There are at least SIX things you may not know about Tammy Klipfel, the Catering Manager at Reid Park Zoo. Did you know she’s . . .
The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace, and Tammy served her country as an avionics mechanic on A-10s. She enlisted soon after graduating from high school in North Carolina. She shared that many people probably don’t know she served in Desert Storm, the first Gulf War and a successful U.S.-Allied response to Iraq’s attempt to overwhelm neighboring Kuwait. She was kept busy repairing and performing scheduled maintenance on aircraft avionics.
Through this commitment, Tammy was able to see the world in five years as she served in Korea, Guam, Philippines, England, and even Denver. When she was stationed in Korea, she was the catcher on the base’s softball team, and the team traveled to other bases in the Pacific. Tammy said she probably should have stayed in, as she loved the experience. But she chose an honorable discharge and returned to Tucson to start the next chapter in her life.
A College Graduate
After leaving the military, Tammy enrolled at the University of Phoenix to earn a business management degree. She also received a master’s degree with an IT emphasis from the same university. Tammy said one of the smartest things she did was to go back and get her degree as she values the importance of a college education. While attending college, she worked at a variety of jobs, including as a bartender, to support herself and her son. After graduation, she worked in IT at a hoist crane company as well as an insurance company.
Tammy has two children, a 20-year-old son, Soren, and a five-year-old daughter, Isabella.
When she’s not at work, she spends her time with her family. Tammy laughingly said that everyone should attend a soccer game where five-year-olds are playing. “It’s truly a joyful experience,” she added.
Tammy said she couldn’t live without eating cheese or beef at least on a daily basis. She said, “God forbid, if anything happened to me and I had to become a vegetarian, I couldn’t do it as I very rarely eat salads!” She also sprinkles hot sauce on most things she does eat. As a youngster she spent a lot of time with her grandfather who had a heavy hand with the spicy sauce. In fact, her boss at the Reid Park Zoo special orders a 12-pack of hot sauce for Tammy’s use when she eats at the zoo.
Tammy started working for SSA at the Reid Park Zoo as an hourly part-time bartender in 2008. She was pregnant with her daughter at the time and going cold turkey from drugs. She claims taking this job at the zoo changed her life. “Thank you SSA!” she added. With her bubbly, yet determined personality, Tammy soon became a full-time employee. “I was at the right place at the right time,” she said. Tammy said that Don Morgan, the unit’s GM, is her work husband. “Don and I are a great team,” she said, “It could be an ugly SSA divorce if either one of us leaves.” She has worked in every single position at this unit, which is limited to culinary. Tammy said she likes to work on weekends and have days off during the week. “On Sunday if I’m not at the zoo, I’m at church, and then I’m back there,” she added.
Tammy described her job as ideal. “It’s got structure, yet there’s no structure,” she said, “There’s so much people interaction, and I enjoy people.”
A Lover of Extracurricular Activities
While Tammy has enjoyed running for several years, lately she has become a color canvas for area runs. In these events, she runs through color stations where volunteers “bomb” runners head to toe in pink, yellow, green and others colors. Her running has become a team operation as the Reid Park Zoo GM Don Morgan is training to run a 5k.
Tammy has an eclectic taste in music, ranging from rock and roll to old school rap to R&B. Her favorite entertainer is Prince, who has been ranked Number 27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone. “I love him,” Tammy said, “I paid an embarrassing amount of money to go see him in concert.” After five times of seeing this rock star live, she finally splurged and bought seats in the fourth row at the concert held five years ago. And yes, she reached out and touched him. Another favorite musician is Barry Manilow, as his birthday is the same day as hers (June 17).
On her bucket list is a visit to the unique serene and beautiful Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean. “I just hate being cold, I’m in love with beaches,” she added. “My job in Tucson is just perfect” she said, “But I’m insanely jealous of the SSA employees in Hawaii.”
Tammy likes to read People magazine. She said, “I don’t have a lot of time to read, and when I do it’s purely entertainment. I’m a celebrity gossip addict.”