I have been a member of AAZK for 13 years and I have been involved with AAZK both at the chapter and the national level. On the national level I was part of the membership resources committee but more recently I was a Co-Chair for the 2013 National Conference held in North Carolina. On the chapter level, I have been involved with the North Carolina chapter where I was President and Vice President for several years. After moving to the Naples Zoo I became involved with the Naples chapter where I was vice president last year and where I am currently the President.
My vision for AAZK is to keep the organization going in the direction it is headed. Over the past several years the educational value of attending a conference has increased. I support the increase of educational opportunities at the conferences and through the online Collaborative Learning Environment. Attending many past conferences and watching the format change and after being a co-chair for a conference with the new format, I truly believe that AAZK is heading in the correct direction for education of members. Through these conferences, the attendees learn about everything from husbandry to leadership skills, fostering growth in their roles within the zoo community. I also believe in networking at the conferences. I have used many of my contacts that I have met throughout the years for everything from enrichment ideas to helping with fundraisers.
I also support the goals of AAZK’s Bowling for Rhinos campaign. I have participated and supported BFR events for many years. I would like to see the program achieve even higher goals for the conservation efforts of Rhinos and other species that live in their habitat. Along with supporting BFR, I also would like to continue to spread the word about the grants and awards that are available through AAZK. Many members do not realize that these opportunities are available and I would like that to change.
This organization has allowed me to connect with wonderful people in our profession and I would like to continue to connect with more of the membership by becoming a member of the board of directors. I have seen this organization grow over the past 13 years and would like to be a part of its future growth.
My name is Bill Steele and I would appreciate the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK).
I am a proud graduate of the Santa Fe Community College Teaching Zoo (Class of 1989) in Gainesville, Fl.
I am fortunate to be a Senior Keeper for the Chicago Zoological Society at Brookfield Zoo, my hometown zoo. I have been a zookeeper at Brookfield Zoo for 25 years. The first half of my career I cared for the Australian collection, since then I have provided care primarily for African hoofstock. I was also a relief night keeper for a number of years and have assisted in many other areas of the zoo. During most of my 25 years, I have been involved with our high school mentee/youth scholar and college intern programs mentoring tomorrow’s zookeepers and conservationists
I have been a Brookfield AAZK Chapter member since our Chapter was reestablished 10 years ago. During this time, I was vice-president for 2 years and this is my fifth consecutive year as the Chapter President. I have attended the National AAZK Conference every year since the combined AAZK/ICZ Conference in Seattle in September, 2009.
As Chapter President, I have encouraged individuals from all over the zoo (staff and volunteers) to become National/Chapter members of AAZK to benefit our chapter and our conservation efforts. This diversity of experience, talent and expectations while at times challenging, makes us a stronger Chapter. I encourage all Chapter members to bring their ideas and suggestions to the Chapter and I encourage member participation at meetings and events. I have established a strong relationship with our host institution, Brookfield Zoo and our Director Dr. Stuart Strahl, who is a strong advocate for AAZK at AZA Conferences and Directors Meetings.
The importance of a strong, respected, professional association cannot be overstated. The opportunity AAZK provides for networking, professional development and animal care training through Conference workshops, The Animal Keepers’ Forum and more recently online are extraordinary. I would continue its efforts in getting these opportunities out to more of the membership. I would work with the other Board of Directors members to continue to improve and strengthen our association and its recognition by institutions that the American Association of Zoo Keepers is the premier zookeeper association.
Thank you for your consideration.
I currently work with 30 different species as an Animal Keeper at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C., which include golden lion tamarins, two-toed sloths, tamanduas and Przewalski’s horses. Previously, I was an Animal Keeper at CuriOdyssey in California and a Biologist at the California Academy of Sciences. I have also volunteered at the Marine Mammal Center in wildlife rehabilitation, the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory with fieldwork, and the San Francisco Zoo. I graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice.
I serve on AAZK’s Professional Development Committee (PDC) and am one of the founding members of the Communication Committee. As a PDC member, I work to provide resources for members through National Conferences and AAZK Online. On the Communication Committee I facilitate communication about professional development opportunities, keeper recognition, deadlines and other pertinent information through social media. In the last year, AAZK’s social media following and engagement increased by over 50%.
I previously served as President for the Bay Area AAZK Chapter, coordinating and implementing fundraisers, workshops and a mini conference amongst 6 different facilities annually. I helped organize and promote several innovative fundraisers, which led to chapter record funds being raised for national and international conservation projects. I’m now an active member of the National Capital AAZK Chapter. It is my honor to help plan for the 2017 National AAZK Conference at the National Zoo.
I am ready and eager to continue working for all of you through AAZK to advance the profession, improve animal care and protect our natural resources. My mission is helping my fellow colleagues and the species we treasure. Thank you for considering me to serve on the Board of Directors.
While at Mesker, I joined AAZK and became part of the newly re-chartered chapter at the zoo in 2008. I was secretary of the chapter from 2010 until I left in 2014 and was also active in their BFR event. During my tenure there, I initiated the construction of a rain garden on zoo grounds, with AAZK in charge of the upkeep. I also involved our chapter in joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group that would provide our animals with novel food enrichment, as well as support green agriculture in our community.
I am active in National AAZK as well. In 2011 I joined National AAZK’s Conservation Committee and became co-coordinator of the Conservation Station (CS) in The Forum. I have written articles for the Conservation Station as well: one on the CSA and another on The Horns and Heroes Project, which raises money for rhino conservation. I presented at the Philadelphia AAZK conference in 2010 and designed a poster used at the Orlando AAZK.
AAZK has provided me with incredible opportunities to increase my knowledge in my chosen field. It has given me a community to turn to for answers concerning husbandry, enrichment, and training. Serving on an AAZK committee which provided guidance and opportunities in conservation has been a privilege. It has also given me a platform to speak to the public about what we do and how much we contribute to conservation efforts locally and abroad. I believe AAZK’s strength lies in our celebration of each other and our accomplishments, discoveries, and hands-on knowledge. I want those celebrations to be in the mainstream media. I want us on CNN, NPR, even The Daily Show and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I see National AAZK being able to do an “Ask a Keeper” series on television, radio, and in mainstream print publications. If such possibilities are as exciting to you as they are to me, please vote for me as an AAZK Board of Director. I promise to champion the cause!
In 2013, I helped re-start the Pittsburgh AAZK Chapter and have served as President since that time. During my tenure, I have strived to lead our chapter by example through my strong leadership skills and participation. In the first two years the Pittsburgh AAZK Chapter raised over $23,000 for conservation groups. I work diligently on integrating new ideas to help the Chapter. Among my initiatives is institution of an education program in order to enhance the skills and experience of our members. I pride myself on the relationship and open lines of communication between the Chapter and the two institutions associated with the chapter, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and the National Aviary. I believe that new ideas as well as open communication are an important part of the success of any organization and would be honored to share my thoughts and ideas on an expanded level with the AAZK Board of Directors.
I currently work hard at supporting AAZK on the National level by recruiting new members to the local chapter and stressing the importance of having every Chapter member join at the national level. Currently 100% of our chapter members are national members. I attended the 2014 National AAZK Conference in Orlando and presented a poster on River Otter Coat Quality. I am eager to contribute even more by serving as a reliable member of the Board of Directors.
I began my zoo-keeping career with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium in 2010, starting as an intern, then a temporary keeper, and becoming a full time keeper in 2012. I work with a variety of animals including Sea Lions, River Otters and Kangaroos. In addition to my general duties I have been actively involved in introducing new behaviors to the animals and research projects designed to promote species wellbeing. Additionally, I have developed and delivered public education presentations, training demonstrations and assist with the internship program.
I have also worked in an emergency clinic, day practice, and in laboratory research. Working as a Lab Manger and as Head Veterinary Technician has given me the opportunity to manage staff, and learn leadership skills that could be useful as a Board of Directors member. I have gained communication and motivational skills that I believe could be a great asset to AAZK. My passion and dedication to the field of Zoo Keeping is a continuous driving force in my desire to help others succeed in this field
I have been a professional member of National AAZK and member of the Utah Chapter AAZK for my entire career. I have served as Chapter President and Vice President many times. As the long time coordinator for our Bowling for Rhinos event I have helped our chapter grow to become one of the leaders in the national fundraising effort. I was the National BFR trip winner in 2003 and in 2005 and was proud to represent AAZK in Kenya and Indonesia, respectively. I have also served as the Conference Chair for the 2008 National Conference hosted by the Utah Chapter AAZK. I utilized my organizational and communications skills to run a successful conference and to help lay the groundwork for future conferences and workshops.
I am currently the Chair for the newly formed National AAZK Communication Committee. I feel that I am a dynamic leader and I am excited to be working with such a highly creative team. As the Chair I am responsible for project management involving social media, Association information and networking. I was also recently appointed as an interim member of the Board of Directors. In this capacity I will be an acting Board Member and provide oversight for the Communication Committee through the National Conference in September 2015. I am honored to be granted this opportunity, which will help me hit the ground running if elected as a full-time board member.
When it comes to AAZK, I am passionate, dedicated, and hardworking. As a member of the Board of Directors, I hope to represent the members of AAZK where I can have a positive impact on the growing network of animal care professionals across the country and around the world. I will achieve this through strong leadership and effective, engaging communication. I am committed to elevating animal care through professionalism, creativity, and initiative.
Thank you for your consideration.
AAZK has played a vital role in my professional development since the beginning of my animal career. It started for me as a circle of friends where I could share my passion about zoo keeping. Swapping stories of enrichment gone wrong, or how many times the kestrel tried to attack my head today. However, over the years it has become so much more. After attending conferences, being a part of AAZK, and working at zoos in different parts of the world, I realized that we all have so much information to share. Things that make our jobs and the lives animals we care for so much better. No matter where I worked in the world, whether it was a big city, a small island or in the middle of the desert, keepers shared the same passion for their work and the wildlife they care for.
Over the past 7 years I have been working at America’s Teaching Zoo, training students for future careers as zookeepers and animal trainers. As a staff member here I try to teach the students there is more than one correct way of doing things. Just because we are a teaching facility doesn’t mean our way is the only way of getting things done. We have so much to learn from fellow keepers and other institutions. Every facility I have worked has done things a little differently, and one wasn’t necessarily better than the other. Just what worked best for that situation. While working at a zoo on the small Caribbean island of St. Maarten, I was able to teach the keepers new enrichment and animal care ideas. While studying in Australia, I learned different animal care and training techniques that I have been able to apply in other situations.
AAZK has played a vital role in connecting keepers to be able to share information. Everything from training and diet tips to enrichment ideas and so on. Something I hope to continue in AAZK is that keeper connection all around the world; making communication fast, fun and easy to continue to learn from each other. We all have such valuable knowledge in our industry and sharing it will help us all continue to grow, keep us motivated to do our best and remind us why we have the best career imaginable.