News Release

Alumna Maggie Gibbons Cares For and About Animals at Minnesota Zoo

By Elizabeth Tollefson on
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Written by alumna Ellie Brettschneider 2017, communications assistant, fall semester 2017 in University Relations and teammate of Maggie Gibbons.

University of Minnesota Crookston alumna Maggie Gibbons 2017 is someone extraordinary. She loves talking about Harry Potter, playing soccer, and is passionate about animals. Gibbons graduated fall semester of 2017 earning her degree in natural resources with an emphasis in maggie gibbonswildlife management and a minor in biology. She grew up in Grand Rapids, Minn., and came to Crookston with a several things in mind: nature, academics, soccer, and the feeling of home.

Gibbons was a unique student-athlete only has played a collegiate sport for two out of her four years on campus—her freshman year and her senior year. She was active in clubs such as The Wildlife Society, Natural Resources Club, National Society of Leadership and Success, Hospitality Association, and the Study Abroad Club.

Gibbons worked at the Minnesota Zoo in summer 2017. She says it changed her perspective and opened her eyes to so many aspects of conservation, sustainability, and animal seniors

“I have worked with and trained animals some people have never even heard of and it was fulfilling and special,” she says. Just like the Minnesota Zoo, Gibbons spent a great deal of time outside for many of her classes as a student and participated in many hand-on-experiences in her labs and classes, like a trip duck banding.

Gibbons feels fortunate to have been recruited to play Golden Eagle Soccer by Head Coach Joe Alianiello.  She came in as a freshman, a very solid defensive player, and was able to earn a starting spot for most games her first year and help the team fall one point short of a playoff spot. She chose to leave the team after her first season in order to focus on school. Knowing Gibbons, her desire to play remained strong, and deep down she always wanted to play again. After finishing her third year, she decided to come back to play soccer her senior year. She earned her defensive spot back and finished her senior year playing the game she loves with her team.

maggie gibbonsIn order to build her resume, Gibbons traveled abroad to Thailand to study tigers and elephants her junior year. Following graduation in December, she landed a job as a professional trainer at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, Minn., working at the World of Birds Show. She spends her days doing what she loves working with owls, hawks, parrots, and everything in between teaching them new behaviors and flying them for guests. 

 Passionate about volunteering and a hard-working individual, Gibbons thrives on staying busy. She is passionate about everything she is involved in and will not stop making a difference, no matter how small or large an opportunity may be.

The University of Minnesota Crookston now delivers 35 bachelor's degree programs, 23 minors, and 40 areas of emphasis on campus as well as 16 degree programs entirely online.  These degrees are offered in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit

In the photos:

Left: Maggie Gibbons releases a duck on a duck banding trip in fall 201

Right: Senior soccer players, left to right, are Nikki Dogan, Maggie Gibbons, Nicole Corbin, Ellie Brettschneider, Madison Korus, and Gabby Kekke led the team in fall 2017.


Elizabeth Tollefson

University Relations


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