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Birds of a Feather

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By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Dero Sanford

“The more I learned, the more I wanted to be involved.” 

   René Julian believes in building better communities. As community president of First Community Bank in Little Rock, he’s invested in the company culture and realizes improving amenities in Central Arkansas is a critical component in the bank’s future. Providing financial expertise that places people as the top priority is paramount in every one of the 30 First Community Bank neighborhoods throughout Arkansas and Southern Missouri.

 width=    “I am inspired by my job at First Community Bank. Our philosophy is that a strong community helps make a strong bank, so we do what we can to enhance our communities. This is why I love being involved with the Little Rock Zoo.” René serves on the Arkansas Zoological Foundation Board of Directors and looks forward to Wild Wines later this month. 

   Presented by the Arkansas Zoological Foundation, Wild Wines features more than 200 wonderful wines from O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor and light bites from the tastiest eateries in Central Arkansas. This festive fare will be complemented by the wildest entertainment in town. Patrons are encouraged to mix and mingle with Little Rock Zoo Animal Ambassadors and docents who serve as hosts throughout the zoo. It’s a unique opportunity to experience the animals after hours and provides a journey where each one shares in the important story of wildlife conservation. Mayhem, a northern ground hornbill, who recently joined the ambassador program will dazzle + delight guests. Proceeds support continued and necessary improvements at the zoo. “These funds help build new exhibits and essential educational programs,” René adds. “There’s always something the zoo needs. That’s what makes Wild Wines so important.”  

 width=   René was introduced to the Little Rock Zoo through his friend Betsy Singleton. “She got me to make my first donation to the penguin exhibit. The more I learned, the more I wanted to be involved. I was recommended for the Zoo Foundation Board of Directors in 2017 and have been fundraising for wild lives ever since then.”

   For nearly a century, the Little Rock Zoo has provided a place for people to connect with wildlife. “We offer experiences that encourage an appreciation for all living things and a deeper understanding of conservation,” explains Little Rock Zoo Director Susan Altrui. “Business leaders, like René, who recognized the economic impact the zoo has in Central Arkansas and the potential for growth are incredibly valuable.” The Little Rock Zoo is owned by the city of Little Rock and René hopes funding will continue for redevelopment that makes the Little Rock Zoo competitive with zoos in similar-sized cities. His pragmatic approach to civic leadership is impressive. “I am a banker so I know what a good investment is,” René jokes. “The Little Rock Zoo is a good investment! It’s a major economic engine for Central Arkansas and a leader in conservation learning. We must invest in our state’s only accredited zoo – it’s up to the community to support our zoo and realize we are investing in our future.”  

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