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Tory Moore: A Home Away from Home

Story by Annie Muscato

Home. For some people, it is a building that holds memories from growing up. It could be a room, decorated in paintings and tapestries. Others see home as a person. Perhaps a mother, father, sister or brother that can be reached with a quick dialing of the phone. Home can also be a community of people that one is surrounded by, accompanied by a sense of belonging and value. While many often have more than one “home,” alumna Tory Moore found home in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC).

For Moore, a lot of factors help contribute to her department feeling like home. There was a combination of material specifically relating to agriculture, classes that taught her skills needed by the industry she was interested in, and strong faculty mentorship that made AEC the perfect fit. read more...

Chris Vitelli: Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Story by Annie Muscato

The path for each alumnus of the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) is unique. For some, it travels straight into a job within the agriculture and natural resources industry, others funnel into the classroom, and there are still some students that continue their education by pursuing a graduate or professional degree. Chris Vitelli found his path as an AEC alumnus roaming across the country, consistently tied with higher education. read more...

Kati Lawson: Molded through Mentorship

Story by AEC
Photos provided by Kati Lawson

For Kati Lawson, the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) has been closely woven into her life, but there is a common thread that seems to pull everything together: mentorship.

As a high school student from Okeechobee, Florida, Lawson was bound and determined to attend Flagler College in Saint Augustine. Yet, her parents, with other intentions, carefully persuaded her to tour the University of Florida (UF). It was on this tour that Lawson met an individual that today she regards as a close mentor. His name was Dr. Ricky Telg, and he still works as a teacher, researcher, adviser and mentor for many in AEC today.

It was the interaction that Lawson and Telg had that guided her to redefine her dream and attend UF for her undergraduate degree. read more...

Panama Updates

Blog updates from our study abroad group while in Panama

Dr. JC Bunch is in Panama with five students, studying agricultural issues in another country. Our students are providing daily updates about their trip here!

Hola de Panama! 

Day one’s adventure included leaving Gainesville bright and early to make it Orlando for our flight, which left at !0:30 a.m. After a three and a half hour flight we arrived in Panama City, Panama in the early afternoon. Once Kevin, our in-country tour guide, picked us up from the airport, we experienced Panamanian rush-hour traffic. Gainesville’s rush hour has nothing on Panama City’s rush hour!  read more...

Students waiting to take off in the airport for their AEC study abroad

Bob Graham Center Internship

Guest Blog by Heather Ryan
Photos provided by Heather Ryan

“Our partisan divide exists only between the engaged and the apathetic.” This statement was powerfully spoken at a pivotal chapter of my early collegiate career. These words have since served as the pillar foundation for each of my experiences as an undergraduate student in the department of Agricultural Education & Communication (AEC) at the University of Florida (UF). Leadership, public service, and community development have been the central themes of my extracurricular pursuits that allow me to mobilize diverse people groups together not only on campus, but throughout the surrounding Gainesville community as a collective.  

Thanks to the support offered through the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, I have shared the privilege and joy of serving as 1 of 4 students in the year-long fellowship program downtown at City Hall. Our roles span across a widespread set of skills and disciplines including visual design, urban planning, and policy research. In particular, the scope of my current position is centered on community and civic engagement projects throughout the city. read more...


Guest Blog by Jessica Harsh
Photos provided by Sarah LaRose and AECGSA

AEC GSA is the graduate student association within the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC). One of my favorite parts of AEC GSA is the people who are associated with the group; it is truly like a family. The organization is advised by Drs. Laura Warner and CC Suarez, and there is also a mentorship program that pairs new students with an older student within your specialization.

I quickly came to find out that my mentor and I were like two peas in a pod. She showed me the ropes and served as a great support person throughout my first couple semesters at the University of Florida (UF) and as an AEC graduate student. The mentorship program is invaluable and something that makes the group unique and more personal. read more...

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...