Alan Varsik

last updated 2/2/2018

Alan Varsik

Deputy Director at Metro Parks Tacoma

Location:
4702 S 19th St, Tacoma, Washington, United States
HQ Phone:
(253) 305-1000

General Information

Experience

Operations - Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Deputy Director - Northwest Trek

Interim Director - Zoological

Zoological Manager - Disney's Animal Kingdom

Assistant Zoo Director - Santa Barbara Zoo

Deputy Zoo Director and Chief Operating Officer - Oklahoma City Inc.

Collection Manager of Mammals - Lincoln Park Zoo

Senior Keeper - Brookfield Zoo

Biology Student - Cal Poly State University

Education

Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Bachelor of Science - Environmental Biology , California Polytechnic State University

Master of Arts - Conservation Park Management , DePaul University

Affiliations

Board Member - Island Fox Inc

Board of Regents Member - Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Board Member - FIF

Member of the Grant Program Committee - Zoo's Conservation Action Now

Vice President - Friends of the Island Fox

Recent News  

Alan Varsik named interim director of Zoological and Environmental Education for Metro Parks Tacoma > News > Metro Parks Tacoma

Alan Varsik named interim director of Zoological and Environmental Education for Metro Parks Tacoma
December 16, 2016 Alan Varsik, a lifelong zoologist with deep administrative experience at several zoos, is the newly named Interim Director of Zoological and Environmental Education for Metro Parks Tacoma, effective today. He was appointed to the post by Metro Parks Tacoma Executive Director Shon Sylvia. Varsik has been Deputy Director of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park since 2015. In his new position, he will oversee all operations at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek. Varsik succeeds Gary Geddes, who is retiring after nearly 36 years with Metro Parks Tacoma. Varsik joined Metro Parks Tacoma 22 months ago, coming from Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, where he served as Chief Operating Officer. During his tenure as Deputy Director at Northwest Trek, the wildlife park near Eatonville, celebrated its 40th anniversary; set an attendance record with 214,696 visitors in 2015; and opened the $1.9 million, nature-inspired Kids' Trek play area this year. The wildlife park is on track to shatter the attendance mark set just a year ago. By Dec. 31, around 252,000 visitors will have walked through Northwest Trek's gates this year. In addition, Varsik provided crucial leadership during a painstaking inspection process that led to a five-year accredition from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums this year. Northwest Trek is one of only 232 zoos and aquariums in North America that meet the professional peer group's rigorous standards for superior animal-care, fiscal management and operational excellence. Varsik holds a bachelor's degree in environmental and systematic biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a master's degree in conservation management from DePaul University in Chicago. He began his career working at a children's zoo in Oakland, Calif. From those beginnings, he moved on to working with primates at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago; served as curator at Lincoln Park Zoo; worked as zoological manager in the Tree of Life area at Disney's Animal Kingdom when that park opened; was general curator and assistant director at Santa Barbara Zoo; and served as chief operating officer at Oklahoma City Zoo before his arrival at Northwest Trek. His resume also includes stints as a university instructor and a breadth of conservation work, including with the California condor and Channel Island Fox. In the last two years, he completed the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Executive Leadership Development Program and became a Certified Park and Recreation Professional through the National Park and Recreation Association. "I'm very excited about this opportunity," Varsik said. Those strong foundations will leave Varsik and his leadership teams free to put great emphasis and focus on conservation initiatives and the storytelling that engages visitors and entices them to care about wildlife and wild places, he said. As a front-line animal keeper for almost 10 years, Varsik learned not only about caring for animals but about what resonates with visitors and makes them want to take action on behalf of wildlife. It's that background - a heart for animals and a desire to connect our community with the natural world - that he believes will serve him well in his new position. "This is an amazing opportununity with a very talented staff and a very supportive community," Varsik said.

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Are Zoos Still Zoos? | Rotary Club of Tacoma #8

Alan Varsik
Are Zoos Still Zoos? Alan Varsik came to Metro Parks Tacoma in February 2015 as Deputy Director at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park with 30 years of zoo, aquarium, and conservation experience. His experience includes keeper, curator, Director of Animal Programs and Conservation, and Chief Operating Officer roles at an array of organizations, including Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Santa Barbara Zoo, and Oklahoma City Zoo. He has been a university instructor and has a long history of conservation work, including with the California condor and Channel Island Fox. Alan holds a bachelor's degree in environmental and systematic biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a master's degree in conservation management from DePaul University in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums', AZA, Executive Leadership Development Program and a Certified Park and Recreation Professional through the National Park and Recreation Association. He also serves as an accreditation inspector, on the Diversity Committee, and is a professional development instructor for the AZA. While at Northwest Trek, he oversaw activities that included the celebration of Northwest Trek's 40th anniversary and construction of the $1.9 million nature-inspired Kids' Trek playground. Under his direction, Northwest Trek also set two attendance records and served more than a quarter-million visitors in 2016.

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Events | Rotary Club of Tacoma #8

Alan Varsik came to Metro Parks Tacoma in February 2015 as Deputy Director at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park with 30 years of zoo, aquarium, and conservation experience.
His experience includes keeper, curator, Director of Animal Programs and Conservation, and Chief Operating Officer roles at an array of organizations, including Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Santa Barbara Zoo, and Oklahoma City Zoo. He has been a university instructor and has a long history of conservation work, including with the California condor and Channel Island Fox. Alan holds a bachelor's degree in environmental and systematic biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a master's degree in conservation management from DePaul University in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums', AZA, Executive Leadership Development Program and a Certified Park and Recreation Professional through the National Park and Recreation Association. He also serves as an accreditation inspector, on the Diversity Committee, and is a professional development instructor for the AZA. While at Northwest Trek, he oversaw activities that included the celebration of Northwest Trek's 40th anniversary and construction of the $1.9 million nature-inspired Kids' Trek playground. Under his direction, Northwest Trek also set two attendance records and served more than a quarter-million visitors in 2016. Alan Varsik

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