Megan Brownell photojournalist
The state of Kansas is known for many things, being near an ocean, isn’t one of them. Senior in biology Annika Anzjon is following her passion for marine biology, even when landlocked.
“I’ve been passionate about marine life for as long as I can remember,” Anzjon said. “ I was infatuated with dolphins as a little girl and I wanted nothing more than to work with them when I grew up, but as I got older I found myself considering alternate career paths because I wasn’t sure how to pursue a career in marine biology in the Midwest.”
PSU has helped give Anzjon and other students opportunities to get experience in the field such as a spring break trip to South Padre Island, TX. They arrived there on March 12 and were joined by Emporia State University students. They spent their time volunteering at Sea Turtle Inc.
“We helped by updating the paint in their parking lots and then repainted their nestling corral and replaced the fence netting that helps keep other flora and fauna from entering the corral. The next day we removed debris from the sand in the corral and took a tour,” Anzjon said. “The rest of the trip we spent touring the area such as going bird watching, dolphin boat tour, relaxing on the beach, before returning to campus on March 17.”
Anzjon also shared different opportunities she has been given during her time at PSU. She said that she had gotten to intern for different organizations such as volunteering for bird banding projects like installing a MOTUS on a telephone tower to investigate bird movements.
She also mentioned about an internship she worked at PSU in the summer of 2021 working for a graduate student searching for bird nests, collecting nest survival data and the surrounding vegetation data. Her biggest opportunity though, interning at the conservation department at Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Juno Beach, Florida.
“I took the spring 2022 semester off to intern there, and I participated in developing and implementing comprehensive conservation related solutions to threats posed on sea turtles,” Anzjon said.
After that semester, she also interned at the animal rescue clinic Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut in the summer of 2022.
“During that internship I assisted in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick and injured seals and sea turtles,” Anzjon said. “I also participated in several necroscopies both in house and in the field as well as dolphin response.”
Anzjon also will be interning this summer at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle rescue and rehabilitation center in Surf City, North Carolina, where she will also participate in the rehabilitation and release of sick and injured sea turtles.
Though she could of attended a coastal school to get more hands-on experience in the field, Anzjon attended PSU to be close to her family. She says from her experiences that it does not matter if you grew up on the coast or get a degree specifically in marine biology.
“Many employers do not restrict qualifications to these strict guidelines, but instead they look for individuals with a passion for the marine environment and those who have experiences in a related field,” Anzjon said.
She is thankful for the experiences from PSU with being able to network with professionals and making lasting connections, as well as preparing for a career in marine biology.
“I’ve learned my strengths and weaknesses as well as my prefered area. I feel confident in the skills I’ve learned to jump into a career after graduating,” Anzjon said.