March 6, 2020
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Specialist
The Akron Zoo has been a feature of Summit County since 1953. Being a local zoo, most people know us for our exciting animals and our educational value yo our community. However, we also want to make it known that we have fabulous staff who value wildlife and work hard every day to make Summit County and the world a better place!
This National Employee Appreciation Day we wanted to highlight several Akron Zoo employees in departments that are often overlooked. Of course we need animal keepers and vet staff to care for our animals and provide them with the best home possible, but we also require staff who maintain our park, educate guests and make your experiences memorable for years to come! Read on to learn more about some of the Akron Zoo’s star staff.
Our Education Team offers many opportunities for students and guests to learn about conservation and wildlife, including Early Childhood programs, Snooze at the Zoo, Zoorific Career Days, Junior Interpreter program, ZooCamp, educational programs during school field trips and the ZooMobile. In 2019 alone, the Akron Zoo was able to bring 889 education programs to more than 80 school districts, serving more than 91,000 individuals.
One of our valued Education Team members is Rick Smith, exhibits coordinator. He does a lot of work behind the scenes, such as installing signage and many of the theming pieces in new areas. He also takes on special projects to retrofit items for the zoo and updates and upgrades special event decor. Rick’s talent and creativity help give the zoo and our events a more immersive feel, so that guests are always engaged in an experience of education and fun!
The role of the Admission Team is to welcome every guest that visits the zoo. They help guests to purchase general admission tickets, memberships, field trips, facility rentals, birthday parties and even special event tickets on a daily basis. They also have knowledge of every event happening at the zoo and are always ready to talk to our guests about all that the Akron Zoo has to offer.
Crystal Wood, our Admission Team lead, is an essential resource for all of our admission staff. She is always available to answer questions and is willing to work alongside the team to ensure our guests are happy!
The Akron Zoo’s Human Resources (HR) Department is responsible for everything related to an employee’s work experience, from recruiting and onboarding, to health insurance plans, voluntary benefits and perks, wellness activities, retirement plans, employee relations, worker’s compensation and more!
Tara Beachy has been a part of our HR Team since April 2019. Despite her relatively short time at the Akron Zoo, she has played a key role in our five-year AZA accreditation submission. She entered, edited and linked 239 accreditation questions with thousands of pages of backup data in both hard copy and electronic forms. It was an arduous task requiring enormous patience, organization and an astounding attention to detail.
The Custodial Department is responsible for the cleanliness of public and staff areas. They work to keep the park clean by collecting trash, cleaning restrooms, picking up protein spills, setting up for events and more. They also maintain the Big Hanna composter on grounds, assisting in the zoo’s sustainable practices.
Greg Hegal is the custodial lead, and he does his job well. He is always willing to help anyone who needs it and goes out of his way to make sure staff are trained. He has excellent communication with staff and supervisors, and any time there is an issue in the park he addresses it right away. His knowledge of custodial practices is unsurpassed and without him the team would not function as well as it does.
The Food and Beverage Team helps the zoo to generate revenue by providing meals for guests and staff, as well as catering for events and private rentals. They work hard to ensure that everything that comes out of our kitchen is sustainable, from the burgers to the compostable utensils.
It takes a village to successfully run kitchen operations and it would be impossible to provide these services if it weren’t for our part-time, year-round staff. They work tirelessly each day to ensure all five food areas throughout the park are operating smoothly. The team leads and part-time staff also help to provide training and guidance to an influx of around 30-40 new seasonal hires every April. Each one of our part-time employees deserves to be recognized and thanked for their dedication to the success of our team and the zoo!
The Development Department at the Akron Zoo inspires individuals and organizations to support our mission through philanthropic giving. By securing funds, the Development Team allows us to continue to create experiences that connect your life to wildlife, grow our education programming and develop community partnerships.
Allyson Boyd, our annual giving manager, is a valued member of the Development Team. She is great with customers, both internal and external, and because of her welcoming demeanor many people come to her for questions or support. Allyson truly appreciates those that support the Akron Zoo and is always willing to accept additional responsibilities when asked.
The Marketing Team at the Akron Zoo handles many of the zoo’s external communications, including social media, website updates, Potter’s Blog, media relations, event planning and execution, ads and even membership services. They are responsible for stirring community engagement by notifying our community of upcoming events and opportunities at the zoo.
Ally Tatlow, our membership manager, is a key member of the Marketing Team. Not only is she an expert at making our members’ zoo experiences great, she also goes above and beyond her traditional membership role.
The Guest Experiences Team includes birthday parties, carousel, train and goat feed sales. Our birthday staff help to provide a memorable birthday for children holding their parties at the zoo by supplying entertainment and an educational animal experience. The carousel, train and Boma staff interact with guests looking to enhance their zoo going experience with unique activities.
Richie Anderson, the guest experiences team lead, provides a very important service to our team. He assists them with whatever they need and will even help with assisting the Admissions Team. He will often go above and beyond for our guests and is great with making sure our guests get what they are looking for.
Thank you so much to all of our wonderful employees! If you would also like to show your appreciation, stop by the Akron Zoo this week and submit a comment card about who you think deserves recognition this year. Your feedback helps us better serve our community and make your experience as rewarding as possible. We hope to see you soon!