Morgan Markley

Equinox Staff


The movie “Happy Feet” came to life for three Keene State College seniors who traveled to Orlando, Fla. to intern in the safety department at the SeaWorld theme park this past summer.

Matt Shinske and Julia Brenker, both safety studies majors, and Shannon Lombard, an occupational safety and health major, worked within a group of five students in the Environmental Health Safety Program at SeaWorld.

According to Brenker, their daily schedule at SeaWorld consisted of working an opening shift which ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or a closing shift that started at 5 p.m. and ended at 10:30 p.m.

Brenker said, “The best part of this job was that every single day is different. You wouldn’t know what would happen that day.”

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Depending on the day the EHS investigated accidents that happened within the park.

To investigate an accident, EHS took photos and used investigative techniques to find the cause of the accident and then wrote a report and tried to prevent these accidents from occurring again.

Shinkse said he saw the internship on the KSC website and decided to apply. He said about his daily tasks, “It’s going through basic accident investigations–I did a chemical audit type sheet.”

Shinske said his favorite part of the internship was being able to go out to the park and just seeing all the animals and, “interacting with the guests, which obviously had its ups and downs” but that he loved being out there and going to the park whenever he wanted.

Lombard said she has always loved SeaWorld and aquatic animals and said she thought this internship was a perfect fit, giving her the opportunity to do what she loves.

Lombard said, “Even though I was doing a whole bunch of safety things within the park we still got to have fun and interact with animals that we never would have dreamed of interacting with–like my favorite, I got to interact with a penguin.”

All three KSC students lived in an apartment complex down the road from SeaWorld called Cumberland Park.

Lombard compared the apartment complex to a “residence hall,” and said, “It was a little bit of college and a little bit of real world.”

After completing the internship, even their professor noticed a difference in her students and thinks this internship has given the students a great experience.

Jaime Ingalls, clinical faculty instructor for technology, design and safety said, “It gives them that much more of an advantage in the workplace and in the professional world, especially because safety is such a global entity, it’s becoming international it’s not just a state or national thing.”

She also said this about the character of all three students, “All three of these folks are positive students that invest a great deal of time and energy into their studies. They definitely exemplify what a safety student should be, they invest the time in researching and studying and taking the time to engage in outside activities besides just the classroom.”

A lot of the experience gained at SeaWorld came from real-life accidents.

Brenker said, “My biggest investigation I had to do was when one of the dolphin trainers during a show of 2,000 people watching under-calculated a foot push [when the dolphins push him by his feet]; he went head first into the wall of the arena and had to go to the hospital, and so we had to do an investigation about his medical history and what happened during the show that made that happen.”

The experiences these students encountered will help them in the real-world. Shinske said this internship has helped him understand the safety world.

After graduation from KSC Shinkse said, “As of right now I’m kind of starting to apply for jobs.  I’m just thinking about it right now getting my resume out — looking at my options really.” He said it will depend what’s available for jobs when he graduates.

Lombard said that after this experience she will take away many lessons.

“Always be thankful for the opportunities that you get in life because not a lot of people can say they’ve had an internship at SeaWorld. I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity and I will never forget that,” she said.

Brenker is thinking about returning to SeaWorld after graduation.

She said, “My boss offered me to come back to work there which I would love to do. I might do the fifth year master program year here at Keene so I might stay for another year but haven’t decided yet.”


    Morgan Markley can be contacted at




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