Gary Clarke & Clayton Freiheit Scholarship

This scholarship honors two people who demonstrated a commitment to mentoring younger professionals throughout their careers within AZA zoos and aquariums. It is named after Gary Clarke, former director of the Topeka Zoo, and Clayton Freiheit, former president/CEO of Denver Zoo. Clarke was a founding member of AAZPA (now AZA). Both Clarke and Freiheit served terms as Chairs of the AZA Accreditation Commission and as AZA board presidents. This scholarship provides opportunities to individuals who demonstrate leadership potential within the zoo and aquarium industry and may be applied to any of the AZA Professional Development Courses.

Scholarship Application

2024 application coming soon. Click here for an example of the 2023 application. Full submission information is included in the application. Only one scholarship application may be submitted per individual per year. Members working at international AZA institutions are welcome to apply. Applications are evaluated and recipients are chosen by the AZA Professional Development Committee. You must be an individual member at an AZA-accredited or certified facility to apply. 

Application Timeline
  • 2024 Scholarship Applications open in Summer 2023
  • Applicants will be notified of their application status in Fall 2023
  • All scholarships must be used for Professional Development courses in 2024

Application Materials:

  • Scholarship Application Form
  • Two (2) Letters of Reference
  • Resume 

Please note: If you do not receive the award and plan to take the course anyway, the scholarship application does not represent a reserved space in an AZA course. To secure a space in a course you must submit a complete registration, and pay the tuition in full. If you receive the award, your full tuition payment will be refunded.

Detailed Award Coverage

  • Course registration (full)
  • Round-trip airfare from the award recipient’s point of origin to the destination city (up to $700)
  • Round-trip airport shuttle ground transportation (full)
  • Hotel/lodging throughout the duration of the course (based on double occupancy rate)
  • A stipend to cover meals and incidentals.

Any questions, contact the Professional Development Program at 

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