Article by UF/IFAS Extension Broward County Urban Horticulture Agent/CED Lorna Bravo
What is the UF/IFAS Extension Summer Internship Program?
The summer internship program is a collaboration between the Florida Cooperative Extension Service and the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Students participating in this paid internship will work with county UF/IFAS Extension faculty to deliver educational programming throughout Florida. Together with the local UF/IFAS Extension faculty, students will work in one or more of these program areas:
- Agricultural and horticultural enterprises
- Water resources
- Natural resources and environmental quality
- Individual and family development
- Community resources and economic development
- 4-H Youth Development
Meet Broward County’s UF Intern, Nikita Patel.
Nikita Patel is currently attending the University of Florida and pursuing a bachelor of science in Entomology and Nematology.
Nikita’s Summer Internship Project
This summer, Nikita is working with Broward County’s Extension urban horticulture program to experience the work and impact Extension agents conduct in their local communities.
Nikita will investigate how urban dwellers and growers are composting in the 2nd largest county in Florida ( 1.9 Million Residents). Based on a recent survey in Broward County, we found that critters and pests appear to be the biggest challenge urban dwellers face when composting. Her project will support food waste reduction by simplifying the science behind the building blocks that create compost and vermicomposting (worm composting).
How do urban dwellers and growers Compost?
During the summer, Nikita conducted several site visits with Broward County’s urban horticulture agent. They collected compost samples from various urban composting sites to evaluate the types of insects found in urban environments.“This project has taught me the importance of talking with the community to get a better understanding of county needs and the best ways to communicate scientific information. I hope that our urban horticulture composting project will help combat misconceptions about composting,” said Nikita Patel.
Did you know that Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic estimates that approximately 40% of food produced annually is never consumed in the United States, resulting in 62.5 million tons of food going to landfills?
Did you know that organics are one of the most significant fractions of waste, by weight, generated in the state of Florida?
- of the 47 million tons of MSW generated in 2020, organics accounted for 36% of Florida’s waste stream. Reducing organics in the waste stream is vital for Florida’s recycling goal.
What is organic waste?
- organics include food waste, yard trash, and paper.
Nikita plans to use her project findings and entomology background to work with Broward County extension agents and Master Gardener Volunteers ( MGVs). She intends to educate the community on the critical role of invertebrates in our food waste reduction. Nikita is excited to empower urban dwellers and reduce organics from our South Florida landfills. “I’m excited to share my knowledge of insects and invertebrates with my community. Broward Extension has allowed me to take what I learn from class and research and turn it into something that will benefit the public,” said Nikita Patel.
UF Summer Internship Information
Are you interested to read more about this exciting annual UF summer internship program?
You can find additional information here:
- College of Agricultural and Life Sciences – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences – UF/IFAS (ufl.edu)
Broward Extension is excited to collaborate on the impact Internships like this can have on the future career paths of UF students. UF Summer internships connect prospective UF alumni with UF/IFAS Extension’s mission. It empowers them to effectively communicate with research-based information and make a difference in Floridian’s lives.
- Florida and the 2020 75% Recycling Goal – Final Report (floridadep.gov)
- Take the Pledge | FW Prevention Week (savethefoodfl.com)
- NRDC: Wasted – How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill (PDF)
Interested to start your Vervicomposting Project? You can watch our YouTube videos to help you get started.
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