Springfield, MO

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Development director, Friends of the Zoo, 3043 N. Fort, Springfield. Friends of the Zoo is the nonprofit support organization for Dickerson Park Zoo. FOZ raises funds for improvements and new exhibits, sponsors special events, develops and runs the zoo's conservation education programs and advocates for the zoo, wildlife and wild places. The organization also operates the zoo's concession business, funds landscaping staff and improvements and supplements maintenance costs. Friends of the Zoo was formed in the early 1970s and really took off during the mid-'70s when the zoo faced being closed due to neglect and lack of support. Since that time, millions of dollars have been raised by FOZ, and the organization's influence has helped secure local, state and federal dollars for Dickerson Park Zoo. Shortly after moving to Springfield in the early 1980s Ferguson became involved with the zoo as education volunteer conducting programs in the community utilizing live animals from the zoo. Ferguson served on the FOZ board from 1985 until she was chosen for the newly created position of operations director in January 1991. The job title eventually was changed to development director to reflect the position's emphasis on fund raising. Ferguson is a member and current president of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives, Ozarks Region Chapter; a member of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums; Leadership Springfield Alumni Association; Rotary Club of Springfield; City Utilities Advisory Council; Junior League of Springfield; SMSU English Department Advisory Council; and the board of The Kitchen.

Age: 46.

No. of years in Springfield/area: Has lived in Springfield since November 1981.

Education: Graduated from SMSU in 1994 with a bachelor of arts in English/writing after returning to school in her late 30s.

Early career: Started working as a bus girl in a restaurant in her hometown of Golden, Colo. Then she worked as a waitress in the local drug store coffee shop and soda fountain and was promoted to the cosmetics counter after high school. She took college classes when she could and worked summers at Adolph Coors Company as a tour guide at the brewery. Ferguson was then hired full-time in sales and marketing at Coors and had been promoted to area sales manager and transferred to Columbia, Mo., when her relationship with Jim Ferguson, one of her distributors, began. She moved to Springfield in November 1981, married Jim in May, 1982, and worked with him at Coors of the Ozarks in sales and public relations for nine years before joining the staff of Friends of the Zoo.

Current projects: "We are in the final stages of fund raising for the Herald and

Marge Ambler Diversity of Life facility which will house the zoo's collection of reptiles, amphibians, aquatic displays, insects and a small primate exhibit," Ferguson said. The zoo is also planning for the annual Zoofari gala Sept. 11 and the 15th annual Halloween Spooktacular in late October.

Management philosophy: "I am basically a hands-off, coaching type of manager. I think of those who report to me, and everyone at the zoo, as friends and colleagues. I don't like the word 'subordinate,'" Ferguson said.

Spare-time pursuits: Loves to join her husband on trips to Scottsdale; enjoys playing with her labradors Gus and Molly, and is passionate about traveling to wild places to see wildlife and experience other cultures. She also enjoys gardening and reading.

Family data: Is married to Jim and has two stepchildren: Mindy, 24, who lives in Los Angeles; and John, 22, a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

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