Honors Summer Snapshots: Justin

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Honors Horticulture student Justin Wigdahl spent time working in the happiest place on earth:

This summer was literally a dream come true for me. I got to spend my whole summer in the most magical place on earth! Walt Disney World! I worked along with 31ish other interns for Disney’s Horticulture Department. We got to work 3 weeks in the landscape at each park alongside the area gardeners who loved having us for the extra help and enthusiasm.

All the 28 horticulture interns got split into 4 teams which rotated through the parks together. This is my fantastic team. We are the Seven Dwarves. We got to learn the ins and outs of Disney Horticulture together.


The start of every workday begins with driving under this iconic sign at 4:30am.


Our last rotation is at Animal Kingdom. Today we spent the morning watering and pine-strawing (mulching with pine straw…pine straw = the brown stuff I have in my hand) the landscape in Pandora, the World of Avatar. The guests have a funny way of making all the pine straw disappear in a day…


… It was fine though cause we got to work in Disney’s newest land – which is beautiful!!


Like any new land at Disney, Pandora had some problems in the landscape. Some of the plants that came in for a boggy area were infected with leaf hoppers. My teammate, Tessa, and I had to take on the infected leaf bog and cut out all of the plants. They had random, unique projects like this for us at every park. Also, Disney is all about safety (Safe D Begins With Me is their motto) so we are always geared up in all the newest safety trends.


Usually at this point we would have lunch, but since that’s backstage and pictures backstage aren’t allowed, I’ll just substitute it with this picture of us weedwhacking the African savannah at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I found out the animals need mechanical help to keep all the grass mowed. If you look closely you can see the big mean cows with the big horns watching us from behind.


After work I typically hang out by the pool, cook, run, or go to the parks. Free admission to the Disney parks is amazing!! My roommates and I made it a tradition to go to Magic Kingdom every Friday night. Here we are zipping through infinity and beyond on Space Mountain.


We made it a goal to get as many character signatures on our backpacks as possible so I’ve rubbed shoulders with quite a few Disney characters. So far I have 30+ signatures scribbled all over my Jansport!


The fireworks at Disney are amazing! They have them at every park every night!(well, at least nighttime shows – Animal Kingdom can’t do fireworks). If it weren’t for the early morning work schedule I’d probably be watching fireworks every night. The new show at Magic Kingdom called Happily Ever After is my favorite!


There’s been so many incredible things I’ve gotten to do this summer at work at other parks! Here’s 1/2 that I’ll highlight: I got to learn how to use a gas-powered hedge trimmer on the Mickey Floral outside of Magic Kingdom!! (We didn’t actually get to trim his face, just the decorative swirls on either side) 50,000 people come through the entrance and take a picture of this landmark daily! That’s a lot of pressure! We learned that it’s all about control and remembering that we’re trimming plants, so if we mess up it’ll just grow back.


In Epcot, we got to jump into waders and trudge through the Chinese Reflection Pool. It had become hard to see your reflection through all the waterlily growth so we had to free up the surface space. Mulan songs were definitely sung. Pro tip: if you are really hot but don’t want to get wet, grab some waders and step into a pool or water body. It’s like free and personal air conditioning.


So that’s been a picture of my summer. Disney World is wonderful. I’d recommend anyone to spend some time as a cast member! But also, I’m so pumped to get back to Iowa and be back on campus. See ya real soon!


Btw, to all you Newsies and Broadway fans, I got to meet Stephanie Styles in Epcot! She was incredible and her mom is really nice too.




Honors Summer Snapshots: Bailey

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Bailey Mooney did some high altitude medical volunteering this summer:

Hi, my name is Bailey and I’m a junior majoring in Biochemistry and Genetics. This summer, like most, flew by so fast! I got to do a lot of amazing things including shadowing doctors, volunteering at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and working with a mobile medical clinic in Lima, Peru. A majority of my summer was spent working at Amana Colonies Golf Club. Although I do not know anything about golf, I’m really good at pretending! I am excited to get back to school, but I wouldn’t trade this summer for anything!

The highlight of my summer was definitely my trip to Peru. Here’s some pictures to show you how cool it was!

This was the area of Lima were we stayed, called Miraflores.


A picture of the building and community where we set up our mobile clinic for a day.


Inside the building mentioned above


A staircase we built to help community members better access their homes


The ISU crew!


My favorite Peruvian food, lomo saltado!


Honors Summer Snapshots: Allye

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Honors senior and Cyclone superfan Allye Bodholdt is wrapping up her second summer with ISU Athletics:

For the second summer in a row, I have been working with the Special Events team in the Iowa State Athletics Department, planning, setting up for, and carrying out unique events for Cyclone fans and athletic alumni. There have been several events this summer, including the Cyclone Tailgate Tour which I helped with in May, a Men’s Basketball Reunion which took place a few weekends ago, and Meet the Coaches Night which is coming up later in August.

This is the awesome event crew that I work with. My experience has been a great learning opportunity, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to be a part of!


The Cyclone Tailgate Tour is an event where we travel around the state of Iowa, making 12 different stops where Cyclone fans can meet some of Iowa State’s Head Coaches. The week before the Cyclone Tailgate Tour begins, I helped pack up everything we needed for each of the event stops. These were a few of the items we packed as a part of this year’s equipment try-on!


As a part of the event crew for the Tailgate Tour, I got to travel with these three guys for a couple of weeks. Not bad company to be in!


This past weekend, we hosted a Men’s Basketball Reunion, which included a social and dinner in Hilton Coliseum. Getting the chance to see so many Cyclone Greats sharing memories and celebrating their time at Iowa State was one of my favorite parts of the summer.


Honors Summer Snapshots: Peyton

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Honors sophomore Biological Systems Engineering student Peyton Russell took part in Land O’Lakes’s Global Food Challenge internship. Peyton was in a four-person team tasked with coming up with solutions to help with some facet of food insecurity. As a Global Food Challenge intern, Peyton spent his summer in the Twin Cities, Tanzania, South Africa, Washington DC, and at other Land O’Lakes sites around the US:

The team of interns I had the opportunity to work with often worked in this booth on our project. A lot of brainstorming and research took place here, so much so we renamed it the “Cafe of Knowledge”.


Living in Minneapolis was a lot of fun! It’s a very active city with running and biking trails everywhere, and we stayed just across the river from Downtown!


In Arusha, Tanzania we visited a village that was part of the Ngeresi Cultural Center. Here’s a dairy cow on a farm that welcomed our group for coffee and lunch.


Our last day in Arusha we traveled to the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro and visited a coffee farm! Our guide talked us through the process from the fruit being picked off the tree all the way to making us a fresh mug! Here he’s roasting the recently washed beans in a clay pot before they got hand ground in a giant wooden mortar.


While in Johannesburg we visited Soweto. During Apartheid in South Africa, Soweto was an overcrowded township where black residents were forced to live. All of the people we met were extremely kind and welcoming to us!


Our final day of the trip we spent in Cape Town. Here’s the beautiful view from the Port Authority tower. The flat mountain overlooking the city is called Table Mountain.


In Washington DC our group split into groups and went to Senate constituent breakfasts. This is us with our very own Iowa Senator Joni Ernst!


While in Indiana, our small group went to see a melon processing facility during the cantaloupe harvest. There’s a lot more than corn and soybeans in rural Indiana!

Honors Summer Snapshots: Allen

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Honors senior Aerospace Engineering student Allen Wang is realizing a dream by spending his second summer at NASA, this time at JPL in California:

So I’ve spent this summer working at NASA JPL in the metro Los Angeles area! Although it’s called the “Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” they haven’t done jet propulsion in decades now. This is the NASA center that has done almost all their deep space spacecraft, most famously the Mars rovers and the Voyager probes. I’ve always dreamed of at least visiting here, and I feel obscenely lucky to get to spend a summer working at JPL.

I was really pleasantly surprised to find that the building I work in is right next to the “Mars Yard”, where they do all the testing on Earth for the rovers on Mars. It’s always cool to walk by and see what’s going on today!


They have an exact copy of all the rovers on Mars. This is “MAGGIE”, the twin of Curiosity!


This is the Deep Space Network control room, where communication with all of NASA’s spacecraft beyond the Earth-Moon system is managed. This includes the Voyager spacecraft, which are now more than 10 billion miles away!


This is the high-bay cleanroom, where countless spacecraft have been assembled. They just wrapped up InSight, a lander that is heading to Mars in 2018, and they are now assembling hardware for the Mars 2020 rover.


Mars 2020 will have a whole suite of new experiments, including one that will try to produce Oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. Another key mission is to package up samples for follow up missions to bring back to Earth. This is something many people at JPL want the agency to work towards. However, there are several other missions that have been assigned to them in the meantime. They are also working on a mission to fly by Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter which we have discovered has a liquid water ocean underneath a surface of ice. They’re also working on a lander that will drill through the surface to reach the water underneath and search for signs of life. Also, a contract was recently awarded for an asteroid hunting mission called Psyche. There are also a million and one smaller scientific projects going on right now. It’s a busy place!


Fourth of July weekend, a group of 8 of us interns made a pretty stupid decision. We decided to climb Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states at 14,505 feet. Before the snow and ice melted off. We had to get crampons and ice axes; we felt like real mountaineers (except we didn’t really know what we were doing)!


Amazingly we all made it alive!


After summiting, we literally slid down the side of the mountain; it’s called ‘glissading’. Two people in the group got their hands hurt pretty bad going down. I had a close call when the lady above me lost control, started sliding down the mountain before crashing into me. Thankfully, I saw her coming and dug in with my ice axe. I didn’t die, yay.


And of course in California going to the beach is a necessity.


Honors Summer Snapshots: Becca

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Honors senior Biology student Becca Lair has had an “awkward in between summer,” which has turned out to be kind of perfect:

When trying to describe my summer for this blog, I have kind of been drawing a blank. For the first time in several years I decided not to take summer classes and work my full-time job back home over the summer, and instead stay in Ames and focus on trying to go to medical school and volunteering with my lab, among other adventures. Long story short, I’m glad I did it! I, like many honors students, tend to be the kind of person who tries to do a lot all at once so to have a summer where I got to do one thing at time was kind of a relief. Here’s some of my summer adventures, enjoy!

The beginning half of my summer was not terribly exciting. I worked in the Biology Program office in the mornings as an orientation assistant, then the rest of my day pretty much looked like this: sitting on my couch with some cheese and crackers studying for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), as well as filling out actual applications. If you want to know the secrets to class scheduling, I’ve got them!


However it wasn’t all boring and lonely! I made a new friend this summer, and his name is Alduin. One of my favorite adventures this summer has been babysitting (lizard-sitting?) this little guy for one of my friends. I’ve never really taken care of a reptile before, and I was super worried about it, but he’s really a very awesome lizard, and my roommates and I now consider him our fourth roommate, and will be very sad to see him go.


During the spring I started doing research with Dr. Stegemoller on music therapy for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Over the summer I volunteered to keep doing it, and I learned so much. Here I am testing out our wireless EEG cap for a data collection. The cap measures brain activity while our participants are completing motor tasks. In addition to doing the research we also do exercise outreach for people with Parkinson’s disease within the community. So, in addition to wearing high-tech headgear, I also put on my dancing shoes and learned to tango, as well as boxing gear and took a couple hits.


The final part of my summer has been taken up with lots and lots of color guard. In July and August I work for my old high school teaching color guard, and currently I serve as a guide for the Iowa State University “Varsity” Marching Band color guard. Every other weekend I help lead Iowa State color guard audition camps and then during the week I go home and write choreography for my high schoolers, and instruct them on guard and marching technique.


This last one is just for fun! One big life bucket list item I had the chance of doing this summer was seeing Paul McCartney in concert and here we are! Also, because I got to actually have a little fun this summer I crossed some things off my college bucket list. Finally, I visited almost all of the businesses on Main Street in Ames, went to Taco Tuesday, and even to the popular Des Moines Farmer’s Market. Ames is a really great town, especially during the summer, with no traffic or lines of students to go anywhere, and I definitely recommend every student spend a little time here over the summer and try some of the local shops.

My summer was odd, not very busy, and, after thinking about it, I’m glad that is how it went. I enjoyed getting to mix it up with work, volunteering, and adventure. Maybe an awkward in between summer was just what I needed to take senior year by storm.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Lauren

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Honors senior Lauren Suhi spent the summer regaling Ghanaians with her Dad Jokes and puns:

My name is Lauren Suhi and I’m a senior studying Environmental Science and Global Resource Systems with a minor in Sustainability. This summer, I ditched Iowa’s corn fields and flew to the cocoa fields of Ghana for an internship with Cargill.

Ghana is the second biggest producer of cocoa in the world! This picture is of dried cocoa beans. The beans must be processed before they becomes the delicious chocolate that we all love. This internship took my chocolate cravings to a whole new level.


I got to try my hand at harvesting some pods off a cocoa tree. I’m not Ghana lie, I’m surprised they let me handle a machete! One of Cargill’s sustainability programs is to help coach farmers on better practices and to develop their farms for maximum productivity.


All farmers are UTZ certified, and all farmers get inspected annually for good agricultural, social, and environmental practices. I got to observe and partake in the certification process and ask questions about the farms. The people in this picture are all cocoa farmers with Cargill on one of their cocoa farms.


A part of Cargill’s sustainability program is community development. Here is a picture of a women’s group that was formed in a community after discussing the needs of their community. Women’s groups are formed to empower women and help give them a voice in the community.


A part of Cargill’s community development is to also help build a school in each district they work in. This picture was taken shortly before I was tackled to the ground by kids super eager to get their photo taken.


The people of Ghana were extremely welcoming and nice to visitors, and I got a lot of things to try. For example, this coconut was given to me by a local farmer and was taken right off the palm tree. This fruit was so fresh, it drove me coco-nuts!


It was really cool throughout my time in Ghana to learn more about the livelihoods of the people in Ghana. While I spent most of my time with cocoa farmers, I got to visit a fishing village in Jamestown in Accra, the capital. It was a really cool to sea how people lived and compare it to other parts of the country.


My internship wasn’t all work, and I got to partake in some “monkey business.” One weekend, I visited a monkey sanctuary and got to hand feed some monkeys!

Overall, it was a great summer of learning, gaining work experience and discovering a new culture. But, I can’t wait to see what my adventure at Iowa State has for me in the fall when I return!