Internship at Calaveras Big Trees State Park Helps Biology Major Find Her Passion

NWU junior Mia Keady spent her summer interning at Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
Mia led an interpretive program for kids, teaching them about trees and animals.

Mia Keady fell in love with biology after taking a botany class at Nebraska Wesleyan University.

She just wasn’t quite sure, however, what she wanted to do with her biology degree after graduation. Now that question has more answers following a summer internship at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California.

Keady, a junior from Lincoln, found the internship through the Student Conservation Association (SCA), which connects students with environmental agencies that are looking for interns. The SCA was highly recommended by several of her Nebraska Wesleyan professors, and once she found the Calaveras Big Trees State Park opportunity, Keady instantly went for it, drawn to the prospect of working with trees.

Her internship at Calaveras provided her the opportunity to teach visitors about the environment, guide nature hikes through the North Grove of Giant Sequoias, and lead classes.

“In the mornings I led an interpretive program for kids camping in the park or just visiting for the day,” she said. “The program topics ranged from trees to frogs to butterflies.  It was awesome to see that after one hour young kids were naming trees that they learned or telling their parents interesting facts about butterflies.”

The internship provided essential biological experiences for Keady like the opportunity to investigate the ecology of the park, and work on research projects such as a California Spotted Owl survey.

It wasn’t all work for Keady. She and the other park interns spent their free time backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, and traveling.

“I by far had my best summer out here exploring, learning, and meeting new, interesting people,” she said. “Working in a beautiful place was been the biggest highlight of all.”

The internship also gave Keady a better idea of her career aspirations.

“Overall the experience exposed me to how the state park system works and gave me a new perspective on different careers,” she said.