Archive for May, 2009


Friday, May 29th, 2009

There’s a very good chance the last shrimp dinner you ate did not contain shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico or the last salmon you enjoyed did not come from a fast moving river in the northwestern United States.  According to Dr. Hugh Hammer, Gadsden State Community College aquaculture instructor, most of the fish we consume today is raised on farms and does not come from the sea. 

Hammer said during a recent presentation to a Gadsden civic club, “Approximately 90% of the shrimp consumed today is farm raised along with 70% of the salmon and 100% of the tilapia and catfish.”  Hammer told the club about 45% of the seafood eaten around the world is farm raised. In spite of increased interest in aquaculture in the United States, last year the U.S. had a trade deficit in seafood of $7.9 billion.

In Alabama, aquaculture is a $115,000,000 business with about 25,000 acres of water.  There are 256 farms in the state, most of them catfish farms employing about 2700. Some of the farms have water acreage as big as downtown Gadsden and each pond can produce tens of thousands of pounds of fish.

Hammer noted that the aquaculture program at Gadsden State is similar to the industry in the state except on a miniature scale. There are 13 outdoor ponds along with indoor facilities. A number of different kinds of fish are raised including freshwater shrimp, tilapia, crawfish, rainbow trout, fantail guppies (ornamental), hybrid striped bass, channel catfish, largemouth bass and koi (ornamental).  Hammer compared himself to an extension agent, explaining that he works with those involved in aquaculture in the state to help solve problems with their ponds or fish.  In addition to instructing classes at the College, he has played an instrumental role in Alabama’s having the largest group of K-12 instructors who teach aquaculture in the United States.  Since Hammer arrived at Gadsden State in 2001, he has trained approximately 250 teachers throughout the United States with most of the teachers coming from Alabama.

“I am most proud of the internship program we have created at Gadsden State,” Hammer said.   “Our students are able to get paid internship programs in many areas of the United States including Alaska and even the Dominican Republic.”  Five students have benefited from an advanced internship at the Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando. Some of the internships offer up to $500 a week plus housing and the experience is priceless. 

Hammer explained that fish consumption warnings which exist along many of Alabama’s waterways are mostly for methyl mercury and PCB’s.  “Don’t stop eating seafood especially salmon,” he told the club members, “because your nervous systems are all developed and eating the fish will not hurt you. In fact, the benefits from salmon consumption far outweigh any potential damage.”  The people who need to strongly follow the consumption guidelines are those who are considering children in the future and those who are pregnant or nursing.

Anyone interested in talking with Hammer about his program or problems with their ponds or fish may contact him at (256) 549-8345 or


Friday, May 29th, 2009

Gadsden, Ala. — Non-profit agencies and schools in the Gadsden State Community College five-county service area received over 1,349 hours of assistance from students participating in the Service Learning program at Gadsden State during the 2009 Spring Semester.  The Independent Sector calculates the approximate monetary value of these volunteer hours to be more than $27,000.  Independent Sector is a leadership forum for charities and foundations, which assigns a monetary value to volunteer hours. 

According to Jean Reed, assistant to the Service Learning Program at Gadsden State, a total of 93 students participated in the program during Spring Semester, working at 37 schools and 20 agencies.   Students enrolled in a variety of classes are given the opportunity to participate in the Service Learning program by volunteering to work hours at the schools or agencies in addition to classroom hours. 

Since the Service Learning Program was implemented in the autumn of 2001, students have donated a total of 515,000 work hours making this program have an approximate value of $10,300,000. Whenever possible, students are allowed to choose where they want to work.  Reed pointed out that programs involving children are always popular, so many college students volunteer at K-12 schools for reading and tutoring programs.  A number of students choose to volunteer at the Family Success Center in East Gadsden, while other interests are as varied as the Humane Society and the Sheriff’s Department.  Students are given the opportunity to choose from a total of 90 schools and approximately 180 agencies. 

Reed said that the number of participants varies each year, but the program includes new partners and participants all the time.  Students are required to work 10 to 15 hours per course, but, this spring, one student volunteered 42 hours—more than four times what was required.  Many Gadsden State faculty members offer this option to students taking their classes.  Reed stated, “We continue to get positive reports from the schools and agencies.  They welcome the help our students provide.”  

Agencies wishing to inquire about becoming Service Learning Partners or Gadsden State students wishing to volunteer are encouraged to contact Jean Reed at (256) 549-8223.


Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Gadsden, Ala. — Three Gadsden State Community College students who expected to enter the nursing field may be making a change in plans after being selected for the Summer Rural Pre-Medical Internship program under the direction of the UAB School of Medicine and the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus. Alex Goodman and Christian Beck, both of Anniston, along with Leena Dupre of Wedowee have taken Gross Anatomy courses at the McClellan Center and are among an exclusive group of 20 students selected for the prestigious program which begins June 1 and concludes July 24, 2009.


This is the first year for Gross Anatomy courses at Gadsden State and Dr. Bennett Tucker, Jr., biology instructor at McClellan said, “These three students have yet to realize their potential.”   He expressed the huge significance of having three students chosen to participate during the first year Gadsden State has offered this course option.


The internship program is for sophomores an  and juniors interested in Primary Care/Family Practice Medicine and Rural Practice where Alabama has a serious deficiency.  There are many areas of the state where residents are a considerable distance away from medical care.    The program provides students with exposure to the health care needs of rural Alabama, giving particular attention to the primary care specialties of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.  It will also improve the interns’ understanding of medical school, the training of family doctors and the practice of family medicine/primary care in rural areas. In addition to a stipend to assist with their living costs, the participants in the program receive tutorial help in preparing for examinations for medical school admission.


Last fall, Gadsden State became the first two-year college in Alabama to have gross anatomy labs where students can learn from cadavers.  Gross anatomy is an essential part of medical education.  Vice President Valerie Richardson, Dean of Instructional Services Jim Jolly and Associate Dean of Institutional Advancement & Community Services Pam Johnson worked collaboratively to secure a $347,000 federal grant to establish the labs.  “Having the labs at the McClellan and Wallace Drive Campuses gives our students a big advantage.” Tucker added.   


Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Gadsden State Community College will host athletic camps for both basketball and volleyball during the summer.  Mike Cancilla, athletic director, said that early registration is recommended due to limited space.

Girls basketball camps will be held during June.  Fundamental Camp I will be June 2 – 3 and Fundamental Camp II will be June 15 – 16.  The sessions are for grades 1-6 and will be held at the Beck Field House on the Wallace Drive Campus of Gadsden State from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m.  There is no charge for the camp but there is a limit of 25 students per class.

Volleyball camps will be held during July. Team Camp I scheduled for July 20 – 21 is for varsity members only.  Each team will have a coach assigned to them.  The camp will be broken down into sessions and will cover all aspects of the game. Team Camp II July 23 – 24 is similar to Camp I, but it is designed for middle school and junior varsity only.  The cost is $75 per student.

Scrimmage dates for area high school volleyball teams are set for July 22 and 29. Ten teams will be chosen and a mini-tournament will be conducted in one day. The cost is $100 per team and hours are

8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.   There will be a Hitters/Setters/Defense Camp July 27 – 28 with individualized instruction. Each participant will be allowed to choose one of the three positions. The cost is $50 per player and the hours are 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Participants in all camps will need to provide medical release forms.  For more information or to register, contact the Gadsden State Athletic Department at (256)549-8310.  Applications and release forms are available online at