Proposal – System Design & Engineering
  • Thursday, June 24 | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | Grant Proposal – Materials and Budget
  • Friday, June 25 | No meeting | Grant Proposals Due
  • Tuesday, June 29 | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | Aquaponics 101
  • Tuesday, July 6 | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | System Cycling
  • Tuesday, July 13  | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | All About Fish I
  • Tuesday, July 20 | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | All About Fish II
  • Tuesday, August 3 | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | Aquaponic Gardening
  • Tuesday, August 17 | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | Aquaponic Food Systems
  • Tuesday, August 31 | 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. | Harvest, Cooking, Nutrition
  • September | Meeting TBD based on your schedules | Virtual Tours of your system
  • October | Meeting TBD based on your schedules | Project Records

Register Now

Registration is full for 2021. If you are interested in a future 4-H Aquaponics Project, please complete the form below and we will contact you at the beginning of the next project cycle.


The University of Maine is an EEO/AA employer and does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies:  Director of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5754, 207.581.1226, TTY 711 (Maine Relay System).