Experiential Learning at the Happiest Place on Earth

Guest Blog by Gabriel Spandau
Photos provided by Gabriel Spandau and Becky Raulerson

Gabriel Spandau is an AEC student majoring in communication and leadership development. In the fall of 2017, he lived in Orlando and worked as an intern at Epcot, one of the parks at Disney World.

My name is Gabriel Spandau and I am currently a student in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) completing an Internship at Disney World where I run a Greenhouse that is part of the Living with the Land boat ride. This internship has taught me more than I could have ever imagined about hydroponics, food production, and team work. I work alongside 16 other interns to help maintain all the greenhouses and aqua cell. Through working with all of the other interns who are college students and graduates, I have developed friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime. read more...

Micah Scanga: Connecting the Dots in Agriculture

Story by AEC
Photos provided by Micah Scanga

“Hi.” It was a simple word that caused an unexpected turn in the undergraduate career of sophomore Micah Scanga. His first two years at the University of Florida (UF) were not spent in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, and Scanga was struggling to connect to his studies. That is, until he wandered into the office of former academic program specialist Jodi (DeGraw) Modica, who turned around and greeted Scanga with a simple “Hi.”

“It’s weird and cliché,” said Scanga, “but it really took me back. This was one of the first times someone stopped what they were doing and seemed excited to teach me about their program. It was the first time I felt a personal connection and the more I learned, the more I liked. 

Scanga’s collegiate career was a positive developmental experience for him, but he realized, while what he learned in the classroom was important, the power of connection was something that grew with him even more. AEC provided Scanga with many personal connections that would last far beyond his commencement ceremony. read more...

Why AEC? From the Desk of a Graduate Student

Guest Blog by Cameron Outlaw
Photos provided by Cameron Outlaw

As I sifted through the options for what was to come next in my life, I kept returning to the possibility of a master’s degree in leadership development. Upon starting my master’s, this program has met me with challenges, opportunities, and some great friends.

The program in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC), with its specialization in leadership development possessed many attractive qualities, but the trilogy of healthy community, academic opportunities, and brilliant faculty practically made my decision for me. As cliché as it may sound, the department functions as a family; a diverse, high-caliber, high-performing family. read more...

Alumni: Stay Connected

Our alumni go out into the world and change it for the better. They create an impact through small ripples and large waves to improve the industries of agriculture and natural resources. As agricutluralists, we have an obligation to advance our industry to meet the needs to feed a growing population. 

This is done is smaller steps, steps that are achieved every day through and recognized with new jobs, awards or fresh opportunities. We want to be part of those steps. Please consider subscribing to our alumni newsletter to stay in touch with us. Three times a year, we will send so some stories from our alumni, some of the work of our current students, and some department updates. 

But, one of our biggest desires is to hear from you. Send us an update. Tell us about your new job. Tell us about one of your old coworkers who is changing the world. We just want to hear from you. subscribe here...

P4H Global: Earthquake Devastation to Education Revolution

Story by Jarred Shellhouse
Photos provided by Bertrhude Albert

After a devastating earthquake affected millions of people in the country of Haiti in 2010, Haitian-American sophomore Bertrhude Albert wanted to find a way to help. An English major with a desire to provide some relief to the people of Haiti, Albert suggested making a trip to Haiti to her friend, Priscilla Zelaya. The two influenced 17 other University of Florida (UF) students to join them, and during spring break of 2011, the 19 undergraduate students took about 400 pounds of clothes, shoes and food to the Haitian communities.

Toward the end of the week in Haiti, Albert and Zelaya sat down to speak with some of the community leaders. The two felt proud of the relief they provided to these communities. They felt that they had truly made a difference, and truth-be-told, they had. However, the difference they made wasn’t the positive impact for which they hoped. Speaking with the community leaders, the two learned they actually hurt the Haitian communities they so wanted to help.

“See that man over there,” one community leader told them. “He makes shoes. No one will be buying from him for a few weeks because of all the shoes you brought us.” The same was true for other merchants who made clothes, or farmers who relied on their sales to live. Albert and Zelaya still wanted to help the people of Haiti, however they realized their aid should not come in the form of donated goods, but rather in education. Thus, Projects for Haiti (later P4H Global) was born. read more...

Backyard Commencement Ceremony

Post by Jarred Shellhouse
Photo provided by Gordon Yoder
Video courtesy of President Fuchs via Twitter (@PresidentFuchs)

It's commencement day. The day you've been waiting for. The culmination of all of the exams, presentations, research hours, studying and papers has arrived. It is finally time to put on the cap and gown, turn the tassle, grab your diploma and celebrate because, well, you deserve it.

But, what happens if you can't actually attend your commencement ceremony? We hope this never has to happen to you, but on the off chance that you have another commitment at the same time as your commencement ceremony, we hope you have a friend like Gordon Yoder. read more...

A Letter to my Freshman Self

Dear freshman Teresa,

I am proud of the woman you are today, and the adversity you have overcome to reach where you are. In a few days you will graduate from the University of Florida, an accomplishment that you think will never come. Let me assure you, the next three and a half years will fly by much faster than you think. Little by little your degree audit will turn from red to black as you complete classes, and adulthood will quickly approach. It’s cheesy to say, but I wish I could go back and tell you a few things… read more...

In the words of our alumni

Story by Jarred Shellhouse
Photos provided by featured alumni

AEC is fortunate to have such a great network of alumni that have gone off to have quite successful careers. As we near our Homecoming game, we wanted to check in with some of those alumni to see what they have been up to since they put on that cap and gown and received their diplomas. read more...

AEC in Panama

This spring, AEC is taking students to earn course credit in the country of Panama! The AEC study abroad program has previously traveled to the country of Belize, but spring break 2018 will allow students to immerse themselves in the culture of Panama to gain a new perspective on the country's agricultural issues. read more...

AEC Impact: Developing a Skilled Agricultural Workforce

Story by Andrea Davis

Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) professor emeritus Dr. Kirby Barrick has partnered with Egyptian agricultural schools to improve existing agricultural programs, develop an improved agricultural work force, and ultimately, create a strong national economy. 

Barrick worked on three unique projects designed to achieve this goal. These projects partnered with Egyptian agricultural universities and agricultural technical schools (comparable to vocational high schools) to develop curriculum, enhance teaching, provide student internships and assemble advisory councils. read more...