WIU alumnus, zoo director in Ohio, involved in search for exotic animals

With headlines like “Exotic animals escape from Ohio farm” and “Schools closed as exotic animals prowl,” the situation that unfolded on Oct. 18 and 19 sounded like something straight from a movie rather than from actual news sources.

But the very real situation is that dozens of exotic animals, including lions, tigers and cheetahs, escaped from a Zanesville, Ohio preserve following the death of its owner. According to CNN.com, a number of animals thought to be dangerous were still on the loose as of 8:35 a.m. (EST) today (Oct. 19).

Tom Stalf, a WIU graduate, is among the officials trying to get the situation under control. Stalf, who until recently served as director of the Niabi Zoo in the Quad Cities, is now the senior vice president of the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo. The 1992 WIU alum was interviewed on TODAY this morning about the danger that these animals present on the loose.

Screen shot of Tom Stalf on Today show

Stalf earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor geology from WIU. He left the QC area for Ohio only recently, according to KWQC.com, to take the position in Ohio. Watch him being interviewed on the TODAY show here. (Stalf’s interview begins at approximately the 2:35 mark).

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For this graduate, plastics really did matter.

In that oft-quoted moment in film history, Dustin Hoffman’s character in “The Graduate”โ€”facing his uncertain futureโ€”gets sage advice about what to do with his life. And that advice became a punchline for a generation.

YouTube clip

But for Ron Sherga, a 1976 WIU biology and geology graduate, plastics have been anything but a joke. Recycling plastics, in fact, has led him to an environmentally conscious career.Ron Sherga '76

Sherga is the owner of Sher-Results LLC, (Arlington, TX), which assists companies and organizations with recycling and sustainability issues, and has been a leader in plastics recycling for 30 years.

During his time at WIU, Sherga was a Member of Theta Chi, and the campus groups including Interhall Council and University Union Board. He will return to his alma mater on April 7 to deliver the keynote speech at Western’s Seventh Annual Environmental Summit.

And perhaps he can be said to have erased his own carboon footprint: the facilities he has managed or owned have been responsible for reusing two billion pounds of scrap plastics.

Will you be at this year’s summit?

Looking for what you might be able to do with a biology major?

Or are you a 70s-era alum who remembers Ron?

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