Big Apple's only hydroponic student lab showcased

 Jennifer Tiffany, Roger Turgeon, Jennifer Sirangelo
From left, Jennifer Tiffany, interim executive director, CUCE-NYC; Roger Turgeon, principal, Food and Finance High School; and Jennifer Sirangelo, executive director, National 4-H Council.

The new National 4-H Council president and CEO, Jennifer Sirangelo
, was hosted by Cornell University Cooperative Extension-New York City (CUCE-NYC) Jan. 27 in a student-led tour of Food and Finance High School’s Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Labs – the only facility of its kind in a New York City high school. The tour included a demonstration of how the labs work to sustainably raise more than 10,000 tilapia and other fish species in Hell’s Kitchen, enabling students to meet New York state-mandated science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related lab requirements.

“Each time I visit Food and Finance High School I learn something new, which makes your school and the program so impressive to me,” said Sirangelo in an email after the event. “The science lab is one of the flagship programs of 4-H’s urban work in New York City. I am extremely proud of your progress and success. And it was a thrill to visit with the 4-H club members from area high schools. My only regret is that I did not have time to visit a nearby restaurant to order your tilapia! Next time!”

At the heart of Food and Finance High School’s unique culinary program is its Hydroponics and Aquaculture program, which produces thousands of fish in the quickest, freshest and cleanest manner possible. The program, run by Cornell scientist Philson Warner in conjunction with CUCE-NYC and the National 4-H Council, includes a hydroponic system that ensures fresh produce is grown quickly, freshly and cleanly. All food is distributed to the cafeteria, donated to hunger relief organizations, distributed at green markets and even sold to local businesses. To date more than 200 New York state and New York City science teachers have been trained at the lab, which has hosted more than 6,500 students.

The Food and Finance High School is located at 525 W. 50th St.

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