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Workshop Descriptions

Exotic Animal Response and Heavy Rescue Training
Saturday, April 4, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm and Sunday, April 5, 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
Registration for Mid-Year is not required to attend this training

This training introduces key Animal Search and Rescue (ASAR) and technical ropes/rigging rescue techniques to exotic animal situations and environments. Participants will engage problem solving skills to challenging mega-vertebrate scenarios and past case studies. In addition, attendees will acquire new rescue “tools” to add to their situational awareness considerations when dealing with a down or trapped animal. After an initial classroom session, the training will be hands-on for the remaining class time as participants learn basic National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) ropes/rescue skills. This course finishes with a sling lift simulation with a 20-foot-tall tripod and XXL lift equipment from Hast Rescue.  

Upon completion of this training, participants will have the foundational knowledge needed to assist as in-house technical responders, or to work alongside credentialed response teams as: 
  • Field responder Subject Matter Experts (SME)
  • Field responder ASAR Operations – Exotic Specialist
Participants will receive a certificate of completion and skill-sheet compliant with the Exotic Animal Strike Team (EAST) training guidelines. Please note: this training is not intended to replace any state or local requirements.   

Instructors: Eric Thompson (Lead Instructor), Carla Lewis (Staff), Morgan Rivera (Staff). For instructor bios visit eerular.org/staff/

Prerequisites: It is strongly recommended that participants complete Incident Command System (ICS) 100 and 200 before attending this training. These courses are available online free of charge at: training.fema.gov/nims/.

Audience: Technical rescue guidelines and decisions are best made when combining perspectives from many disciplines. This class will appeal to keepers, curators, veterinary staff, leadership roles, etc. Participants must be currently employed at a zoo, aquarium, or like facility. Please note: this is a hands on training with physical elements. Participants will be asked to sign a waiver at the start of the class.

To register visit: https://forms.gle/ywbSDAu3QBmeNNL5A.

This class is being offered free of charge by the Zoo and Aquarium All Hazards Preparedness, Response and Recovery (ZAHP) Fusion Center, a USDA funded initiative that serves the entire exotic animal industry.   

Please contact Ashley Zielinski with any questions.  

Diversity Summit
Sunday, April 5, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Join us for a day of guest speakers and rich conversation as we learn about and discuss unconscious bias, privilege, diversity, equity, & inclusion benchmarks and creating a culture of diversity and inclusion.
As a result of participating in the Summit, you will:
  • Identify your authentic leadership style
  • Explore unconscious bias and identify ways in which to mitigate the impacts of your own bias
  • Utilize an assets-based framework to mitigate bias in organizational leadership habits
  • Hear stories of success and challenges from your peers and obtain new resources
Morning Facilitators: Youth Outside
Youth Outside will deliver the morning workshop on Authentic Leadership, exploring the intersections of identity, and how identity shapes our authentic leadership models. Additionally, participants will explore ways to mitigate potential unconscious bias that might show up in their leadership style. Lastly, participants will consider the implications of unconscious bias on the use of assets-based versus deficits-based language.
Afternoon Sessions: Hear from your peers!
In the afternoon, we will hear from peers who will share their personal stories of success and challenges surrounding topics like Recruitment, Hiring, Training and Retention; Diversity & Inclusion Plans; and Building & Growing Meaningful Partnerships.

Feel free to join us for the full day or just some of it. The Diversity Summit is included in your Mid-Year Meeting registration, but an RSVP is required.
Safety Summit
Sunday, April 5, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm and Monday, April 6, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

The Safety Summit is not just for "safety people", safety is everyone’s job. Over the course of two days, the summit will cover a variety of safety and security related topics pertinent to the zoo and aquarium industry. Make sure you look at the line up and plan to attend any of the sessions that interest you!

Day 1 - Morning Sessions
The Safety Summit will kick off with an anonymous review of the safety concerns noted during the last several years of accreditation inspections. This “Top 10” list, presented by the Animal Escapes Subcommittee, will surely be a critical tool for any institution preparing for accreditation. And, aren’t we all preparing for accreditation? Furthermore, participants will learn about building partnerships with local agencies and first responders, ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) training and layered security. In addition, there will be discussions about firearms selection and handling, gun team accountability, enhanced dart training, and containment protocol and inspections. You will leave with an increased understanding of building and maintaining a firearms program as well as example practices for inspecting your containment systems.

Day 1 - Afternoon Sessions
Join us for a presentation on the Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities Code (NFPA 150) and how it applies to zoos and aquariums. Next, learn about Just Culture, a values-supportive model of shared accountability, including what it is, why it works, zoo specific tools, and implementation stories. In addition, we will discuss how to take a more proactive approach to safety and the implementation of a continuous improvement program. Round out day one of the summit learning about compassion fatigue, burn out, fit for duty, and mental health as they relate to safety in the zoo industry. What do these terms mean in our industry? The focus of these sessions will be on how to identify and manage these issues.

Day 2 - Morning Sessions
Kick off Day 2 with a variety of presentations and discussions regarding emergency preparedness. Learn how other institutions are planning for more unusual emergencies such as fire, earthquake, and planned power outages. Afterwards, attend a “town hall” style discussion regarding the implementation of 2-lock, 2-key systems and other safety measures at a variety of institutions. Hear from animal care professionals who have implemented these measures, and are using them daily, and ask questions to gain a better understanding of how to implement these controls at your zoo. Round out the morning sessions learning about aquarium and dive safety. You will learn about the latest developments in aquarium safety with a discussion surrounding dive safety requirements and regulations.

Day 2 - Afternoon Sessions
Learn about non-dive related procedures, training, and exercises as they relate to Aquariums, aquatic exhibits, and bodies of water that many of us have at our facilities. The Safety Summit will conclude with a variety of topics around staff training including strategies for surviving predator attacks, auditing keeper routines, continuous improvement, and how to conduct an effective table top exercise. Animal keepers will enjoy the experience as they will stretch their span of control to focus on the entire exercise.

Increasing Mate Compatibility for Improving Population Sustainability
Monday, April 6, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday, April 7, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

The goal of this workshop, sponsored by the AZA Reproductive Management Center (RMC) and the Behavior Scientific Advisory Group (BSAG), is to increase our understanding of the factors influencing mate compatibility, a key component of successful reproduction. The organizers will give an overview of mate compatibility challenges and guest speakers will discuss factors that influence compatibility in a variety of species. Participants will identify priority species and issues for further discussion. Working groups will be provided with examples of techniques for assessing and monitoring aspects of behavioral compatibility, as well as practical methods for offering mate choice which will be beneficial for developing approaches that address these issues in the prioritized species discussed. In doing so, tools will be developed for promoting compatibility that can lead to reproductive success, the basis for sustainable populations.  
This 1.5-day workshop is free but limited to 50 people. Presentations and supporting materials will be provided digitally to all participants. The workshop is open to all 2020 AZA Mid-Year Meeting attendees, but preference will be given to SSP Coordinators and individuals currently managing conservation breeding programs. Once you have registered for the AZA Mid-Year meeting, please email Monica McDonald to RSVP for this workshop.
Facilitation Basics for Effective Meetings
Wednesday, April 8, 9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Additional $150 fee

This workshop provides tools to design and implement productive meetings. Participants will learn basic facilitation skills and techniques for dealing with disruptive behaviors. Class time is provided to practice using tools and skills to plan and facilitate meetings that accomplish objectives while minimizing conflict. Participants at every level are welcome, since the new skills will be useful even when attending, but not running, a meeting.

Workshop Facilitator: Jen West, Coastal Training Program Coordinator, Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Green Summit
Wednesday, April 8, 9:30 am - 5:30 pm and Thursday, April 9, 8:00 am - 5:30 pm

This year’s Green Summit focus is on Integrating Sustainability Across Your Organization: Establishing a New Industry Norm with sessions covering the following topics: 
•    Climate Change: Messaging & Education
•    Utilizing Circular Economy Practices, Green Purchasing Policies, and Vendor/Supplier
•    Influence to Increase Waste Reduction in Our Industry 
•    The Brass Tacks of Resource Management
•    Shifting Cultures: Making Sustainability as a Part of Everyone’s Core Job
•    Dynamic Design & Building to Last
•    Going Net Zero, Beyond Net Zero, and Focusing in Regenerative Resilience
•    Local Voices on Sustainability: Palm Springs & Palm Desert 
•    Engaging Our Communities in Local Conservation & Supporting Our Neighbors with Sustainability

The Summit will be April 8-9, with a collaborative thinking session on the 7th before Zoo Day.



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