Feature: 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 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 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.