Internships Solidify Senior's Passion for Marine Biology

A winter study experience in Belize led to a summer internship for Kellsie Sedlak.
Sedlak led student groups to the Belize Barrier Reef to snorkel and study.
Despite studying in a land-locked state, Sedlak says NWU has provided her valuable marine biology experiences.
Following her internship in Belize, Sedlak traveled to Massachusetts for an internship at Cape Cod Sea Camp.

Kellsie Sedlak has always had a passion for marine biology even though she lives in a land-locked state.

Hoping to pursue her passion further, she signed up to help biology professor Jerry Bricker teach his Tropical Biology of Belize field trip course last winter. The senior biology major from Hastings had no idea the trip would result in an amazing internship offer from Tobacco Caye Marine Station.

“During the field course I was in charge of giving the fish identification lecture to our group and helping with the identification of different marine creatures,” said Sedlak. “After giving my lecture and seeing my great understanding of fish species seen in the Caribbean, Sean Clement and Jen Craighill (the station managers) spoke with me about coming for the summer to do an internship at the Marine Station.”

When Sedlak returned to Tobacco Caye Marine Station in June, she was put in charge of leading school groups to different parts of the reef so they could snorkel and study. She also led lectures on surveying techniques, marine identification, and scientific methods to students ranging from middle school to the college. She also helped school groups with their research projects about the reef.

Sedlak said the experience has greatly helped her understanding of education and communication, as well as honed her surveying and research techniques.

“The station goes by the ‘take only pictures, and leave only bubbles’ policy,” she said. “This means that they do not promote the feeding or touching of marine organisms found in and around the Belize Barrier Reef. This attitude taught me how to communicate and educate people about the importance of the coral reefs and how to also have fun and learn some interesting things along the way.”

When her internship in Belize concluded, Sedlak boarded a plane for Brewster, Massachusetts, for another marine biology opportunity at Cape Cod Sea Camp. There she was responsible for teaching nature classes to students. This experience gave her the opportunity to study marine life from the Northern Atlantic region, which differs considerably from the Caribbean.

“Getting to compare two different marine environments will give me even more knowledge about marine ecosystems around the world, even if I am living in Lincoln,” she said.

Although studying marine biology in Lincoln is not without its difficulties, Sedlak said studying in a land-locked state still provides ample opportunities.

“Nebraska Wesleyan has been a great supporter of my dreams of going into the marine biology field. There are so many opportunities to do so at Wesleyan and I am so happy that I chose to go to this university,” she said.