The doors of Kentucky State University’s two newest buildings for aqua research and early education opened to the public for the first time Friday.
A $2.9 million Aquaculture Production Technologies Laboratory will allow faculty and students to conduct cutting-edge research about raising fish in a controlled environment.
Most of the 14,000-square-foot facility, near the football stadium, is devoted to the “tank room,” filled with row after row of fish tanks.
Jim Tidwell, chair of the Division of Aquaculture, said indoor production could ease the public’s concerns about the safety of eating farm-raised fish. It also creates a year-round source of seafood.
“We now have complete control over their environment,” he said.
The room will also house an aquaponics operation, Tidwell said. Wastewater from the fish tanks acts as fertilizer for growing vegetables, and in turn, the plants naturally clean the water.
There’s a genetics lab, where researchers can extract DNA from fish eggs and newborn fish to see if their efforts to raise faster-growing animals with better meat are working. Unlike traditional livestock, fish are still essentially wild animals, Tidwell said.
There’s also a lab to monitor the water quality in the tanks, and a feed preparation room where new formulations will be developed.
Things will be up and running soon. Faculty, staff and students have been in the building for the last few weeks working to move in equipment and furniture, Tidwell said.
The Rosenwald Center for Families and Children, located off Cold Harbor Drive, will offer day care, preschool, after-school programs and summer programs for local kids.
The $4.2 million, 12,000-square-foot facility is the third that KSU has built over the years, and President Mary Sias said she hopes it’s the last for a long time. A tower bearing a bright yellow clock was installed to make it visible from the road.
The building features pastel-walled classrooms, a multipurpose room, a playground, a commercial kitchen and a demonstration kitchen where Sias said parents would learn to cook healthy meals.
Classrooms have one-way observation windows so KSU education students can gain real world experience, Sias said.
KSU students will get the first opportunity for slots, followed by faculty and staff, and then the public.
“This facility will allow us to build a new bridge, a new partnership with the community, to grow the next generation of families and children,” Sias said.
The building is named for the Rosenwald Schools, which celebrate their 100th anniversary this year.
Approximately 5,000 of the schools were built throughout the South in the early 1900s to educate African American children. Franklin County had three Rosenwald Schools in the 1920s.