Catching up with Sonoma Valley High grad Madalyn Boldt, ‘11
Becoming a dolphin trainer in Hawaii doesn’t just happen to everyone. No, Madalyn Boldt has been “porpoisely” working toward this since she was a kid.
It only took a trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo for a young Boldt to plan the rest of her life. Seven-year-old Boldt watched the dolphin show once – and didn’t want to leave it all day.
Dolphins soon became a big part of Boldt’s life. She remembers having lots of dolphin stuffed animals and even dolphin bed sheets. For her 10th birthday present, her parents got her an up-close-and-personal class with the dolphins at Six Flags. While most kids were there to pet the dolphins, Boldt couldn’t stop asking the trainers questions.
That day, Boldt became one of the rare people who know as a kid what they’re going to do for the rest of their life.
“My mom thought it was one of those kid dreams like, ‘I want to be a firefighter when I grow up,’ but no, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer,” Boldt said.
After attending St. Francis Solano School, Boldt went to Sonoma Valley High School. While there, she took school very seriously.
“I focused a lot on getting into college so I took a lot of AP classes,” Boldt said.
She also dived into school activities and was on the SVHS dance team because, “you can’t have too many extracurricular activities.”
On top of everything she worked at Sonoma Academy of Dance and Art, teaching kids how to dance.
“That’s where my instructing and teaching children began,” she said.
After graduating in 2011, Boldt swam her way down to University of California, Santa Cruz where she furthered her education while also fueling her passion for dolphins by working as an assistant trainer in the Long Marine Laboratory with the Marine Mammal Physiology Project. On top of all of this, she worked her way through college as a manager at Pacific Ways Surf Shop.
After she graduated in 2015, Boldt became a marine mammal training intern with Dolphin Quest in Bermuda. This internship eventually led to her new job when she was transferred to Dolphin Quest Oahu in March 2016 as operations assistant.
Today, Boldt is paid to spend time with dolphins, training them, studying them and helping the public interact with them.
She still loves dolphins just as much today and even though she likes teaching people about dolphins, her favorite part is being with the dolphins.
“My passion is with the animals,” Boldt said.
With a lot of reporting these days about sometimes abusive situations in marine-mammal capitivity, Boldt often gets flack for what she does, but she encourages everyone to do their own research and not believe everything on social media these days. Even the documentary “Blackfish” she says is “misleading and not factual.”
Boldt uses a target pole to train the 300- to 500-pound dolphins. “To make them do something is impossible, it’s all voluntary,” she said.
What many people also don’t know about these facilities is how much research they do for the animals. The dolphins are there not only to be trained, but to be studied so that researchers can learn more about and help all dolphins.
“We’re not out there for ourselves, we’re there for the animals. I didn’t just want to train dolphins, I wanted to help all the dolphins,” Boldt said. “I (with) the animals knew how much they’ve helped us learn and helped all other dolphins.”
Boldt is finally living the job she dreamed of as a child, but sometimes she forgets how far she has come. “Sometimes I’ll be talking to someone about what I do and it’ll hit me and I get this big smile across my face – I did it,” she said.
Boldt’s parents and brother still live in Sonoma, as well as some of her friends. While she admits after high school it’s hard to stay in touch, she likes seeing what her classmates are up to these days on social media.
When asked what her advice to current SVHS students is, she said, “Find something you really want to do and stick with it. No one’s going to do it for you. Stick with it and work hard.”