Pre-Conference Workshops

Techniques in Lean and Process Improvement

Sunday, September 23, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Additional $150 registration fee
- lunch will be provided

Workshop Facilitators: Sophia Ernst, Peak Performance Manager, Denver Zoo
Dordane Nasseri, Director of Staff Learning & Development, Denver Zoo
Hollie Colahan, Vice President of Animal Care, Denver Zoo

Participants are introduced to Lean concepts that will help identify and eliminate “waste” within processes. What do we mean by waste? Waste can be anything from waiting for work to get back to you, to re-doing something because of an error, or even the waste that comes with under-utilizing the human talent around us. Regardless of your title or department, this award-winning course will give you relevant tools to begin identifying those every-day pain points or bottlenecks and then begin the process of eliminating them.  Using Lean tools and techniques, participants will be able to effectively identify and eliminate “waste” within processes. Concepts that are learned can be applied to overhaul day-to-day processes or can be applied to large-scale complex projects involving multiple business lines and stakeholders.

Click here for a video demonstrating how Denver Zoo has leveraged Lean.


Contemporary Animal Training

Sunday, September 23, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Additional $150 registration fee - lunch will be provided

Workshop Facilitators: Steve Martin, President/CEO, Natural Encounters, Inc. & Dr. Susan Friedman, Professor Emeritus, Utah State

The goals of this workshop are to clarify and refine participants’ understanding and application of training knowledge and skills. Topics include: Operant learning principals, empowering animals with Choice and Control, giving animals a voice in the training dialog, replacing unwanted behavior with desirable behavior, creating motivation, building trusting relationships, training for husbandry, medical and management procedures, enrichment, producing inspirational educational programs, creating high performance teams, and much more.

After completing this workshop, participants will be able to: 1) Adjust antecedents and consequences to establish more reliable and desirable behavior, 2) Realize how giving animals more choice will lead to more reliable behavior, 3) Establish a dialog instead of a monologue with animals that leads to more sensitivity to their animals’ body language, 4) Replace problem behaviors with desirable behaviors, 5,) Realize how the science of behavior change principals are evident in all behavior on this planet and how to use this knowledge to promote better training outcomes, 5) Create keeper talks and other educational programs that inspire caring that leads to conservation action.


Leadership Essentials

Sunday, September 23, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Additional $150 registration fee - lunch will be provided

Workshop Leader: Angie Brown, Director of Human Resources, The Florida Aquarium

This workshop is for middle supervisors/managers and emerging leaders looking for more influence and skills to become a great leader in the AZA Community.  We will use DiSC assessment to learn more about you and how you can use the knowledge gained from the assessment to hire and unleash the talent on your teams.  You will learn how to communicate, coach, give feedback, set goals and hold your staff accountable.


Program Evaluation in Zoos and Aquariums

Sunday, September 23, 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Additional $75 registration fee

Workshop Facilitators: Kathayoon Khalil, Principal Evaluator, Seattle Aquarium & Joy Kubarek, Senior Research Associate, PEER Associates

Evaluation interest is on the rise, yet many zoos and aquariums lack the knowledge or skills to conduct evaluation. This workshop introduces the essential components of conducting evaluation in a zoo or aquarium setting. It will highlight case studies from zoos and aquariums, providing real examples to learn from. Participants will have the opportunity to practice skills such as writing an evaluation plan and collecting and analyzing data. This helps lay the foundation for zoo and aquarium professionals to start the evaluation process and piques their interest to want to learn more.

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