People want to make their special events memorable for their friends and family these days. What better way to do that than being surrounded by tigers, giraffes and elephants? But while the zookeepers are taking care of the animals, who takes care of the events?
This is where Nicole Morrison ‘14, event coordinator for Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, ensures guests enjoy one of the many events at the zoo and helps cater events such as weddings, formals and holiday parties.
“There is no such thing as an average day at the zoo and I mean that in the most complimentary way,” said Morrison. Whenever she is not executing events, Morrison is in the office communicating with clients for catering events or preparing for consumer events throughout the year like the “Sunset Celebration”, “Creatures of the Night”, “Christmas in the Wild” and “Dinos Alive!”, where families get to experience life-like dinosaurs up close.
With five different venues to host events, Morrison’s work days can feel quite… wild. “If multiple events are happening, we are on the go,” she said. “But we can be just as busy with just one event. It depends on the size and the logistics involved with each.”
Logistics and working with different departments are the biggest parts of her job, Morrison said.
Morrison was already experienced in event planning prior to joining the Lowry Park Zoo staff. After leaving Auburn she worked in Orlando for The Walt Disney Company as a professional intern for the event services department. Following her internship, she became an Event Services Assistant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
With a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and a minor in Business, she says her Auburn coursework certainly prepared her for this career path. Morrison was involved in Omega Phi Alpha, a national service sorority, and Eta Sigma Delta, a hospitality honor society.
“I’m interested in event planning because it combines many of the things I enjoy most, like organizing complex events, working with other people in a dynamic team and creating extraordinary memories for the customer.”
After two years in Orlando, Morrison was missing her home and family in Tampa when she saw the open Event Coordinator position at the Lowry Park Zoo. The Auburn alumna now works in the city and industry she loves.
Morrison can be found in several parts of the zoo throughout the day depending on what kind of event she is coordinating.
“On a day of a consumer event, I can be running around setting signs, preparing entertainment break areas, or making sure the event equipment is properly working,” she said. “For catering events, I set the audio visual equipment, make sure the room is set per the client’s request and confirm with other departments their day of tasks.”
Morrison has helped coordinate weddings, proposals, corporate meetings, sorority and fraternity formals, homecomings, proms and holiday parties. “It is our mission to connect our guests with the living earth and there are many opportunities to do so,” she said. “I have always loved animals and being able to incorporate that into my job is amazing.”