Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Museum of Idaho director to take over Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park

David Pennock
Longtime Museum of Idaho executive director David Pennock is turning his attention to another community institution, the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park. Effective April 4, Pennock will take the reins there as executive director.

A native of Idaho Falls, Pennock returned in 1999 to develop the Museum of Idaho and became executive director in 2003. Since its opening, the museum has averaged more 104,000 visitors annually, including more than 18,000 school children on organized tours from 17 Idaho counties each year. The museum has a $1.3 million annual budget.

Pennock has a Ph.D. in systematics and ecology from the University of Kansas, as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees in zoology from Brigham Young University. "With the museum, you'd think I was a history person, but my degrees are in biological sciences," he said. He is a published researcher and has taught various graduate and undergraduate courses at the University of Kansas, University of Arkansas and Fort Hays State University. He and his wife, Gisele, have six children.

During Pennock’s tenure with the Museum of Idaho, $20 million has been raised through grant writing, donor development, memberships and corporate sponsorships, with over $950,000 raised for facility improvements.

"We owe David a deep debt for creating and growing the Museum of Idaho," said Linda Guinn Montgomery, who chairs the museum’s board of directors. "Without David's vision, hard work and enthusiasm, the museum would not be able to serve the 100,000 people a year we see. We are very sad to lose his leadership; however, we are delighted with his new opportunity with the Idaho Falls Zoo. We wish him the very best in his new role."

The museum board is organizing a search for a new executive director.

Pennock began working as a consultant for the Idaho Falls Zoo in 2015 to develop a 5-year strategic plan for zoo operations. He said he sees a lot of opportunity to grow the zoo programmatically and to enhance the economic benefit it brings to the community.

"This is something that is well-established, well-loved and well-supported," he said. "It's extraordinary for a community our size to have something like this. There's already a great foundation, and I want to see whether we can't take it another step."

“Dr. Pennock’s experience with the Museum of Idaho, various local non-profit boards and community outreach, coupled with his education, make him uniquely qualified to lead this important community resource, said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper.