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Austin Peay State University (APSU)
Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University (APSU) graduate Khadejah Scott’s Epcot story involves wasps.
“They don’t sting, and they’re really small,” Scott said, “similar to the size of an ant when they’re at their biggest.”
But these wasps could deliver a big economic impact.
Scott is on an agricultural sciences professional internship at Disney World through the end of January, and she has many jobs rotating through Epcot’s 2.5 million square feet of greenhouses, where food is produced for much of the park’s restaurants.
If you’ve been to Epcot, you might know where Scott is working: The park has a 13-minute boat ride named “Living with the Land” that traverses the greenhouses.
The greenhouses also give scientists like Scott a place to research high-yield growing techniques, including vertical gardens, a giant trellised “tomato tree,” and hydroponic and aeroponic gardens.
But Scott said the most important job she’s had is researching those tiny wasps, which is part of Epcot’s entomology program.
Meet The Wasps – Opius Dissitus
Epcot’s research focuses on how a certain wasp – aka opius dissitus – might make crops hardier against infestation from leaf miner flies.
Leaf miners are an invasive pest that lays eggs directly inside the leaves of such plants as celery, tomatoes, potatoes and beans. The larvae damage the plants by burrowing through the leaves. Predators and pesticides have a hard time getting to the larvae because they’re inside the leaf.
The University of Florida lists the wasps as a potential biological control of leaf miners and cites the leaf miner research at Epcot.
Realizing A Disney Dream
Scott traveled to Walt Disney World with her family during spring break in 2015.
“The trip was absolutely amazing and definitely made its way in the top 10 memories of my life,” she said. “We visited Epcot, and it changed my life. I remember being overwhelmed with happiness, so much to the point where I thought, ‘I have to work here one day.’”
Since that trip, she periodically looked for Disney World job postings. The third year was the charm, she said.
“I am so fortunate to be working here and have had an amazing time.”
Planting The Epcot Campus Red
Scott, who graduated this spring from APSU with a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, went through three rounds of interviews before landing the Epcot internship.
She credits APSU and the mentorship of Dr. Donald Sudbrink, chair of the University’s Department of Agriculture, for her success.
“He’s been with me since I got here, mentoring me, teaching me,” Scott said.
“I had really fond memories of Einstein’s (Einstein Bros. Bagels),” Scott said. “I just remember having coffee with my sister and my parents.”
She kept fond memories of APSU through college, and now she shows full Gov pride at Epcot, where her name tag even has the University’s name.
“I love rocking my Austin Peay gear, even here,” she said. “I’m always trying to get the conversation started about Austin Peay.”
Visit The Disney Greenhouses
Scott has a unique position at Epcot because she works in all the greenhouses. She described each this way (these are just a few of the details):
To Learn More
For more about the Living with the Land ride and the greenhouses at The Land Pavilion, visit https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/living-with-the-land/.
For more about Austin Peay’s Department of Agriculture, go to https://www.apsu.edu/agriculture/.
If bugs are your thing, learn more about Epcot’s wasps, opius dissitus, at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/wasps/opius_dissitus.htm.
TopicsAPSU, APSU Department of Agriculture, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville TN, Disney, Donald Sudbrink, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Epcot, Greenhouses, Khadejah Scott, University of Florida., Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World Resort
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