Education Advisors and Specialists are passionate about saving species through community engagement and education. Through collaboration with AZA Animal Programs, which include Taxon Advisory Groups, Species Survival Plan® Programs, Scientific Advisory Groups, and SAFE, Education Advisors can have a profound impact on species conservation around the world and across AZA institutions. While AZA Animal and Conservation Program leaders are committed to and supportive of education, Education Advisors bring professional expertise to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of both project-based and ongoing education initiatives.
There are two opportunities for individuals interested in working with AZA Animal and Conservation Program leaders to advance species conservation through public engagement – becoming an Education Advisor or project-based Education Specialist.
Education Specialists contribute to the goals of AZA Animal and Conservation Programs by helping to develop educational materials and projects. Becoming an Education Specialist is a great way to network and develop skills while contributing to the conservation of species. Education Specialists within a program work collaboratively with each other and are supported by the program’s Education Advisor. Key responsibilities include:
- Participate in setting goals and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) objectives and outcomes, led by the program’s Education Advisor.
- Undertake project-based work in alignment with the identified goals and objectives.
- Work collaboratively with other Education Specialists to achieve project goals and objectives.
- Communicate regularly and effectively with other Education Specialists and the Education Advisor.
Education Advisors are professional educators that work alongside Animal and Conservation Program leaders to advance the conservation and understanding of species by providing direction to and coordination of the project-based Education Specialists. Key responsibilities of a program’s Education Advisor include:
- Collaborate with Animal and Conservation Program leaders and project-based Education Specialists in setting public engagement goals and SMART objectives and outcomes.
- Establish and maintain partnerships with program leaders.
- Provide guidance to project-based Education Specialists in work aligned with public engagement goals, objectives, and outcomes. Regularly monitor the status of projects and undertake project work as needed.
- Maintain contact information for all Education Specialists and ensure the CEC (Conservation Education Committee) is kept up to date. Support the CEC in recruitment of Education Specialists to fill open positions for species and/or project work.
- Ensure regular communication among Education Specialists.
- Participate in regular communications with the CEC, including an annual survey and quarterly conference calls.
- Facilitate dissemination of work of Education Specialists.
- Attend at least one program meeting per year, including closed sessions. Timing and location is program dependent. At this meeting:
- Present on work of the Education Advisor and Education Specialists
- Solicit feedback and suggestions
- Provide Education Specialists with updates following meetings
The Work of Education Advisors and Education Specialists
After teams collaborate to set education and community engagement goals and SMART objectives and outcomes, operational strategies are identified to meet those goals at the regional, national, and international levels. Examples of team projects include:
- Developing curriculum and teaching kits for Zoo/Aquarium programs
- Identifying interpretive themes to support messaging across institutions
- Identifying potential community engagement partners
- Developing animal fact sheets
- Developing and maintaining websites and a social media presence for both public and professional audiences
- Seeking and writing grant proposals to support project work
- Developing fundraising toolkits for use across institutions – i.e. Margaritas for Vaquitas
- Facilitating trainings/workshops for colleagues
- Writing newsletters, children’s books, articles, and other publications
- Creating and/or hosting special events, such as World “Insert Animal Here” Day events
- Supporting/seeking opportunities for community-based conservation projects
Filling the Role of Education Advisor/Education Specialist
- Download and carefully read through the Education Advisor Handbook. The handbook was created for this program by the Conservation Education Committee.
- If you have a specific program in mind, contact the CEC Education Advisors to Animal and Conservation Programs Initiative at email@example.com to confirm a vacancy. If you are flexible, skip this step.
- Complete the application for the position of interest: Education Advisor Application or Education Specialist Application
- Send the completed application and required support materials to the CEC Education Advisors to Animal and Conservation Programs Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Animal Program Leaders:
All applications for Education Specialists will be reviewed by the CEC Education Advisors to Animal and Conservation Programs Initiative. The CEC maintains a database of Education Advisors and works with Education Advisors to ensure that they are supported and effective in their roles. Program leaders or current Education Advisors and Specialists who receive expressions of interest directly or would like to recommend an individual to support their program should direct these inquiries to the CEC.
The Selection Process:
Upon receipt of an application for Education Advisor, the Conservation Education Committee will review the application for completeness and qualifications. If qualified, the application will be forwarded to the program leader with the CEC’s recommendation.
Resources for Education Advisors
Please contact the Conservation Education Committee’s Education Advisors to Animal and Conservation Programs Initiative directly at email@example.com.