Earlier this week, I joined representatives from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and several of our AZA-accredited members on Capitol Hill for the 10th Annual Museums Advocacy Day.
Museums Advocacy Day is AZA’s chance to join with other museums to demonstrate to Congress the importance of federal funding and other issues affecting museums and emphasize how museums, zoos, and aquariums are essential partners at the federal, state, and local levels in providing education and cultural opportunities that adults and children may otherwise never enjoy.
In 2018, funding and support for zoos, aquariums, and other facilities are more important than ever. AZA focused this year on two critical areas: continued funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs, and continued support of wildlife through The Multinational Species Conservation Fund.
Federal agencies like NOAA, NASA, and NIH provide critical support for STEM education. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are leaders in science education and connect hundreds of thousands of visitors to wildlife they would not have the chance to learn about elsewhere. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums across the globe welcome 195 million visitors annually, including children and school groups. Just last year, more than 5.6 million people participated in STEM programming offered on-site and online by dozens of our facilities. Additionally, in 2016, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums provided training and curriculum materials for more than 79,000 teachers. AZA continues to advocate for robust funding of STEM programs in order to provide our invaluable learning opportunities.
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are also passionate about protecting species in the wild and in our care. Congress has supported this mission in the past through the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, which benefit species of global importance like elephants, tigers, rhinos, great apes, and sea turtles. The MSCF program has had a tremendous impact by funding projects that control poaching, reduce human-wildlife conflict, and protect essential habitat around the world. In 2016, AZA members supported conservation projects in 127 countries around the world, benefiting over 800 endangered or threatened species and subspecies. AZA lobbied Congress for support of H.R. 227, which would authorize the MSCF program through 2022 and enable critical conservation projects to continue.
Those who work at zoos, aquariums, nature centers, science centers and other museums are best equipped to inform our legislators of the role our facilities play and the critical work that we do.
Thank you to all of the AZA members who joined us on this important day!