Editor’s Note — Nebraska Today’s Annie Albin spent five days at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Cedar Point Biological Station to highlight the studies and work of students, faculty and staff there. This is the third in a series of stories about Cedar Point.
Pots clank and music plays as Huskers get to work in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Cedar Point Biological Station dining hall.
Each day, a staff of undergraduate students provides meal service for the station’s various visitors. The dining hall can accommodate 90 as students, researchers, faculty and university affiliates pile in during the busiest moments of summer at Cedar Point.
It’s unlike many summer internships, as the students are in full control of the kitchen. All their plans go through Jennifer Somma, Cedar Point hospitality coordinator, but the day-to-day tasks and management fall on the undergraduate Huskers.
On a recent Friday afternoon at Cedar Point, A.J. Pugh, Hailey Showalter and Rhiannon Carlile were on kitchen duty. They finished preparing a main entrée, sides, desserts and a salad bar for their lunch-goers, and were putting the final touches on their cleaning details before prepping the next meal.
Nearing the end of the Cedar Point season, they have adapted to the bustling schedule. They also forged friendships, found learning opportunities in mistakes and gained confidence in their skills as they worked independently all summer long.
Somma, their supervisor, likes it that way.
Somma was once in their shoes as a summer intern at Cedar Point. The skills she gained here are the same ones she sees Pugh, Showalter and Carlile showcase day in and day out.
“When I look at Cedar Point, I see an opportunity for students to come out here and really be creative” Somma said. “The way I design our internships is very based on my interns’ interests, needs and wants.”
As a nutrition and exercise science major, Pugh used the summer to focus on the nutrition needs of the station’s visitors. And as a hospitality, restaurant and tourism management major, Showalter put her event-planning skills to use, creating activities and events to engage students, staff and faculty.
Somma trained and prepared the kitchen staff during their first few weeks on the job, but by the midpoint of summer, the team was equipped to handle the daily tasks on their own.
“It’s kind of nice, because you can do all the things and you can be in charge of things …,” Showalter said. “It’s a great place to fail.”
In addition to running the kitchen, nutrition needs and event-planning portions of Cedar Point, interns also handled prep work for incoming classes, managed the lodging and cabins, and ensured COVID-19 safety protocols were followed on the campus.
When off the clock, they hiked, explored Ogallala and swam in Lake McConaughy.
“I’m basically living at summer camp all summer,” Showalter said. “We were talking about how we feel that this place — with all its ups and downs — is wonderful for students.”