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The Redwood Coast Chapter's mission is to support conservation, encourage environmental stewardship, and enhance animal care through enrichment and professional development.

“He could tell by the way animals walked that they were keeping time to some kind of music. Maybe it was the song in their own hearts that they walked to.”

Laura Adams Armer, Waterless Mountain

Professional Development

It is important for zookeepers to stay informed of advances in the animal husbandry field and to connect with other zoo professionals. Therefore, part of our chapter's mission is to offer professional development opportunities to our chapter members. It is our goal to send one of our chapter members to the National AAZK conference each year through our scholarship (details below). We also offer workshops for chapter members focused on various topics throughout the year. 

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

Every Monday at 9am PST, free animal training YouTube class with Barbara Heidenreich

Every Thursday at 12pm PST, free animal training Zoom class with Ken Ramirez

- sign up here  to receive the weekly Zoom link from Karen Pryor Clicker Training to participate in Ken's classes

Professional Development Scholarship

Various zoological institutions hold conferences that provide an environment for zookeepers to network, share ideas and methods, and receive training from leaders in the field.

It is our goal to send at least one of our chapter members to the National AAZK conference each year, and we offer a scholarship to help cover conference expenses. If enough money is raised at our annual rummage sale, we also offer two other scholarships for both travel and non-travel professional development opportunities like professional memberships, webinars, or conferences in the field of zoos/aquaria, wildlife, conservation, animal care, ecology, or interpretation/education in these fields.

Each year, we offer professional development scholarships. Please check back in May for details. You must be an active member of both the Redwood Coast AAZK and National AAZK to qualify. Details about qualifying professional development opportunities and the requirements of each scholarship are found on the applications.

Past Scholarship Recipients

2021 - Lindsey Miller, Avian Behavior Lab annual membership (virtual)

2020 - Lindsey Miller, Natural Encounters Inc, TEC talk webinars (virtual) 

2020 - Ruth Mock, Animal Training Academy annual membership (virtual)

2019 - Savanna Schaffer, National AAZK conference in Indianapolis, Indiana

2019 - Emma Hopson, North American Association for Environmental Education national conference, Lexington, Kentucky

2019 - Jessica Brown, Animal Training Academy membership and Animal Behavior Management Alliance membership

2019 - Lindsey Miller, reading materials for International Avian Trainers Certification Board exam

2018 - Kathleen Juliano, Zoological Registrars Association (ZRA) conference in Palm Desert, CA

2018 - Lindsey Miller, Animal Training Fundamentals annual membership

2017 - Lindsey Miller, International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE) conference in Redding, CA (held in Feb. 2018)

2017 - Ruth Mock - National AAZK conference in Washington, DC

2016 - Lindsey Miller and Ruth Mock, Zoological Association of America's (ZAA) mid-year conference in Providence, RI

2015 - Kathleen Juliano, Zoological Registrars Association (ZRA) conference in Tacoma, WA

2015 - Kelsey Kuhn, National AAZK conference in St. Louis, MO

2014 - Natalie Parchman, National AAZK conference in Orlando, FL

2013 - Kelsey Kuhn, National AAZK conference in Greensboro, NC

2012 - Elisa Miller, National AAZK conference in Syracuse, NY

Ruth Mock presenting her poster entitled "Creating Professional Development Opportunities for Keepers at Small, Rural Facilities" at the 2017 AAZK National conference in Washington, D.C.

Kelsey Kuhn presenting her poster entitled "Can We All Just Get Along?" at the 2015 AAZK conference in St. Louis.

Annual AAZK Awards and Grants

Chapter and National members can apply for or nominate each other for national awards. The Award application deadline is May 1 each year.


Lifetime Achievement – AAZK Professional Service Award

Lifetime Achievement – Meritorius Service Award

Lee Houts Advancement in Enrichment (LHAE) Award

Excellence in Zoo Keeper Education

Excellence in Exhibit Renovation

AAZK Excellence in Animal Nutrition Award

Jean M. Hromadka AAZK Excellence in Animal Care Award

The Lutz Ruhe Meritorious Achievement – AAZK Professional of the Year Award

Nico van Strien Leadership in Conservation Award

The Barbara Manspeaker AAZK Chapter of the Year Award

The Anna Merz Award for outstanding work on the BFR fundraiser (due in August)

For more information, visit the Awards Committee website.

The following AAZK National grants are only available for full-time keepers/aquarists in zoological parks and aquariums, who are professional members of AAZK in good standing.


AAZK Professional Development grant to attend conferences or conduct field research

Deadline: March 1

AAZK Conference Professional Development grant to attend the National conference

Deadline: March 1

AAZK Conservation, Preservation and Restoration Grant

Deadline: March 1

AAZK Research Grant to conduct research within zoos/aquariums

Deadline: March 1

AAZK Trees for You and Me Grant for Reforestation

Deadline: May 1

AAZK Bowling for Rhino Conservation Resource Grant for rhino conservation and research

Deadline: June 1

For more information and the applications, visit the Grants Committee website.