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

International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE)

Redding, CA, February 21-25, 2018

Wildlife and Exotic Animal Symposium
Davis, CA, February 24-25, 2018

The Art and Science of Animal Training 
Irving, TX, March 24-25, 2018

Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) Annual Conference
San Antonio, TX, April 8-13, 2018

Practical Zoo Nutrition Management

Washington, DC, May 7-11, 2018

National AAZK conference
Denver, CO, October 4-8, 2018

Otter Keeper Workshop
Portland, OR, October 15-20, 2018 

National AAZK conference
Indianapolis, IN, August 18-22, 2019

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 a second scholarship that can be used to attend another workshop or conference in the zoo keeping or closely-related field. The application deadline for both scholarships is June 1st of each year. You must be an active member of both the Redwood Coast AAZK and National AAZK to qualify. Applications for the National AAZK Conference scholarship can be found here. Applications for the Alternative Conference scholarship (If offered) can be found here. For information on how to join either RCAAZK or AAZK, click here

Past Scholarship Recipients

2017 - Lindsey Miller, International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE) conference in Redding, CA (being 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

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.