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Lt. Bobby Maslar, a C-26 pilot for the U.S. Navy, helps 8-year-old Isabella Cunningham don a "dry" flight suit, a uniform aircrew wear when flying over cold water, during the annual career day at Naples Elementary School.
Lt. Bobby Maslar, a C-26 pilot for the U.S. Navy, helps 8-year-old Isabella Cunningham don a "dry" flight suit, a uniform aircrew wear when flying over cold water, during the annual career day at Naples Elementary School. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
Lt. Bobby Maslar, a C-26 pilot for the U.S. Navy, helps 8-year-old Isabella Cunningham don a "dry" flight suit, a uniform aircrew wear when flying over cold water, during the annual career day at Naples Elementary School.
Lt. Bobby Maslar, a C-26 pilot for the U.S. Navy, helps 8-year-old Isabella Cunningham don a "dry" flight suit, a uniform aircrew wear when flying over cold water, during the annual career day at Naples Elementary School. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
Petty Officer 3rd Class Shaun Knittel, a Navy photographer, talks to seventh-graders during the annual career day Thursday at Naples Elementary School.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Shaun Knittel, a Navy photographer, talks to seventh-graders during the annual career day Thursday at Naples Elementary School. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — Nicco Ruffino pretty much has figured out what he wants to be when he grows up — about a decade from now, give or take a year or two.

The 12-year-old is planning on life as a zookeeper.

“I watched about it on National Geographic and I love animals, and I think it would be a lot of fun to take care of animals,” Nicco said Thursday as he made his rounds of booths manned by professionals touting their jobs as aspiration-worthy at the first day of the two-day annual Career Day at Naples Elementary School.

And while Nicco might have made up his mind on his career long before going to school Thursday morning, the sixth-grader personified the tenants of what career day — even at an elementary school — are all about: At a young age, you’re never too young to start thinking of the future.

“Most of these kids are being exposed to opportunities that normally, they might not have,” said Navy Lt. Bobby Maslar, 34, a C-26 twin-engine aircraft pilot stationed in Naples.

“I didn’t know [military careers] were available to me until I was much older,” said the pilot, who also served as a Marine.

Through the Partnership in Education Program, which links schools with their local business communities, pupils are exposed to a smattering of career options, both in and out of the military.

They got to whet their appetites on presentations from culinary workers, to learning what it takes to become doctors, aviators, lawyers, firefighters, cosmetologists, sonar technicians, reporters, photographers and musicians, to name a few.

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