A Few Thoughts on AZA's 2022 Mid-year Meeting in Long Beach, CA

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A Few Thoughts on AZA's 2022 Mid-year Meeting in Long Beach, CA

"A picture is worth a thousand words. An experience is worth at least a thousand pictures."
- Dr. Sylvia Alice Earle

With those words on Friday morning's opening keynote, Dr. Earle perfectly encapsulated the main thrust of her optimistic view of what is possible in the world of conservation: for those who want to create enduring change, we must invite others into experiences. Dr. Earle invited the assembled aquarium and zoo leadership to see their organizations as the front lines of these experiences. Not everyone has the ability, resources, or desire to see "critters" in their natural habitats, Dr. Earle noted, but they almost all have the ability, resources, and desire to visit a local aquarium or zoo.

Dr. Earle went on to share story after story, all in her characteristic, joyous lilt, of individuals whose viewpoints on conservation had been changed simply through the experience of joining her on a dive or expedition. She then finished by challenging aquariums and zoos to believe that change is possible and to invite their guests into experiences that could very well fuel conservation efforts into the future.

Moving People to Experience More

Now that the 2022 Mid-Year Meeting has ended, and we are settling back into our routines, one of the enduring emotions I feel is pride. Speak isn't doing the hard work of running an aquarium or zoo, but we have been partnering with aquariums and zoos across the country for nearly two decades to invite people into the experiences you create. The websites we craft, the audience growth campaigns we run, the apps we build are all centered on inviting audiences to experience more through their local aquarium or zoo.

In short, you do the work of creating experiences - we make sure you have more and more folks coming to be a part of those experiences.

I'm very proud of the work we have done and continue to do to support aquariums and zoos across the country, and I count it as a privilege to have been able to join so many of you in Long Beach to discuss how we can move forward together to further your missions of conservation, education, and fun!

The Work You Do Matters

On a fun note, we unveiled our "The Work You Do Matters" stickers at Mid-Year, complete with illustrated otters holding each other's hands. As you probably already know, otters hold onto each other most often when they rest, so they don't drift away from their raft (mind blown moment: I had no idea a group of resting otters was called a raft, and now I'm even more #teamotter).

Well, as many of you told me while we were together, the otter stickers were a hit! And while the illustrated otters are, in fact, adorable, we hope you don't miss the message behind the stickers: the work you do matters. You and your dozens of other team members and volunteers spend your days building and sustaining organizations that are pillars of your local communities; we know the day-to-day work can sometimes feel like a grind, but we hope this message reminds you that the work you do, whether you are leading a team, equiping a marketing campaign, caring for a "critter", cleaning up after an event, or anywhere in between, matters.

If you somehow missed out on the stickers and would like us to get one (or 10) to you, just give me a shout. I will be more than happy to make sure you get a sticker (and who knows, maybe a Speak mug with some Memphis-roasted coffee for good measure).

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Posted by Matt Roberts at 08:07