Internship Stories

  • Matt Borden: Bartlett Tree Experts

    During the summer of 2019, I interned for Bartlett Tree Experts at the Tree Research Laboratories & Arboretum in Charlotte, North Carolina. I spent most of my time in the diagnostics lab, examining samples of symptomatic trees and shrubs and writing recommendation reports following a diagnosis. There was no shortage of fascinating plant problems, as the lab annually receives around 9,000 samples for diagnosis from Bartlett branches nationwide, as well as coordinating hundreds of foliar nutrient samples and around 16,000 soil nutrient analyses for prescription fertilization. A favorite part of the experience was the surrounding arboretum that Bartlett cultivates, containing over 15,000 accessioned plants, including vast collections of conifers, oak, holly, elm, crapemyrtle, rhododendron, and the largest collection of magnolia cultivars in the world!

    I enjoyed the diagnostics work immensely, especially gaining exposure to conifer pests and diseases from other regions,and photographing many pests and diseases that I’d never before seen in-person. Outside of the lab, I was also able to learn and practice structural pruning, proactive health care through tree inventory management, and take ride-along opportunities with plant health care technicians and arborist representatives. A particularly fun experience was learning to use climbing equipment and installing lightning protection cabling in a 110 ft sweet gum tree. I hopes that this job will open a new opportunity for future DPM students to gain experience in diagnostics and arboriculture, with one of the best, science-based tree-care companies in the world.”


  • Summer Internship with Arborjet – By Ariane McCorquodale

    Featured in the DPM Summer 2018 Newsletter

    During the summer of 2018, I had the opportunity to intern with Arborjet, a plant health care company that specializes in tree injection systems and tree pest management. The internship offered me a great chance to put my DPM skills to the test. I did bioassays on arthropod pests, plant pathogens, and soil organisms. I was given the freedom to design experiments, conduct my own data analyses, and make recommendations from those results. I was able to practice pathogen isolation and identification, and I got to work with some insects we don’t get in Florida, such as Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica).

    This internship also provided good exposure to how pest management research is driven in the private sector. Sales are what provides the funding to develop new products, so there is a lot of collaboration with marketing to make sure that whatever is being developed is something that consumers will want to buy. I got to see the development process for new pesticide formulations and learned a little about how regulations affect product labeling. Though there are many large pest management companies with great internship programs, I am very grateful that my internship was with a smaller company as I was exposed to all aspects of the product life cycle and I was able to meet and learn from people acting in a variety of roles.

  • 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.

  • Spring Internship with Glades Crop Care – By Kayla Thomason

    Featured: 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

    Featured: 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). Continue Reading →

  • Summer Internship with Dow AgroSciences – By Nicole Casuso

    Nicole CasusoFeatured: 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.

  • Summer Internship with Syngenta – By Kayla Thomason

    Kayla Adele ThomasonFeatured: 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.

  • Summer Entomology Internship with Driscoll Strawberry Associates, Inc. – By Carla Calvert Burkle

    Carla BurkeFeatured: 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.

  • Summer Crop Protection and Food Safety Internship with Pleasant Valley Gardens Farm in Methuen, Massachusetts – By Alicyn Ryan

    Alicyn Ryan

    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 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.