Via Mermaid Echo:
Some people reach for their briefcase on their way to work, Claire VanValkenburg reaches for her 40-pound, fully customized, silicone mermaid tail. VanValkenburg is the owner and operator of Mermaid Echo Entertainment LLC, a small business that works to educate children about aquatic conservation.
“So many kids dream about growing up to be a pirate, a princess, or a mermaid,” VanValkenburg says, “For me it actually happened.”
This spring, VanValkenburg was crowned Miss Mermaid Wisconsin by the charity pageant, Miss Mermaid USA. The organization selects applicants to represent their state who are active leaders in activism, education, and creativity.
Since the launch of her business 5 years ago, VanValkenburg has used a combination of entertainment and education to engage children of all ages in important oceanic conservation efforts. She has organized Trash for Treasure Beach Cleanups, authored a children’s picture book about microplastic pollution, and wrote the curriculum for Mermaid Scholar School to help promote children’s confidence and safety in the water.
With the title of Miss Mermaid Wisconsin, VanValkenburg will continue working to educate children about conservation and has chosen to support the St. Croix River Association. Using her online presence, she has already raised $200 for the non-profit.
“It’s such an honor to represent my home state with this title. A mermaid is the perfect steward for aquatic conservation education, and my hope is with this title I can inspire even more kids, organizations, business, and communities to keep our waters clean,” said VanValkenburg.