Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur on display at the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport for the month on Saturday, June 11, 2022. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

Gazebo Gazette

Mississippi Aquarium proudly announces the addition of three team members to fill key positions. Traci Havelin joins the Aquarium as chief financial officer, Patrick Pearson joins as the vice president of sales and marketing and reporting to Pearson is Eric Gallichant serving as the Aquarium’s public relations and communications manager.

“These three new team members will play pivotal roles in shaping the future of our organization,” says Kurt Allen, Mississippi Aquarium president and CEO. “Patrick, along with Eric and the current members of the marketing and sales team, will focus on increasing attendance, while Traci will direct the strategy for all fiscal aspects of the Aquarium allowing us to operate responsibly and expand.”

A lifelong resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Havelin most recently served as chief financial officer for Singing River Mental Health Services which has locations throughout Jackson and George Counties. She also served as director of finance at Eley Guild Hardy Architects, the group responsible for the original design of Mississippi Aquarium, bringing her relationship with the Aquarium full circle. She holds a Bachelor of Professional Accountancy from Mississippi State University.

Pearson comes to Mississippi Aquarium with extensive leadership experience in marketing both non-profit and for-profit organizations across many different industries. Pearson began his career at Burson-Marsteller, now known as Burson Cohn & Wolfe, a leading global public relations and communications firm.

Throughout his career, Pearson has served in marketing leadership positions for major attractions including Hershey Resorts and Hersheypark, Wild Adventures Theme Park and most recently Miami Seaquarium, one of America’s first marine life zoo-aquariums. His transition from one of the oldest aquariums in the world to one of the newest will have a large impact on Mississippi Aquarium’s expansion plans.

Gallichant has a diverse background in marketing, sales and public relations which began in the non-profit sector. Most recently serving as marketing manager at Harrah’s Gulf Coast, Gallichant’s experience with non-profit organizations includes the City of Mobile, Mobile Museum of Art and Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama.

Additionally, the Mississippi Aquarium is offering free admission for teachers on Saturday, July 15 and Sunday, July 16.  Educators, faculty and all other school employees will receive free admission by simply providing proof of employment at ticketing, such as their school I.D. or check stub. On display, outside the park will be the Aquarium’s mobile marine unit serving as a teachers’ check-in for guided tours of Mississippi Aquarium classrooms.

Bottled water donated by Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc., will be provided to teachers who will interact with the Aquarium’s education team providing information about programs and field trip opportunities for the upcoming school year.

School supply drive benefits United Way of South Mississippi.  

This weekend, Mississippi Aquarium is also offering a buy one, get one free promotion for guests who donate at least ten dollars worth of school supplies. The school supplies will be donated to United Way of South Mississippi which will distribute them to children in need.

Shark Week activities complement back-to-school weekend.

In addition to back-to-school promotions, the Aquarium will also be celebrating Shark Week in cooperation with The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Fisheries Research and Development (CFRD). CFRD will have interactive stations set up throughout Aquatic Wonders to teach the public about cool shark facts and inform them of the research CFRD is currently conducting on these awesome species.

Jill Hendon, Director of CFRD, shared, “We are excited to be partnering with the aquarium again for our annual Shark Weekend festivities. It has been a great opportunity to come together to share with the public the important role that sharks play in our environment.  This is a highlight event for us and we look forward to interacting with all the shark fans out there!”

Teachers’ free admission cannot be combined with the BOGO promotion. For more information about these offers and events, please visit our promotions page at https://www.msaquarium.org/p/plan-your-visit/offers-and-promotions.

The Mississippi Aquarium is one of the newest aquariums in the country, having opened in August of 2020. The six-acre complex incorporates both indoor and outdoor habitats with more than 200 species of animals and 50 species of native plants.

Notable features at the state’s aquarium include a 360-degree tunnel through the Aquatic Wonders exhibit where sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and other aquatic animals surround visitors on all sides.