Tom Nicholson, majority owner of Roaring Springs Waterpark and Wahooz Family Fun Zone, received the 2019 Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award in Recreation and Tourism at the Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism in Sun Valley this week.

"Tom is a businessman with a big heart, and we are all better off for his contributions in Idaho," Gov. Brad Little said. "I join many in congratulating him on receiving this distinctive recognition."

Nicholson grew up raising sheep in Idaho. After graduating from the University of Idaho, College of Agriculture, he started a family ranching operation in Ada, Canyon and Owyhee Counties, growing crops and raising cattle. More successful businesses followed, including Mountain View Agricultural Equipment Company and a Honda/Toyota dealership in Seattle. Nicholson was also one of the founding members of Micron Technology and served on its board of directors for several years. 

Nicholson launched what he considers his most fun business venture 20 years ago when he purchased Roaring Springs Waterpark in Meridian, ID, discovering a love for the amusement and tourism industry. In 2009, he acquired Wahooz Family Fun Zone, and later built the 24-lane Pinz Bowling Center and the Indoor Adventure Park at Wahooz. In November 2018 the Galaxy Event Center at Wahooz opened to host conferences and events. The Roaring Springs-Wahooz complex is a 58-acre, multi-million-dollar entertainment destination--and home to the northwest’s largest waterpark-- attracting visitors from around the country.

Both Roaring Springs and Wahooz celebrated their 20th anniversary this year, with the motto “It just keeps getting better!” Nicholson has exciting plans for future expansions of Roaring Springs and Wahooz and believes it’s the parks’ over 700 young adult employees who make a visitor’s experience memorable. 

In addition to running several businesses, Nicholson has found time for charitable work. He and his wife have volunteered with St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, chairing the Festival of Trees for two consecutive years and being acknowledged as Distinguished Citizens. He has served on many boards, including the Peregrine Fund. His many honors include the University of Idaho Alumni Service Award and the Association of Funding Professionals Outstanding Philanthropist Award. In 2018 he was honored with the Meridian Mayor’s Legacy Award. 

Nicholson and his wife, Diane, have been married over 50 years and have three children and seven grandchildren.