limaohio.com

Animal lover dreams of training killer whales

April 3, 2011

BATH TOWNSHIP — Katie Neumeier's cellphone cover proves she loves killer whales. And scanning through pictures on the phone reveals a picture of the Bath High School senior posing with SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau.The picture was snapped last year just a week before Brancheau was killed by a killer whale. Still, Neumeier hopes to one day find herself in the same waters training killer whales.Neumeier's first trip to SeaWorld was at age 2 when there was still a park in Ohio. She would go at least twice a year. “I loved the water and the shows,” she said. “And I would get really happy at the killer whale shows.”While others see a dangerous creature, Neumeier sees a “nice and adorable” killer whale.Neumeier will study marine biology and psychology at Bowling Green State University. She hopes to do two summer internships at Put-In-Bay, and spend the last two summers interning at SeaWorld.Neumeier is already getting experience working with animals. She volunteers at the Human Society of Allen County, Hollowell Dog Training Academy and with the Allen County Doug Warden. She started a project at the county dog pound, taking pictures of dogs and getting to know their personality so she can include the information with the picture.“I put it on the cages to hopefully help the dogs get adopted faster,” she said. Neumeier also volunteers with Relay for Life, including heading efforts at an event at the high school. Raising money for the cause is a priority for Neumeier. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998.Neumeier also does her share of volunteering in school. She helps with the middle school science fair and is president of Students Helping In Education. The group spends two mornings a week helping teachers in the elementary school. Neumeier often works with pupils needing math and reading help.“It is a good thing to help out different kids who really need it,” she said.Neumeier is captain of Bath's swim team and is on the Ada/Lost Creek Swim Team. She is also a lifeguard.Music is also important to Neumeier. She plays the piccolo in the school's marching and pep bands, and the flute in the symphony and pit bands, as well as the Lima Area Youth Orchestra.She started playing her “ancient” flute in middle school. It belongs to her mother, who played it in the Lima Senior High School band nearly 30 years ago.“My mom got me hooked on the flute,” she said. “I used to want to get my own, but now I feel really special to use her flute. It still sounds good.”You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.