My daughter has been intrigued by animals her entire life. Before she was a year old she loved visiting local zoos and aquariums to see the animals. She visited SeaWorld as an infant and was in awe of the marine animals. Just over five hours from SeaWorld San Diego, we found ourselves visiting often. Her love for marine animals turned into an educational interest when she started talking and asking hundreds of questions about animals. Whether we are whale watching in Southern California, admiring dolphins in the ocean, or learning about sea lions at SeaWorld, my daughter is absolutely drawn to the animals and those teaching her about them. The only television she requests to watch is programs about animals and she spends a significant amount of time playing outside observing birds and lizards. She has a connection to nature and constantly talks about her plans to help conserve the oceans and take care of marine animals when she grows up. While volunteering in her kindergarten class I observed her tell a child to pick up their snack wrapper so it didn’t end up in the ocean. I truly couldn’t have been more proud to see her standing up for what she believes to be the right thing. I was equally heartbroken the day my husband picked her up from school and she broke into tears in the car on the way home telling him some girls in her class called her weird for liking animals and science so much. She was devastated when some of her best friends told her science was only for boys. During a recent visit to SeaWorld San Diego, my daughter shared her experience and was relieved at the reassurance that plenty of girls grow up to be scientists. She observed the many women working at SeaWorld and bravely said it didn’t matter what those girls had said. But it did matter. Her spirit had been broken and the team at SeaWorld, some of my daughter’s most significant role models, saw that. Weeks later SeaWorld invited my daughter to visit the park and spend the day with Miss California, Marina Inserra. She has worked at SeaWorld for the past five years and is an amazing role model for girls like my daughter. Being a huge fan of Marina already, the visit had a great impact on my daughter. She left SeaWorld that day prouder than ever to say she loves science and wants to work with animals.
My husband and I have always celebrated our daughter’s extraordinary love for animals but to see her so enthusiastically share this passion with the beautiful Miss California was amazing. Marina Inserra started working at SeaWorld San Diego at just 16 years old. Her very first job there was dressing up like a flamingo for the Halloween event. Years later Marina still works at SeaWorld and has a great passion for educating others about animals. She is an award-winning horseback rider and spends most days working as part of SeaWorld’s Education Department team teaching visitors about marine animals. During the Miss America pageant, my daughter watched from our living room and was astounded by Marina’s beauty. Before ever meeting Marina in person, my daughter looked up to her knowing she loves working with animals. I didn’t tell my daughter we were meeting Marina in the park because I knew it would be an amazing surprise. The moment my daughter saw Marina was magical.
Marina was so kind and shared genuine enthusiasm spending the day with my daughter. They visited many different animals exchanging facts along the way.
They held hands and ran through the park together like they were lifelong friends.
As the SeaWorld guest kid blogger, my daughter has met amazing and inspiring role models. She absolutely lights up when we visit friends in the park and they thank her for wanting to help take care of animals. She was so excited when she realized Marina also looks up to these great role models.
Marina also took the time to thank my husband and I for raising our daughter to pursue her interests and grow up to be a strong role model for other girls.
I asked my daughter what she learned from Marina and I was touched by her response. She said, “Girls can be anything they want to be.” Yes sweet girl, they sure can. Her day with Miss California was about so much more than spending time with a pretty girl; it was truly about learning girls can grow up to be anything they want to be.
Marina Inserra, Miss California, is a beautiful, intelligent, and inspiring role model. She is exactly the type of woman I want my daughter to look up to: strong, confident, and determined.
Thank you so much to the SeaWorld San Diego team and Marina Inserra for arranging this visit. My daughter left California prouder than ever to say she loves science and wants to work with animals when she grows up. As her mommy, my appreciation goes far beyond words.
Read why I choose to support SeaWorld if you are interested in our frequent visits to the parks.