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Annual Conference Session Highlights

By AZA Staff
min read

AZA 2021 Virtual Annual Conference

The 2021 Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Annual Conference will be a virtual meeting held 20-24 September that you can attend from the comfort of home. 

And while the staff at AZA will again miss seeing you, they are working with members to deliver a Conference with all the great content and networking opportunities that are the hallmarks of AZA meetings. 

With so much great content, we thought you might like to hear what AZA staff are looking forward to at the Conference. Here’s what they had to say:

Conservation is a Team Sport

There is so much in this year’s Annual Conference that I’m looking forward to seeing, from Beyond 2020 and the future of virtual engagement, to Conservation is a Team Sport and several other offerings focused on increasing incorporation of people and social science in our conservation programs, to multiple tracks addressing both the challenges and opportunities of increasing diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.  This year’s Conference is a clear indicator that we are emerging stronger from the pandemic and more prepared to face our challenges head on.

Craig Hoover
Executive Vice President

Ambassador Animals and AZA Animal Programs: Partnerships for Sustainable Populations

Whenever possible we must begin to shift the paradigm that exhibit animals and ambassador animals are separate, isolated populations. Instead we can work to develop strategies incorporating ambassador animals into breeding programs as species' biology allow. This could be a way to increase population gene diversity, demographics, and effective population sizes by incorporating these previously underutilized animals, as well as may uncover ways to improve overall welfare and training techniques.

Dr. Megan E. Brown
Director of Population Management Strategy

Reimagining Partnerships from Influencers to Promotions

I am looking forward to seeing the session Reimagining Partnerships from Influencers to Promotions in the Public Relations and Marketing Track. There is no shortage of articles about how influencer spending by organizations is going to increase in 2022. So, hearing from some top-notch folks about working with influencers and creating meaningful partnerships inclusive of communications efforts are important topics for our profession.

Rob Vernon
Senior Vice President, Communications and Strategy

Engaging the Public, Informing Policymakers, Advancing Conservation and Achieving 30x30

As we confront the rapid loss of natural places and wildlife, we must redouble our efforts to address this crisis. We know that our collective advocacy influences policy decisions at all levels of government. I look forward to this panel sharing with us the tools to advance this critical issue.

Jennifer Keaton
Vice President of Congressional Affairs

How Does Conservation Education Impact Institutional Priorities?

While most agree education is core to the mission of AZA zoos and aquariums, many still struggle to integrate and prioritize education across the organization. The session, How Does Conservation Education Impact Institutional Priorities? will tackle this issue with critical conversations between CEOs and their education leaders. I am excited to hear how the leadership of these varied organizations work together to embody and deliver on their education mission beyond programs and visitor engagement.

Amy Rutherford (she/her)
Director, Professional Development and Education

The Buzz (and Poster Buzz) Sessions

Mark your calendar now to take advantage of the daily Buzz events, including the new Poster Buzz! The live, five-minute presentation compilations are energizing and cover a wide-variety of information in a short amount of time. Enjoy hearing from your colleagues who have so much to share about the work they are doing. End each day from 5-6:30 p.m. with a lightning round of information sharing and thoughtful discussion, with a bit of fun sprinkled in.

Melissa Howerton
Senior Vice President of Member Services

Securing Funding and Partnerships

Ever since I came to AZA in 2000, I have tried to build sustainable collaborations with government agencies and other entities. This has not always been an easy road but there are certainly some highlights to celebrate recently. I would invite you all to join us as we discuss AZA efforts to secure funding and partnerships in the areas of coral rescue, care of threatened and endangered species, care of species confiscated at the port and borders, wildlife forensics, and air transport opportunities. The timing could not be better!

Steve Olson
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

Register Now

So sit back, relax, and Register Now to access hundreds of sessions and presentations, guest speakers, social events, and the virtual exhibit hall—all from home and whenever your schedule allows. For all the Conference details, visit the Virtual AZA Annual Conference page.

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