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

June 15-16, 2019 “Next Level Training” – Training Seminar held at “The Ranch”
Seattle, WA

July 13-19, 2019 Felid TAG Mid-Year Meeting (Foundation Husbandry Course,
Advanced Husbandry Course – sign up ahead!) – Omaha, Nebraska

August 18-22, 2019 AAZK in Indianapolis, IN

September 13-15, 2019 Donkey Welfare Symposium Davis, CA

September 21-22, 2019  “Handling Problem Behavior and Mistakes: Humans &
Animals” – Training Seminar held at “The Ranch” Seattle, WA

September 30- October 4, 2019 New World Primate TAG Husbandry Workshop –
New Bedford, Massachusetts

July 25-26, 2020 – “Hannah Branigan and Ken Ramirez present Shaping with
Precision” – Seattle, WA

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.

This year, we are offering all three different scholarship options. The application deadline for scholarships is June 1, 2019. 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.

Applications can be downloaded here:

Past Scholarship Recipients

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.