Today started with a run in Twin Falls along the top of the Snake River canyon which was stunning scenery. I’m trying get some exercise at least every second day to help me sleep at night, maintain energy for the long days and see some of real America by footpath or trail. Here’s the view down into the Snake River (favourite spot of base jumpers).
Today was ‘aquaculture’ day, with Idaho having over 100 freshwater fish farms with some utilising geothermal energy. By comparison, most of New Zealand’s aquaculture is marine based, with some freshwater operations such as the Huka Prawn Park and the National Trout Centre.
First up was Steve from the College of Southern Idaho who showed me their trout and sturgeon operations. Pretty amazing to see a 2.5 metre long sturgeon and to think of that cruising around in rivers (they don’t have teeth!).
We then toured a geothermal fish farm at Canyon Springs which produces tilapia. Dave generously offered for me to try out Zip the Snake but unfortunately I ran out of time. Steve also gave me a glimpse of his frog farm, which was full of innovation.
Next up was Ron, Professor at the University of Idaho, director of the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station and director of the University of Idaho’s Aquaculture Research Institute. He is a guru on fish nutrition and aquaculture in general, and gave a great insight into the history of the Idaho aquaculture industry and what may lay in store for aquaculture in the future. Plant based food has been a real area of focus on innovative research.
To wrap up the day I finished with Leo from Fish Breeders of Idaho, who farms trout, tilapia and sturgeon. He used to farm alligators too but the couple he has left were a bit shy today. In his late 70’s, Leo has been there and done that and shared some great thoughts on putting customers first, focusing on service and quality and the importance of risk taking to create value. Leo’s firm harvest caviar from the Sturgeon, which can take 10 years to produce, which is quite a wait but worth it for the price!
By 6pm, facing a 2 hour drive my head was spinning but the time on the road to Boise gave me time to contemplate today. Several things struck a chord:
- The involvement of the education organisations in research and partnering with industry on both products and training people.
- Clever entrepreneurs who have transformed natural resources into value added products by pioneering, risk taking and continued innovation.
Broader themes are emerging around entrepreneurship, small business and workforce development. Today was a great example of results from collaboration with business, research/education and government. How well do we work with others and what could be possible when everyone collaborates?
Another full day tomorrow and then the weekend for some much needed downtime.