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AZA Virtual Annual Conference

By AZA Staff
min read

Staff Picks 2020 

For the first time ever, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Annual Conference will be a virtual meeting held 14-18 September that you can attend from the comfort of home. 

And while the staff at AZA will 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. 

Given the new nature of the Conference, Connect online reached out to AZA staff for their thoughts on sessions and the new online format. Here’s what they had to say.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade in Development/Fundraising and Membership

Using Marketing-Driven, Subscriber-Based Guest Engagement Platform to Drive Revenue

In the time of Covid-19, revenue generation becomes even more crucial than ever before. Innovative and out-of-the-box marketing campaigns to encourage engagement are paramount. I am excited to listen and learn from our ever-creative members as we navigate these challenges together and look to turn lemons into lemonade.

Gina Velosky, Director of Integrated Marketing

Extraordinary Partnerships in Aquarium Affairs

Coral Propagation and Rearing: The Next Frontier

There are so many great sessions in the Aquarium Affairs track this year, but with my involvement in the Florida Reef Tract Rescue Project, I have a little bias. This session will spell out not only the great work of AZA members in the Florida Keys coral rescue project but also highlight the extraordinary partnership that has evolved with our federal and state partners in this critical initiative.

Steve Olson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

Tackling Critical Topics in Education

The education sessions are tackling critical topics relevant across the profession including social science research, empathy, resiliency, conservation action, and virtual programming. It's hard to choose, but you won't have to! The virtual format this year means attendees can take advantage of content in every track, attending one session live and later viewing recordings of other sessions in that time slot. 

Amy Rutherford, Director, Professional Development and Education 

General Session Panel on Wildlife Trafficking Guides Action

With crisis comes opportunity. Given the clear link between wildlife trade and the spread of zoonotic disease, and global attention on the pandemic, we have an historic opportunity to affect lasting change on the longstanding threat of illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade, while also helping to stop the last pandemic.  Chelsea Clinton, Cristián Samper, John Scanlon, and other thought leaders will help increase momentum and guide action for the zoo and aquarium community.

Craig Hoover, Executive Vice President 

Find Great Ideas in Business Operations

Now more than ever, our membership and development staffs are stretched thin and eager to find that one great idea that can lead to success. Where better to find those ideas than from your peers? As we look for innovative ideas and new ways of doing things, the Membership Marketing Best Practices session promises to bring fresh approaches to our tried and true principles. See you there and bring your best ideas to share.

Melissa Howerton, Senior Vice President of Member Services

Getting Creative in Animal Management, Health, and Welfare

Making Lemonade: Getting Creative with Behavior Management During Facility Closures

While this has been an extremely unusual and stressful time for the human side of zoos and aquariums, the animals in our care have felt the uncertainty too. Any change to the normal routine can impact an animal’s behavior and welfare. This group of presentations will showcase how a variety of different animals have responded to facilities being empty and strategies that have helped animals, as well as staff, cope in this changing landscape.

Dr. Megan E. Brown, Director of Population Management Strategy  

Making Sense of an Uncertain Future in the Trends and More Tract

AZA Government Affairs Initiatives in a Post-COVID-19 World

Government affairs only becomes more important in a time of crisis. As we navigate this challenging time, we also have the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with governmental partners. I look forward to this panel helping us make sense of an uncertain future.

Jennifer Keaton, Vice President of Congressional Affairs

Unlocking the Code 

Unlocking the Code to Social Motivations in Social Media

At this moment in time, where nearly everything is moving online, it is increasingly important to understand what motivates people in their use of social media. We all use a mix of social media channels, but how can we best use them to help accomplish our missions in these challenging times? I’m looking forward to this panels’ insights on this important topic.  

Rob Vernon, Senior Vice President of Communications and Strategy 

Behind the Scenes in Animal Management, Health, and Welfare

You will want to attend the session The SSP at 40: Using Trends and Data to Guide the Way We Reimagine Cooperative Population Management.  Over the last year, the Animal Population Management Committee has been working diligently to reimagine AZA’s cooperatively managed animal programs. This panel discussion will give a behind the scenes look at the data analyses that are guiding the committee’s discussions, as well as provide an opportunity for attendees to ask the panelists about their current ideas. 

Dr. Candice Dorsey, Senior Vice President of Conservation, Management, and Welfare Sciences

Hearing from Talent Across the Community in Conservation

It takes multi-disciplinary talent to achieve conservation success, yet robust conference tracks have traditionally kept people hearing sessions only from within their primary field. This year, you will be able to hear all conservation-related sessions without worrying about them being scheduled opposite one another because they are in different tracks. The opportunity to hear from talent across our community is something I’m looking forward to in the virtual space. 

Shelly Grow, Vice President of Conservation and Science

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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