MS Farm to School Presentation with SSC and Shrimp

     For the second year, Holy Trinity has participated in the MS Farm to School Network Challenge. According to the website mississippifarmtoschool.org, the Mississippi Farm to School Network works to connect farmers with schools in order to bring Mississippi products to school cafeterias. Though the goal of the challenge is to bring awareness to the importance of locally-grown agricultural foods, you won’t find many farms in the coastal region of Mississippi, so the challenge this year became a little more difficult. In the coastal region, our type of farmers work with the delicacies of the sea. Keeping all of that in mind, Holy Trinity focused on seafood caught, or farmed, locally, specifically shrimp. To learn more about our local shrimp, we called upon the knowledge of the St. Stanislaus Marine Science Interns under the leadership of Mrs. Letha Boudreaux.  

    As students moved throughout stations, students learned facts and experienced hands-on activities. For the first station, intern Ethan Favre was in charge of a live tank display that had juvenile species of white shrimp and grass shrimp that had recently been caught using seine nets and cast nets in the Bay of St. Louis.  Students were able to observe the natural behavior of shrimp, like burrowing in the sand, and how they use their adaptations to feel out their environment.  Students could also view an illustration of the life cycle of a shrimp to emphasize the importance of our estuaries, like Bay St. Louis, in the development of juvenile shrimp species.  The second station was with intern Noah Theriot. He taught the kids all about the shrimp that live in the Gulf of Mexico that we do not eat. They learned about Tiger shrimp (an invasive species), where they came from and how they got here. They also learned about the Mantis shrimp and its capability to break open shells with its modified feeding appendage. Grass shrimp were also talked about, focusing on how to identify them and how they carry their eggs. There was also a live Coral Banded shrimp to observe. 

    At the third station, intern Drew West focused on the differences between three main species of shrimp that are caught commercially (and recreationally) in our area.  Specifically, he taught students how to identify the white, brown, and pink shrimp.  He also explained where they could find these shrimp species, as well as which ones they are most likely to eat. Intern Jackson Thriffiley led the fourth station and taught students how to tell the difference between male and female shrimp.  A preserved crawfish, which is a relative of shrimp, was used to physically show them the difference between males and females. Station five allowed intern Cameron Baehr to talk to students about the different types of equipment used at SSC to catch shrimp, like the cast net and seine net.  He also talked to students about the commercial shrimping industry and used illustrations to explain how shrimp boats and their trawl nets work.

    Station six intern Hogan Benvenutti taught students about brine shrimp, a zooplankton species, and their role in the food chain. Hogan also had recently hatched brine shrimp under a microscope for students to observe. Intern Seth Cook gave the students a brief description of how we collect plankton, using plankton nets, and then explained the importance of plankton as a food source for our shrimp species at station seven. Students learned that what the shrimp eat will determine how the shrimp will taste to us!  Students where then able to observe live plankton samples under a microscope.  For station eight, Mrs. Boudreaux introduced students to the relatives of shrimp and explained some of their shared adaptations, like exoskeletons and molting.  Students were able to see, and touch, the molts of blue crabs, deep-sea isopods, hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs.  Students were also able to observe preserved crustacean species.  Thanks to a generous donation of shrimp from Kendall Marquar of Pinchers Seafood in Lakeshore, we finished our study of coastal farming by having delicious Shrimp Alfredo for lunch in our cafeteria. It was quite a treat for everyone!

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