Q&A – A ‘Magical’ Internship

Story by Emma Wilson (’18 agricultural education and studies and journalism and mass communication)

Image by Christopher Gannon

Hunter Hamilton, a former state officer for the Iowa FFA organization, lives by a creed familiar to many FFA members—one of leadership, service and advancing agriculture. However, Hamilton also lives by a more personal motto: to always keep learning.

That’s just what he did when he took an internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The junior, majoring in agricultural education teacher certification minoring in horticulture, reflects on his “magical” experience.

Q: What did your experience at Walt Disney World include?
A: I worked alongside 17 other interns from around the nation in a dome-structured greenhouse. It was hot and sweaty, and it took me awhile to get acclimated to the Florida weather, but I made some amazing friends. We grew any kind of food crop you could imagine, but in a creative way. From edible flowers, to growing plants in the middle of the air, it was a one-of-a-kind experience. We’d harvest a crop and give it to restaurants on the property. We took a farm-to-table approach.

Q: What was your most rewarding experience at Disney?
A: I met a ton of incredible families and really enjoyed educating the public. Some people on my tours were from agricultural backgrounds, but a lot of people knew nothing about agriculture. The experience of teaching those families something about food production was really rewarding for me.

Q: How did being a state FFA officer prepare you for this internship?
A: The experience helped me develop communication skills. Going into high school I was very shy, but once I became involved and started connecting with people I realized FFA was my thing. The best part of my job was giving tours. I did two to seven tours a week about what we were growing in the greenhouses and the basis of agricultural production. FFA set me up for success not only by being able to talk about agriculture, but also speaking proficiently and professionally while understanding other perspectives.

Q: What motivates you to be an agricultural educator/FFA adviser?
A: My high school FFA adviser had a great influence on me. She took this shy freshman and watched him transform into a state officer. It’s really not about my goals, though. It’s seeing students who want to go out and conquer the world and helping them achieve their dreams. I believe there are endless opportunities available in agriculture. I want every student who walks into my future classroom to grow and achieve their dreams. I want to be the teacher who gives them the opportunity to get involved and step outside their comfort zones.