What do fish waste, water, and plants growing in gravel have to do with one other? They are the main ingredients in an aquaponics greenhouse.
Nearly 70 high school students from Los Angeles traveled to the Mountain State to work on New Vision Renewable Energy, an aquaponics greenhouse. It is one of a dozen projects the students have worked on.
A Philippi-based group, New Vision promotes community development through sustainable energy.
"We believe God the creator, gave humans ingenuity and resources, and New Vision really grew out of the inventing mind through our inventor John Prusa, who really loves putting new solutions together," said president Ruston Seaman of New Vision Renewable Energy.
Very few things are more sustainable than the aquaponics greenhouse the students made.
Every 45 minutes, the 1,200 gallon tank fills with water then drains. Eventually, it will host 700 tilapia. The fish's waste is filtered, and bacteria turns it into nitrates. As the fish grow, they will reproduce.
"It's all powered by solar panels, all the pumps, aerators, everything is powered by the solar panels that store its energy in batteries, so it's not drawing electricity, it's totally self-sufficient," said John Prusa, director of research and design at New Vision.
New Vision works with church youth groups across the country. Its goal is to not only develop the local community, but spread green knowledge and sustainable practices.
"My generation is going to have to deal with a lot of the after effects of those who came before us. We've been dependent on oil and coal for so long, which is kind of a bummer, but it's good that we're finding new ways to wean ourselves off that," said student Jonathan Christie.
"Personally I think it's very inspiring to see this community help lift itself up with this renewable energy and it's something I hope the rest of the country takes into consideration," Christie said.