Experiential Learning at the Happiest Place on Earth

Guest Blog by Gabriel Spandau
Photos provided by Gabriel Spandau & 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.

Being part of AEC was one of the keys to my success in this internship. Before I started at UF, I really knew nothing about agriculture or the issues surrounding the general public's education on the subject. After taking "Issues in Agriculture" with Ms. Becky Raulerson I learned an incredible amount about the agriculture industry and the lack of knowledge the general public had about the industry. This class was actually what cemented my interest in agriculture and made me want to learn more about what I could do to help change the perception of agriculture for those who did not grow up surrounded by it.

One of the main reasons we are here at the Land working as interns is to give tours to Disney guests. I give about four to five tours a week that last a little over an hour. During these tours I take guests through all the greenhouses and the aqua cell explaining everything we do and why the Land is here. By doing this, I get to educate people about hydroponics, recycling, harvesting practices, and food production. This could not have been a more perfect experience for me. I am able to teach people about things that I am doing hands on everyday and I get to learn about the gaps of knowledge that many people have when it comes to agriculture. This provides me with the ability to narrow down the areas in agriculture where education is lacking the most.

The main point is that we need to learn more so we can teach people about the agricultural industry in any way we can to help remove the misconceptions that surround the industry. My internship at the Land and my AEC classes are helping to prepare me to do just that. I highly encourage anyone who is interested in agriculture or teaching to look into the internship at The Land and the AEC major  at the University of Florida. You would not believe how much can be learned in such a small amount of time.

Gabriel Spandau spent the autumn semester as an intern at Walt Disney World's Epcot, specifically working with a greenhouse in the Living with the Land boat ride.

Spandau immersed himself into the agricultural realm, learning about hydroponics and food production, and was able to help educate the public about the systems with which he was working.

Spandau stops for a photo with AEC lecturer Becky Raulerson, who was supervising his internship experience.