By Teresa Suits, agricultural education and communication master’s student (BS ’17)
The magic of Mickey Mouse is everywhere, even two hours north of Walt Disney World in the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Walt Disney World provides CALS students with many opportunities. Through internships to the Disney College Program, students have several opportunities to learn about what it takes to run an entertainment powerhouse. Gabriel Spandau, an agricultural education and communication senior, is an example of one CALS student who took advantage of Walt Disney World’s professional internship program.
From June 2017 to January 2018, Spandau completed a plant science internship in Epcot’s “The Land,” where he and another intern maintained a greenhouse in the famous boat ride attraction. At Walt Disney World, Spandau “learned more than he could have ever imagined.”
Growing up in urban Boca Raton, Florida, Spandau did not have much experience working with agriculture until he came to the University of Florida. CALS prepared him with the tools he needed to succeed in his internship through AEC3065 Issues in Agricultural & Life Sciences, taught by UF/IFAS lecturer Becky Raulerson. As part of his internship, Spandau gave tours of the greenhouses. Through Raulerson’s class, Spandau learned how to communicate common misconceptions in agriculture on these tours.
Spandau’s strong work ethic and eager attitude enabled him to care for the hanging plants in the greenhouses and take on new opportunities. During his time at Walt Disney World, Spandau was able to grow garnishes for Disney’s annual Food and Wine Festival. He also had the opportunity to collaborate with other interns, such as working with the fish tanks featured on the boat ride tour of the greenhouses.
Spandau hopes to return to Walt Disney World as a research intern to gain more experience in the horticultural industry.
Happy 90th birthday to the mouse who has provided endless opportunities for CALS students! If you are interested in learning more about how you can put your agricultural, life sciences, and natural resources skills to use at Walt Disney World, visit here to apply for the Disney College Program.