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Experience Matters

Our Research Farm Interns are Learning Skills for a Lifetime
Photo: Hands-on farm internships build  skills for a lifetime.
Hands-on farm internships let students experience real-world applications.

Prior to summer 2008, the closest John Bolton ('10 Plant Biology and Pathology) came to farming while growing up in Woodbury, NJ, was riding his bicycling around nearby farms with his friends. Although his grandfather had grown his own food, John had no experience with farming and certainly had not considered pursuing agricultural sciences as a career. But now, armed with his summer 2008 Undergraduate Research Farm Internship with the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, John is contemplating graduate school research options in plant breeding.

John has remarked that his paid summer research farm internship provided "a good wage, and definitely added value" to his undergraduate experience compared to typical summer jobs. He found that the paid summer internship "is a valuable asset to students who take advantage of it."

John interned at Rutgers Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension. The center develops new cultivars for industry and looks at ways to minimize the use of pesticides in the culture of these crops. At Marucci, John's mentor was Professor Nick Vorsa, who was awarded the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison patent award for his work on the Crimson Queen, which is only the second cranberry variety in the United States to be patented. It's no wonder, then, that John is now interested in plant breeding as the focus of his graduate studies.

John recalled that his first memorable internship experience was using an electronic "antenna gram," a research tool Professor Cesar Rodriguez uses at the center to measure how cranberry moth pests respond to sex pheromones. John worked outdoors and in greenhouses, planted research cranberry bogs, and gained basic plant maintenance skills, which he noted "was better than punching numbers in a computer." He also assisted in blueberry work. Professors and farm staff were there when needed to help perform challenging hands-on tasks the right way, John said, and these skills will be valuable assets in graduate school.

John is currently vice president of the Competitive Intelligence Club at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and has a 3.2 GPA.

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences