Horticulture group at Epcot’s The Land exhibit for a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the hydroponics, tissue culture research and food production in the exhibit. From left to right. Standing: Michael Pundt, Amanda Burrell, Seth Fowler, Jonathan Peppers; Kneeling: Christian Nelms, Cary Fulghum, Standing: Chance Young, Johnny Payne, John Mather, Craig Thurmond
North Georgia Technical College horticulture students recently returned from a hands-on, behind-the-scenes horticulture field trip to Disneyworld in Orlando, Fla., where gorgeous plants and lush greenery are an abundant learning tool.
NGTC horticulture instructor Craig Thurmond hosted the trip and explained that the tour of the grounds at Disneyworld demonstrated the many aspects of the horticulture industry.
“My goal was to expose the students to some of the best, green industry jobs available and broaden their perspectives on the green industry while learning about internship and career opportunities,” said Thurmond. “The students were really amazed by the attention to detail and the planning necessary to operate such a large facility and how important communication and overall knowledge of horticulture is to be successful long term in the industry. Each student that attended has returned to class with more determination and confidence knowing that what we are doing at NGTC is helping them prepare for a career that they are qualified for when they graduate.”
Thurmond, NGTC Horticulture Lab Assistant John Mather, and students met with the world’s largest producer of trees, Cherry Lake Tree Farm, and learned about root development systems with Cherry Lake CEO Tim Salin. They also visited Epcot’s “The Land” exhibit and went behind the scenes to learn about the inner workings of the exhibit’s hydroponics, tissue culture research and food production. They also were able to meet with a horticulturist from the Greenhouse Operations Student Program, and experience a “Behind the Seeds” tour from the Agricultural Sciences at Epcot.
“All of the individuals that we meet with were very focused on what the students should be doing to get a job, what they should learn in college and how they should open their minds to the very diverse industry we all work in,” said Thurmond. “It was a great learning tool for me to show the students many of the plants we identify from slides and never have the chance to actually see, as well as to let the students see some of my work in various places at Disney and surrounding areas.”
Student Michal Pundt from Clarkesville, Ga., said it was a wonderful learning experience he will never forget. “This was a great experience getting to see the green industry at its finest and being exposed to such a beautiful area of landscape,” said Pundt.
“I’m thankful for this great opportunity,” said horticulture student Christian Nelms from Toccoa, Ga. “I definitely learned a lot about career options and the scale of work at Disney.”
Other students who attended included Amanda Burrell from Clayton, Ga.; Seth Fowler from Lula, Ga.; Jonathan Peppers from Clermont, Ga.; Chance Young from Summerville, Ga.; and Johnny Payne from Toccoa, Ga.
Thurmond was just as thankful as the students were to be able to experience such a big-scale field trip, which was made possible by the funds the students raised at their recent NGTC horticulture plant sales on the Clarkesville Campus.
“I think now the students realize that our industry is truly unlimited as far as a career path is concerned,” explained Thurmond. “One thing that every student took away from this experience was that just because we are from a rural area in Northeast Georgia, that does not mean that the world is small. They now see that it is an open stage for career opportunities, and I hope they will follow the path of a possible Disney internship and maybe a career.”
For more information about the horticulture program or other programs at NGTC, visit northgatech.edu or call 706-754-7700.
Laura Kleiss shows this fluted pumpkin and explains the differences in food production using sustainable methods for plants from around the world in the controlled environment at the Agricultural Sciences in Epcot.
Horticulture students touring the newly renovated Polynesian Resort to see the natural water features and the use of tropical plants in the interior of the grand lobby.
Craig Thurmond explains to the horticulture students about some of the design features and tropical plant material in and around Epcot’s World Showcase.