Draper, UT

Utah Aquarium Founder Tells His Story

S. F. Mori

He had a dream since childhood

Loveland Living Planet Aquarium(Image is author's)

One of the popular entertainment attractions of the Salt Lake City area in Draper, Utah, is the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. It provides an impressive sight from the freeway and an enjoyable experience inside.

The aquarium was founded by Brent Andersen. He has shared his story.

When Andersen was living in Sandy, Utah and turned five years old, his grandmother gave him a book. It was called The Sea. He says that the book was the determining factor for the rest of his life.

He imagined himself being underwater with the images in the book. The colorful fish, sea stars, and octopus were magical and inviting to him. The sharks and giant squid were somewhat frightening. He was fascinated with the underwater world as he spent hours looking at the pictures of the sea life in the book.

When he asked his father what the job of a scuba diver in a picture was, his father said it was a marine biologist. The little boy decided then that he wanted to become a marine biologist.

He watched episodes of "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau." When people asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, Andersen would say he wanted to be a marine biologist.

His parents divorced when he was a young child, and life changed for him. When he was a senior in high school, he had not thought about college. No one in his family had been to college. His childhood dream seemed out of reach. He wasn't sure he was capable of college.

He found an entry-level job at a biotech company. It was challenging and interesting work. He was around people who had gone to college, and he decided to take a night course of Biology 101 at Salt Lake Community College. He surprised himself by doing well and earning an A for the class.

That gave him encouragement and confidence so he planned a career path. Near the end of his time at Salt Lake Community College, he mentioned to a friend that he wanted to find a job near a university where he could study marine biology. His friend helped him develop a resume which was sent to several companies on the West Coast.

He was hired by Johnson and Johnson in Santa Barbara, California. He packed up his car and drove there. It was New Year's Eve, and his living arrangements fell through. All the motels he tried were booked up so he slept in his car for the weekend. He went to work on Monday.

He spent a year working to establish California residency. Then he was able to take some courses at Santa Barbara Community College. He found a new job after two years at a company which had a program to allow him to go to college part-time.

He applied for grants and student loans so he was able to matriculate to the University of California Santa Barbara. He completed his degree after seven years. He loved living near the ocean and enjoying the undersea world.

Andersen tried to get a job in marine biology but could not find anything that felt right.

A question he heard on a Tony Robbins tape was, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Tony Robbins then said, "The answer that rings true in your heart is probably what you should be doing."

Andersen then spent time working with an aquarium and designing aquatic exhibits. He worked on building public aquariums and studied aquariums by visiting many. He wanted to inspire millions of people to learn about the planet and experience the ecosystems.

When Andersen's friend suggested in 1996 having Salt Lake City as a possible location for building an aquarium, he did not consider it at first. After meetings with developers and the new project of Thanksgiving Point, they pursued the idea of an aquarium. There were many obstacles and trials along the way, but there were people who believed in the project. Investors were found who funded various aspects of the project. Andersen also invested money, time, and expertise.

Aquarium in Draper, Utah(Image is author's)

The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium was opened in March 2014. There are nearly one million visitors per year to the aquarium. The education programs reach elementary schools throughout the state. It was a dream come true.

Note: Brent Andersen's full story was published in The Utah Business Magazine, May 15, 2021.

[Reference: www.thelivingplanet.com]

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I am a retired President/CEO of civil rights organizations. I have been a Mayor and California State Assemblyman as well as a College Instructor of Economics. I have also been an entrepreneur and international business consultant. I will be sharing articles mostly about life, politics, racism, travel, health, and relationships.

Salt Lake City, UT

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