Internship with USDA-APHIS-PPQ – By Cory Penca

Featured: DPM Spring 2018 Newsletter

I am a pathways intern at the USDA-APHIS-PPQ office in Gainesville. I began this internship in June 2017, and since then I have had a chance to learn about PPQ-Florida’s operations and the overall structure and culture of working in a federal agency. I have shadowed citrus health response personnel and fruit fly trappers in the Tampa area, attended a review of CBP port inspections in West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce, and traveled to Raleigh, NC to visit the Center for Plant Health Science and Technology and the Plant Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Laboratory.
I’ve also worked on some very interesting projects, including a study of cruise ship gardens as a pathway for the introduction of exotic pests. I am currently finishing up a case study on the recent outbreak of the Mediterranean fruit fly in the Dominican Republic, and my findings will be used to help support the use of trapping and pest surveillance to reduce the threat of such a large and expensive outbreak occurring again.
My experience as a DPM student has parlayed well into my internship. The mission of USDA-APHIS-PPQ is to protect American agriculture from exotic pests of all types, and an interdisciplinary perspective is required to achieve this goal.