Nature Lover

A love of nature and animals came easy to Lauren Norvell — growing up in rural Gibson County, she found an early passion for the outdoors and animals.

“You tend to find the environmental activists are those people who formed a bond and a love for those things early on,” says the Purdue University graduate (she holds master’s degrees in wildlife science and conservation biology from the college). “I always have been conservation-minded because I fell in love with those things as a child.”

Recently named the conservation education curator at Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden, Norvell’s goal is to update, improve, and expand the education programs and experiences offered by the zoo.

“I’m driven by that goal,” she says. “It’s a big project, but it’s fun because I’m starting with a huge amount of potential in front of me.”

What’s your favorite animal and spot in the zoo?
The animals that make me the happiest are the giraffes. There’s a boundary there, but it’s invisible. You feel like you’re right there with the giraffes. I also really love the lemurs because they are quirky and cute. My favorite spots are where I feel more connected with the animals, versus through a chain-link fence or glass.

How special is it for you to be in this position?
Mesker is a central icon to our community, so I feel I can have the most impact here. It’s a foundation I can build on to increase public awareness about our wildlife’s needs and our environmental concerns.

What motivates you each day?
I want to make the zoo a favorite place so we can engage and connect more people to their natural world. In the end, that’s the goal for everyone here and why we’re all excited to work at the zoo. We all love the animals here, but we also love the thought of inspiring people to make a positive difference locally and globally in animal and environmental welfare.

Wild Things
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