Home About Us Leadership Board of Directors

Janet Gardner, Founder/Executive Director/Treasurer: Janet has long dreamed of bringing a world-class zoological center to Western Colorado. Now as Executive Director/Treasurer of Grand Valley Zoological Quest, she is making her dream a reality. Gardner graduated from both Midland College and The University of Texas Permian Basin with honors. Her senior year she was selected by the faculty as the outstanding Graduate in Psychology and was President of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for psychology students. Gardner held the prestigious position of Graduate Assistant to the psychology professors while taking classes towards a Master’s in Behavioral Science. Gardner holds a BA in psychology, a minor in biology, master’s work in behavioral science, and numerous certifications in psittacine and avian program management including certificates from: AZA Advance Avian Program Management, American Federation of Aviculture, Steve Martin’s Natural Encounters, Dr. Susan Friedman’s LLP just to name a few .  She spent nine months in Jakarta, Indonesia, studying the Komodo dragons, in 1990, and was on site during the exchange of two Komodo dragons for two white tigers between the Ragunan Zoo and the Cincinnati, Ohio Zoo. Janet spent a great deal of time with the Curator of Reptiles, Johnny Arnett from the Cincinnati Ohio Zoo, working with the Komodo dragons and helping to sex water monitors. During this time Janet also worked with Sumatran rhinos, as well as in the primate nursery with orangutans and a chimpanzee. Gardner is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the American Federation of Aviculture, the World Parrot Trust, Fruita’s Chamber of Commerce, and Fruita's Chamber of Commerce Business Builders. Since 2000, she has been teaching, free of charge, extracurricular classes in life science to local schools often including live animals in her presentations. Gardner is the only FrogWatch Coordinator for the western slope. She has volunteered at Grand Junction High School within the following organizations: Science Club, German Club, Booster Club, and was one of Grand Junction High School's Volunteer of the Year 2011-2012. Gardner was the Kid’s Aide/Backpack Program volunteer at West Middle School for three years.



Dianna Fox, MBA, President:  Dianna holds Bachelor’s Degrees in both Nursing and Business along with a MBA from Mesa State College recently elevated to Colorado Mesa University. She is a native of Grand Junction. Fox has been a psittacine re-homer for over ten years. She is a civic volunteer with the local soup kitchen for the past three years cooking and serving food every Tuesday night along with her husband Rocky. Fox also volunteers for Community Cat Cares, now in her fourth year, and an active member of the Western Colorado Beekeepers Association.


Benjamin M. Wegener, Attorney and Partner with Younge & Hockensmith: Ben earned a Juris Doctorate Degree with Distinction at the University Of Nebraska College Of Law. Originating from Nebraska and raised on a farm, Wegener is very familiar with animals and certified zoos spending time at both the Lincoln Children’s Zoo and the Henry Doorly Zoo. His memberships include: Colorado Defense Lawyer’s Association, American Bar Association, Colorado Bar Association, and Mesa County Bar Association. Wegener is a prior Member of the Board of Directors of the Grand Junction area Salvation Army. Currently, he is a member of The Board of Directors for Fruita, Colorado’s City Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Valley Young Professionals. Ben along with his wife Brooke have been devoted volunteers within our community for many years and soon will be taking on a new important role as parents.


Brenda (Bea) Sullivan, I would like to introduce myself. I am a sixth grade math teacher at Fruita Middle School.  My name is Brenda (Bea) Sullivan. I am in my 24th year of teaching.  I am originally from Peoria, Illinois.  My husband and I moved our family to Colorado fifteen years ago.  I began my college career at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Champaign.  I studied animal science in my first year and then graduated from Bradley University with my Bachelor of Science degree.  I majored in education grades kindergarten through ninth grade. I minored in science and am highly qualified in mathematics.  I have experience as a manager of a local dry cleaner.  As well as work with the gifted and talented summer programs at Bradley University.


My passion has always been with the care of animals.  I was fortunate to have had the opportunity for four years to work at Glen Oak Zoo in Peoria, Illinois under the direction of Chuck Wikenhauser.  During the summer and weekends, I was responsible for the care of our outdoor animals as well as our feeder animals.  I also worked at McGinnis England Veterinary Clinic in Peoria learning the behind the scene care of ill and injured animals.


It has been a gift to me to be involved in the care of the animals with the Children's Nature Center.  As a teacher, I know animals spark the imagination of everyone who has the opportunity to see them.  It is through this interaction that we marvel at the beauty of our world around us.


David Fricke- retired Mesa County Valley School District 51 Principal:  David was born and raised in the Cincinnati area which provided great opportunities to enjoy one of the most outstanding zoos in the country. Fricke visited often with his family and still remembers the field trips as a student in school researching selected animals along with classmates and sharing their findings with the entire class. Fricke attended the University of Cincinnati prior to joining the Navy. He spent two tours in Viet Nam and one in Europe aboard an aircraft carrier. His naval experience allowed him to circumnavigate the world two times resulting in time spent on every continent. One thing Fricke observed visiting many impoverished countries was that when the quality of life lessens so does the surrounding environment and wildlife. This is why we see rain forest and some animal species disappearing. When Fricke left the military, he completed his education and was recruited from the University of Arizona to teach in Grand Junction. Fricke taught in elementary schools in the Grand Valley for 16 years before furthering his education and serving as principal for the next 17 years. He worked in the most impoverished areas within our community. One of the most striking things He noted was that the children, for the most part, showed similarities to the people he observed in other poverty ridden countries in that they had little exposure to wildlife and consequently in many cases not a lot of respect for animals. Today, retired, Fricke lives on twelve acres raising horses and enjoying life.


Lori Buck, City of Fruita Mayor & City of Fruita Liaison to GVZQ’s Board:  I am a fourth generation Lower Valley Resident (maiden name Clawson), a graduate of Fruita Monument High School and Colorado State University. I lived on the eastern slope for 11 years getting my education and working in my chosen profession of Forestry. I have been married for 18 years and have two daughters 14 and 7. Our family moved back to Fruita in 2001 because growing up in a small town was a great experience and my husband and I wanted that same opportunity for our children. My interest in local government began while working for the City of Fruita Planning Department, where I learned growth management, policy, and planning. I resigned my position the end of 2004 to raise our children and work part-time for our family business.


I currently serve on the Fruita City Council, the last 4 years as Mayor Pro-tem, the Senior Task Force, the Tourism Board, and the Arts & Culture Board. I participated in the Community Plan update, the Land Use Code update, and two Tabor Review Committees. I was a participant in the development of the Parks and Open Space Plan and the Economic Development Plan.


I am deeply rooted in this community. I will ensure that the city continues to remain fiscally responsible, that the small town character of Fruita is preserved while supporting the local economy and that growth is managed in a manner to protect citizen’s interest.

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