Jason Henderson, Purdue University Extension director; Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture; Norman McCowan, the 2013 Indiana Agrivision Award recipient; Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann; and Gina Sheets, the director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (from left) pose for a picture while honoring McCowan’s accomplishments in the aquaculture industry in Indiana.
Jason Henderson, Purdue University Extension director; Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture; Norman McCowan, the 2013 Indiana Agrivision Award recipient; Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann; and Gina Sheets, the director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (from left) pose for a picture while honoring McCowan’s accomplishments in the aquaculture industry in Indiana.

REDKEY, Ind. — The only thing fishy about this year’s Indiana Agrivision Award recipient is his passion for aquaculture and growing it into a billion-dollar industry.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann presented Norman McCowan, president and chief executive officer of Bell Aquaculture in Redkey, with the Indiana Agrivision Award, which is given to a Hoosier involved in agriculture for their demonstration, vision, innovation and leadership in the industry.

“The vision, team building and sense of service he has consistently shown is an asset to his business, his specific industry, the state and national agricultural sectors and his community. The efforts of citizens like Norman are what make Hoosier agriculture such a great success story,” Ellspermann said.

McCowan, who was nominated for the award by his peers in the agriculture community, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Indiana Soybean Alliance, noted that his love for fish stems from his childhood days when he would catch minnows and figure out the water and the temperature in which the fish thrived.

Today, that boyhood hobby has turned into something much bigger as McCowan now oversees all of the work that goes into producing Bell Aquaculture’s farm-raised yellow perch.

“Yellow perch is a very white and flakey fish,” he said, adding that it also is mild in taste, which is good because many people like the benefit of eating fish, but don’t necessarily want it to taste like fish.

McCowan mentioned that being honored with the Agrivision award was really important to him for several reasons, especially that aquaculture now is recognized as a part of the agriculture industry in Indiana.

He added that being presented with the award gives him the opportunity to continue his platform of helping Hoosiers and others across the country realize the potential for growing aquaculture into a billion-dollar industry, as well as spreading the message that Indiana has the capability to produce its own seafood without having to import it.

Not only does McCowan believe that Hoosiers have the capability and an abundance of the most important natural resource to hatching and raising fish — water — he also feels that aquaculture can benefit farmers who grow soybeans by turning their crop into a value-added product through giving it to fish as a nutritious feed source. The fish at Bell Aquaculture are fed a soy-based diet.