It is hard to believe another year is ending and 2022 is right around the corner.
We have overcome many challenges this year: adapting to the changes of the pandemic, slowly welcoming more visitors and students back, navigating challenges together and planning for what’s next. No matter what is thrown our way, our collective passion continues to be the bright, guiding light into our future. I have had the opportunity to hear from many of you and even visited some of your organizations in person. Thank you Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, N.J.; Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.; and Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Conn., for hosting me. I truly enjoyed my visits and the information I gained was very valuable. It’s energizing to see first-hand and hear about the incredible work you all are doing on a daily basis.
I recently had the honor of being a keynote speaker for the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums virtual annual conference. I spoke with our international colleagues about the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Fifth Promise and shared examples of what many of our member organizations are doing to progress their own Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion efforts. I am humbled to see the many difficult conversations taking place and how this continues to be at the forefront for many of us—I look forward to seeing more of that in 2022.
The December issue of Connect is always a favorite as AZA gets to reveal the photo contest winner. Congratulations to Scottie Porter, communications coordinator at the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alberta for his winning shot a mountain goat walking the snow in the Canadian Wilds exhibit at the Zoo—it is outstanding.
As we welcome families to make holiday memories at our facilities, I encourage everyone to safely do so with their personal families as well. It is important to utilize your time off to relax and reenergize for the year ahead. Mental health is incredibly important and is absolutely essential in these times. I want you to take the time to care for yourself, your colleagues, family, and friends. Reflect on the past year and know you are doing incredible work and contributing to an overall mission of making this planet better for animals and for us.
I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season!