Internship Stories

Spring Internship with Glades Crop Care – By Kayla Thomason, DPM Spring 2017 Newsletter

This Spring I had the opportunity to intern with Glades Crop Care in Jupiter, FL with Madeline and Charlie Mellinger. Working with a team of trained scouts and crop consultants, I learned how to identify many insect and disease pests in sweet corn, cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, radishes, and potatoes. Sweet corn was the crop I spent the most time scouting during my internship. This internship has helped me take the technical information that I’ve learned in classes, apply it to field settings, and pinpoint problems that growers were facing. My internship was extremely valuable and has contributed to my knowledge base.

Internship with FDACS DPI – By Nicole Casuso, DPM Spring 2017 Newsletter

During my internship with the Technical Assistance Department at DPI, I was granted the creative freedom to develop a innovative, visual, and interactive displays that represented the Division at the Florida State Fair held in Tampa, FL in February 2017. Celebrating the theme, DPI: 100 Years of Protecting Florida’s Plant and Apiary Industry, the Division’s presence was going to be larger than previous years and stand as the central feature in the Ag Exhibit Hall at the fairgrounds. As an adoring fan of museums and creative, hands-on education tactics, I dove into the vastness of the internet and utilized personal experiences to draft many ideas for the state fair exhibit. We wanted the DPI exhibit to tell a story and highlight the importance of the Division for audiences of all ages and professional backgrounds.

I designed the overall exhibit layout as well as several key display items with assistance from my coworkers in TA and staff from the Division’s five technical Bureaus (Plant and Apiary Inspection; Entomology, Nematology, and Plant Pathology [includes Botany]; Methods Development and Biological Con-trol; Citrus Budwood Registration; and Pest Eradication and Control).

A few main exhibit components included: Florida’s Agriculture at a Glance (a diorama depicting common or intercepted pests and diseases in ornamen-tal, agricultural, and natural landscapes along with general statistics about FL agriculture and the importance of soils); Endangered Flora of Florida (a reference guide containing factsheets based on 12 of the 49 federally listed endangered plants present in the state); and Trap Tree (real-life traps used in pest surveying efforts hanging from a structure that placed the size, texture, color, and shape into perspective for fairgoers).

My experiences with DPI and TA allowed me to hone several leadership qualities, from prioritizing and effective communication to balancing confidence and humility. I gained exposure to tasks that I had not before endeavored to complete. I formed new professional connections and inte-grated myself into the Division network. Many people, fairgoers and DPI staff alike, do not realize how much preparation and comprehensive planning is undertaken to prepare a successful, informative, and visually appealing dis-play for events such as the state fair. College-level curriculum and external work/internship experiences are equally important to students, such as myself, and young professionals interested in pursuing careers in agricultural extension and education.

Nicole Casuso
Summer Internship with Dow AgroSciences – By Nicole Casuso DPM Fall 2015 Newsletter Article

This summer I had the privilege of working at the Indianapolis Global Headquarters for Dow AgroSciences (DAS). I served as an intern in Discover Biology – Crop Protection in Insect Management. My supervisor was Dr. Frank Wessels, a UF Entomology Department alumnus.

Vinegar FlyI spent most of my time in the lab conducting behavioral bioassays with vinegar flies and grasshoppers. At the end of my 13 week substantial internship in Indy, I had the opportunity to present my project results during a student poster session with the other summer interns. The experience I had working with DAS was very enriching. I gained exposure and insight into what a career in industry entails as well as valuable lab training and poster presentation skills I did not previously have.

Kayla Adele Thomason
Summer Internship with Syngenta – By Kayla Thomason DPM Spring 2015 Newsletter Article
Last summer, I had the opportunity to work with Syngenta at their research station in Vero Beach, FL in their weed control department. I learned how to conduct and evaluate field and greenhouse trials as well as how to effectively identify some major weeds. Some of the trials Kayla Adele Thomason included the following topics: nozzle efficacy tests, herbicide tests for to-be-labeled-chemicals for minor crop use, and dose response tests for rotational crops. Overall, the experience was quite enjoyable. I was able to work with many talented scientists who took any opinions I had about the trials into consideration while pushing me to think outside the box and further develop my problem-solving abilities. This opportunity has allowed me to create memorable connections for the future.

Carla Burke
Summer Entomology Internship with Driscoll Strawberry Associates, Inc. – By Carla Calvert Burkle DPM Fall 2014 Newsletter Article
I had the privilege of working this summer as an Entomology Intern with Driscoll Strawberry Associates, Inc.’s Global Research and Development unit in Watsonville, CA. Driscoll’s is a family-owned company that began with Ed Reiter and Dick Driscoll growing ‘Sweet Briar’ strawberries in California’s Pajaro Valley in 1904. Driscoll’s has grown into a multi-national operation with production in 18 countries on 5 different continents and an annual revenue of $1-2 billion. Driscoll’s breeds their own varieties of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries which they Karla Burke grow and distribute in cooperation with private growers. Driscoll’s nationally recruits students for their internship program, and my multidisciplinary, applied Doctor of Plant Medicine training was a good fit for their objectives. I developed an integrated pest management applied research project with Driscoll’s Entomology Lead Dr. Michael Seagraves to support their ongoing efforts to control spotted wing drosophila. I assisted with weekly monitoring of western flower thrips and two-spotted spider mites in organic strawberry fields in the Salinas Valley, Driscoll and consulted with the breeding and plant pathology units as well. My internship was a challenging but rewarding opportunity to apply the extensive training I’ve received the last four years across the DPM disciplines of entomology and nematology, soil and water science, agronomy, horticulture, and plant pathology. Though I was an entomology intern, my multidisciplinary training facilitated a richer experience for both Driscoll’s and me.

Alicyn Ryan

Summer Crop Protection and Food Safety Internship with Pleasant Valley Gardens Farm in Methuen, Massachusetts – By Alicyn Ryan DPM Fall 2014 Newsletter Article

This internship fulfilled a requirement for my USDA National Needs Fellowship and counted as a substantial industry internship for the DPM Program. My goal was to create a Harmonized Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) program for the farm while gaining hands on experience in food production. As an approaching fourth year student who has spent all of her free time in the Alicyn Ryan Plant Diagnostic Clinic on campus, I was amazed how much in class/lab experience I was able to apply to situations in the field. This was eye opening to me; I realized how much I had learned these past three years working towards my DPM with each problem that was presented.

Besides identifying and giving recommendations for controlling pests, I also learned basic farm work, such as fixing a leak in the drip tape, using a dosatron to fertigate with and tilling with an $87,000 tractor! The owner of Pleasant Valley Gardens, Dr. Rich Bonanno, is employed by UMass as a Senior Extension Specialist and also the president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation. Due to this position, I was able to Alicyn Ryan attend a number of meetings with Dr. Bonanno where I was able to speak with to the commissioners of agriculture from New England and others involved in the agricultural industry. Besides making a food safety plan, I also completed a food safety presentation that will be used on the UMass food safety websites. This hands on experience was crucial for me during my last year in the DPM program as it has given me an improved confidence and awareness of my DPM skill set.