CAFNR Senior Spotlight – Q&A with Zane Nichols

Nichols is a senior graduating in May with a degree in parks, recreation, sport and tourism.

A student poses with Truman the Tiger.

Q: Why did you choose to come to the University of Missouri?

A: I grew up about 20 minutes away in a small town, so I was lucky enough to have been surrounded by the culture of the University of Missouri my entire life. I grew up watching Tiger football and going to basketball games with family and friends. I also saw how big of an impact Mizzou has on the Columbia community during traditions, like homecoming. I saw the University of Missouri as a place I could grow and experience things that I did not think were possible and knew it was the perfect place for me to study and network.

Three students pose for a photo.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a degree in parks, recreation, sport and tourism?

A: Sports and recreation impacted my youth in a number of ways. From playing sports to attending games with family, sports were a huge part of my life. These events gave me something to cherish and enjoy while I was younger as well as build relationships on and something to connect over. The majority of the friends I have I met through playing some form of competition. I wanted to be able to give other people that same experience with my career. Whether it was putting a smile on kids’ faces through events, giving families a chance to connect over a common interest, or just creating fun, competitive events for people to enjoy, I want to use this degree to impact people.

Q: Were you involved in any extracurricular activities?

A: While at Mizzou I have been involved with the Homecoming Steering Committee, the Alumni Association Student Board, the CAFNR Ambassador program, the Greek Week Steering Committee, and my chapter within Fraternity and Sorority Life. Through these experiences, I was able to plan and execute campus and community wide events during the 2023 Mizzou Homecoming that brought people together and created a fun atmosphere. I also got to facilitate many campus traditions such as Tiger Walk, Senior Sendoff, and Mizzou 18/39, as well as collaborate with alumni to better our campus. Through CAFNR Ambassadors, I was able to help recruit new students and help ease the tensions of finding a college for high schoolers. While being a part of Fraternity and Sorority Life, I was able to emcee our annual fling competition and raise thousands of dollars in donations for charities, while also hosting some of the largest blood drives in the nation!

Four students pose for a photo.

Q: Did you partake in any research, study abroad, or internship opportunities? What did you enjoy about those experiences?

A: I have taken part in internship opportunities while at Mizzou. First, I was an assistant for an on-campus program with University of Missouri Extension where I helped design content and run social media accounts. This internship really helped me dive deeper into the world of communications and design and I always enjoyed coming up with new ideas. I then transitioned to an internship with Veterans United Home Loans in human resources where I could talk to numerous people while tabling events and designing promotional content. I also took on a summer internship in Memphis, Tennessee, where I was a sales representative for the Memphis Redbirds, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals. There I learned the importance of sales and connection while getting hands-on experience in my future industry.

Q: What is a favorite memory you have during your time in CAFNR?

A: My favorite memories of being in CAFNR were always CAFNR Week. More specifically, I always loved getting to participate in the annual mud volleyball tournament. These tournaments are some of my favorite memories because it was so cool to see how it brought together so many different people within CAFNR for a fun, and messy, night. There was always so much energy, laughter, and fun during CAFNR Week that I loved.

A student gives instructions to a group.

Q: How did your degree program prepare you for the future?

A: My degree program helped to show me all the possibilities available through parks, recreation, sport and tourism. I got a very comprehensive understanding of this industry through the classes, experiences, and professors that I feel comfortable talking about how it differs from other industries while applying these concepts. Whether it is through research, business operations, marketing, or event management, I feel prepared to enter the workforce and bring something tangible and creative to the table because of my degree program.

Q: What are your future plans?

A: Currently, my plans are to stay in Columbia this summer to complete my capstone internship for my degree program with the Show-Me State Games, the largest Olympic-style state games in the nation. Here I’ll get to plan and run recreational sport tournaments for youth, adults and seniors around Missouri that will give me great experience for later in my career.