The Recreation Division has hired coordinators to lead two of its highest-profile facilities: the San Angelo Nature Center and Love Municipal Pool.

Andrew Garcia’s first day as the Recreation Coordinator managing the Nature Center was Monday, Nov. 25. The Nature Center, which is located on the banks of Lake Nasworthy at 7409 Knickerbocker Road, is a hybrid of a natural history museum (with static exhibits that feature collections of skulls, fossils and minerals) and a small zoo. The Nature Center houses more than 100 live animals, including snakes, a bobcat, insects, an alligator, spiders, skunks, fish, a prairie dog, a porcupine, foxes and frogs. The Nature Center also hosts a wide range of events, including birthday parties for children and the upcoming Holidaze on Dec. 21 and a New Year’s Eve sleepover on Dec. 31.

Garcia earned a bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University in ecology and evolutionary biology with a multi-disciplinary minor that included geology, biometry, and range and wildlife management. He has previously worked for the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts (he is an Eagle Scout and an adult leader), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.

“This is my dream job,” Garcia said of managing the Nature Center. “I’m thrilled with the opportunity not only to care for the animals but to introduce them to children in ways that are both fun and educational. We’ll look to continue the Nature Center’s most popular programs and for opportunities to add to those.”

Tina Nikkilä is serving as the Recreation Coordinator responsible for Love Municipal Pool and the Recreation Division’s youth athletics program. Love Municipal Pool, 18 E. Avenue A, reopened in 2012 following a $3 million renovation that transformed the historic Works Progress Administration pool into a mini-water park. The youth athletics program includes basketball, flag football, track, and clinics for basketball, football and softball.

Nikkilä will graduate with a master’s of education degree in coaching, sport, recreation and fitness administration from ASU next month. A former captain of ASU’s women’s soccer team and a second-team All-Lone Star Conference athlete, she earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 2008. She was recently promoted from a game supervisor and office assistant in the Recreation Division. Nikkilä has also worked as an after-school site director for the YMCA and an intramurals coordinator for graduate students at ASU.

“I have always had a passion for sports and working with youth,” Nikkilä said. “I am grateful I have the opportunity to incorporate both into my career. Recreational sports provide an opportunity for children to learn life lessons and develop sportsmanship, all while having FUN. Working with the City Recreation Division is a wonderful opportunity and I am looking forward to working with the community.

“The City did a wonderful job renovating Love Municipal Pool,” she added. “I am pleased to have the opportunity to lead the pool this summer. I cannot wait until the hot Texas weather arrives so everyone can enjoy their summer swimming at Love Municipal Pool.”