Digging Deeper into Potato Production
UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) food and resource economics (FRE) student Paul Hawkins spent his summer in Windsor, South Carolina, as an operations intern for Walther Farms. He is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree and plans to graduate in Spring 2022.
Walther Farms is a third-generation family-owned business that grows potatoes specifically for potato chips. They sell their potatoes to customers including Frito-Lay and Snyder’s-Lance.
As an intern for Walther Farms, Hawkins is responsible for a variety of operations tasks such as coordinating trucks to be loaded, ensuring they are where they need to be, and informing the harvest line manager of which truck needs to be loaded next. Walther Farms has attended the CALS Career Expo and often provides internship experiences and employment opportunities for CALS students and graduates. Hawkins was introduced to this internship by his brother, who completed the same internship as a CALS student.
Hawkins said his major in FRE prepared him for this internship because his classes taught him the concepts related to moving agricultural products, which he is getting to now experience first-hand through this summer internship. The people Hawkins has met at the farm in Windsor and the knowledge he has gained from each of these individuals are Hawkins’ favorite parts of this internship experience. While Hawkins has learned many things on the job throughout the summer, his personal highlights include testing soil moisture by hand, to determine how much water needs to be used for the potatoes to thrive, and growing and transporting the potatoes to their final destination.
The food and resource economics department focuses on teaching, research, and extension related to the food and agricultural systems in Florida. Graduates from this undergraduate program go on to careers in sales, finance, management, economics, and more, working with companies in the food sector, as well as with environmental and statistical organizations and businesses. To discover internship or employment opportunities with Walther Farms, visit their website. For more information about career planning and assistance preparing to secure an internship of your own, visit the CALS Career Planning webpage.