Chelsea Churchill – Marine Mammal Trainer

 Chelsea Churchill’s lifelong dream was to work with dolphins.

She spent her childhood days immersing herself in all things to do with the mammal, from the different species to its various habitats. While she wasn’t big into books, Churchill was a voracious reader when it came to stories about marine life.

A champion swimmer growing up in North Little Rock, she pursued her passion by cultivating her talent on the Dolphin Swim Team.

For college, Churchill stayed close to home, choosing the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She joined the swim team, following in the footsteps of her mother, Jeannie.

Churchill chose to major in psychology and minor in marketing. Psychology gave Churchill the necessary knowledge to go into animal training – she learned about behavior and how to modify it.

When it came time to find an internship in the summer of 2008, she did her research and received recommendation letters from her professors. She was one of 20 students from around the world to land a coveted spot at a Hawaii marine animal park. She spent the summer between her junior and senior years working alongside dolphins and sea lions.

Upon graduation in 2009, Churchill knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life: Work as a trainer at a marine park.

She got another opportunity in Hawaii to do just that. She lived there for a year and a half before receiving a call to audition at SeaWorld in Orlando. Churchill leapt at the chance.

chelsea churchill

Since July 2011, Churchill has worked at SeaWorld as a marine mammal trainer. She works with dolphins and even birds, learning and modifying their behavior, thanks to the skills she learned when studying psychology. Without her degree from UALR, Churchill says she wouldn’t have been able to excel in her profession.

Her ability to train the dolphins comes in handy when she performs in one of the park’s most popular shows where she swims, dives, and even rides on the mammals.

“This is my dream job,” she said. “I love what I do and I get to interact with marine animals every day.”

From reading about dolphins as a child to actually training and swimming alongside them as an adult, Churchill says achieving her career goal would not have been possible without her education at UALR.



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