ORONO — University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development professional Carla Scocchi is the recipient of the 2021 Denise Miller National 4-H Innovator Award presented by the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals. The award “recognizes an individual or team who exemplifies innovation, accomplishment, and commitment in the design and delivery of a unique 4-H program” according to the NAE4-HYDP website.

Carla Scocchi, UMaine Extension 4-H youth development professional. Courtesy of University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Scocchi, along with award team members Melissa Malmstedt, education and outreach coordinator at the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, and Scarlett Tudor, education and outreach coordinator at the UMaine Aquaculture Research Institute, developed and delivered an at-home aquaponics program to reach youth with interests in fish, home aquaria or modern agricultural technology who were isolated at home during the pandemic. 

Melissa Malmstedt, education and outreach coordinator, University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research. Courtesy of University of Maine Cooperative Extension

A recent UMaine Today magazine story,“Hooked on Aquaponics,” describes the journey of one young student who loves fish, aquaponics and learning. “This project illustrates a successful virtual program that sustained a hands-on component on the ground. What defines the 4-H Aquaponics Project as innovative is not only that the experience could be replicated by other 4-H programs, but that it serves as a model for how 4-H can preserve its learn-by-doing approach in the post-pandemic world,” Scocchi said.

Tudor added, “Many of the skills that kids learn in this program are highly transferable to careers within and outside of aquaculture, all of which are extremely important to our workforce in Maine.”


More information is available on the UMaine Extension 4-H Aquaponics Project website. More information about the 4-H program is available on the UMaine Extension 4-H website, or by contacting 207-581-3877 or jessica.brainerd@maine.edu.