Public relations major serves internship at Indianapolis Zoo

July 10 2006

INDIANAPOLIS - Heather Woodall is spending her summer working with dolphins, elephants, and meerkats, but she isn't a veterinarian or zoologist.

A senior public relations major at Indiana State University, the Greencastle resident is serving a full-time summer internship at the Indianapolis Zoo.

In her role, working with the zoo's marketing department, Woodall helps plan and coordinate zoo events, speaks with the media and helps develop advertising campaigns.

"Right now we are in the beginning stages of planning our Halloween Zoo Boo, Christmas at the Zoo, and Zoo Year's Eve," Woodall said. "I am helping extensively in planning that. When I first got here we had our Zoopolis 500 which is in conjunction with the Indianapolis 500."

In June, Woodall worked the Elephant Show, the key event in the zoo's Elephant Awareness Week.

The promotional event served to educate the public about elephant conservation, and gave guests a chance to see elephants play basketball, do tricks and even paint.

Megan Magsaman, special events and advertising manager at the Indianapolis Zoo, said Woodall was also responsible for booking and organizing the special guests who come and participate as guest bathers in Elephant Awareness Week. Guest bathers ranged from the former zoo president to Rupert from the "Survivor" television show and Indianapolis disc jockeys and television personalities.

Magsaman said Woodall is excelling in her internship, and she is impressed with what Indiana State has provided Woodall, both in and out of the classroom.

"Heather has been doing a great job for us. We were very impressed with her resume from the beginning and we wanted her to come in because we had a good feel from where she's been, what experiences she has had and where that can take her to in helping us out," Magsaman said. "Her studies have been an asset, too, just because of her range of experience in different things, and she is able to help up carry out and do certain things and keep all of us going in the department."

Woodall agreed that the wide variety of curriculum offered at ISU provides her with skills she can use in her internship.

"The public relations program is really good about giving you real world experience and the different classes they offer you do everything in the classroom that you would do in the real world," Woodall said.

Before coming to Indiana State, Woodall worked for five years in various fields. She said coming back to school was something she knew she needed to do and she chose ISU for the public relations program and small class sizes.

"It is considered to be one of the best in the state and one of the best in the country and it is a little bit smaller than some of the other schools that have the program," Woodall said. "The campus is great and the faculty in the public relations program has been great, and they are always willing to help you. Every place on campus I love and the school itself is wonderful."

Woodall said the internship program through the ISU communications department has helped prepare her for her chosen career and helped her gain important contacts. She recommends all students participate in an internship.

"It's great real-life experience and it shows you how everything is going to happen once you get out into the real world," she said.

"Get the most out of it," she added. "Do as much as you can and volunteer whenever you can."

Magsaman said that the Indianapolis Zoo offers many internships for all sorts of majors and encourages those who are interested to visit the zoo's Web site at www.indianpoliszoo.com for more information.

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Writer: Rachel Wyly, media relations intern, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3773

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Story Highlights

Heather Woodsmall, a senior public relations major at Indiana State, is spending her summer working with animals - and people - as an intern at the Indianapolis Zoo.

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