2014 North America Quarterly Report


2014 – 2015

 The Marine Mammal Center launched “Ocean Ambassadors”, a multi-contact marine science education program designed to support the unique needs of middle school teachers and their students. In its inaugural year, “Ocean Ambassadors” reached 225 students; due to overwhelming interest and support from generous donors, the program will quadruple its reach to over 900 students in the 2015-2016 academic year. In addition to the environmental and wildlife education community, the “Ocean Ambassadors” program model and impacts will be disseminated to a wider audience at technical conferences, such as the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM) and the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM).

The 2015 AZA Annual Conference, scheduled for September 17-21, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah, includes 20 sessions in the Education Track plus a full-day Conservation Education Committee meeting open to all and two education-focused workshops.

AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) initiative was launched in May 2015 and targets 10 endangered species. The education goals of SAFE revolve around engaging the public and promoting public action. We want zoo and aquarium visitors to learn about the exciting and important conservation work AZA-accredited institutions do, support the conservation efforts of their local AZA-accredited facility, and take action to save wildlife and habitats. More information is at www.aza.org/safe.

With support from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, AZA is continuing the Nature Play Begins at Your Zoo & Aquarium initiative. Since 2014, the project has awarded $500,000 to support 74 nature play programs for families at AZA-accredited institutions. Resources developed in the first year include a Family Nature Clubs in Zoo & Aquariums toolkit, a game-based app called Tails Up!, and an infographic addressing the barriers to nature play. Currently in development are two e-guides, one for families and one for educators. Details at www.aza.org/nature-play.

AZA used a new online database to collect information about education programs at AZA accredited institutions, to be included in the Annual Report on Conservation and Science. Responses from 143 facilities provided data on a total of 2,599 programs. A summary report will be available at www.aza.org/annual-report-on-conservation-and-science/.

AZA’s Professional Development Program now includes 20 in-person training courses, with new topics in Animal Transport, Animal Welfare and Aquarium Management. Details at aza.org/professional-training.   In addition, a new e-learning portal is expanding AZA’s web-based course offerings. Go to www.elearning.aza.org to get started with online training around FrogWatch USA™ and Environmental Education Capacity. And the Professional Development Certificate Program (aza.org/certificate.aspx) offers recognition for individuals who complete a series of training experiences around particular concentrations.

The Arizona Center for Nature Conservation, the umbrella organization that operates the Phoenix Zoo, recently received approval from the City of Phoenix Parks Board to execute an agreement to operate the South Mountain Environmental Education Center (lovingly referred to as “SMEEC”). This means that once the legal steps are completed, the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation and the Phoenix Zoo will run educational programs and events from an off-site center at the largest municipal park in the United States.


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