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San Diego Zoo Global Academy, July 2018. Photo African penguin.

 Compass imageRadar for Training

By Gary Priest, Curator of Animal Care Training, San Diego Zoo Global Academy

This year, the Fourth of July fell on Wednesday. I needed to work that day, but on Friday, I got the opportunity to begin a three-day weekend. My wife couldn’t join me, but she encouraged me to leave and have fun. She didn’t have to say it twice! I couldn’t get to the ocean fast enough. I hitched up the boat and drove to the marina at Dana Point, to head into the ocean and look for whales and dolphins. Later, after a great dinner, I spent a pleasant night aboard.

That same weekend, Southern Californians experienced a 100-plus-degree heat wave. Apparently, a lot of other boaters also decided to get out on the cool Pacific. Five miles offshore, with unlimited visibility and Catalina Island 18 miles away on the horizon, I actually decided to switch on my boat’s radar because there was so much boat traffic on the Pacific Ocean.

This circumstance got me thinking about my need for radar, and zoo and aquarium management. Radar displays an electronic picture of solid things in the vicinity of your vessel. It also paints a picture for how close the objects are. If the object is moving, radar displays its course and provides a proximity warning to help prevent collisions at sea.

Here is your Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation proximity warning from our Academy “radar.” (Pretty clever, huh?) With AZA’s institutional accreditation cycle every five years, right now it is a safe bet that at least a third of you reading this—including those of us here in San Diego—are anticipating your next accreditation inspection. Summer is busy, in our business. Many of us have just finished a major construction project or are beginning to plan for next year’s new exhibits. Attendance is up, hiring is up, and like the increase in hours of daily sunshine, your work days are longer, too.

In this busy environment, you need radar to tell you where solid objects are, how fast they may be moving, and if (or when) their course will intersect with yours. With that information, you can do a more informed job of steering your own vessel. It is not too soon to start thinking about assigning staff, at opportune times during the year, to take the Zoonotic Disease Prevention and Biosecurity training courses through the Academy. Also highly recommended is the Animal Welfare Professional course for staff members who are animal care professionals, and the Animal Welfare General course for others at zoos or aquariums. Animal welfare is a focus for our industry, and this online training is available for your staff, too. The other Academy animal care training courses will help round out your training opportunities prior to accreditation. This should help you continue to enjoy your journey as much as I did mine last weekend. To see our animal care training courses, visit the Academy’s course page here.

For more information about this article, please contact Gary Priest, curator of animal care training, San Diego Zoo Global Academy gpriest@sandiegozoo.org.


Academy News

Aquarium of NiagaraSan Diego Zoo Global Academy Puts the Aquarium of Niagara in the Spotlight
The Aquarium of Niagara in Niagara Falls, New York is part of the Academy’s collaborative learning environment!


National Marine Educators Association Spotlights San Diego Zoo Global Academy
San Diego Zoo Global Academy has been invited to present a session on blended and online learning at the National Marine Educators Association’s (NMEA) national conference this summer in Long Beach, California. The session, titled “Full Steam Ahead: World-class Training at Your Fingertips,” shares the experience of how San Diego Zoo Global integrated online training into the current Academy program to overcome one of the major challenges of training: getting all participants together in one place, at one time. The program structure makes it easy for individuals to learn at their own rate and provides the freedom to train anywhere, at any time

NMEA is an influential, member-based organization of classroom teachers, informal educators, university professors, scientists, and more from around the world, working together to advance the understanding and protection of freshwater and marine ecosystems. From scientists working in the deep sea to students studying underwater archeology in the Great Lakes, NMEA members are dedicated to “making known the world of water,” both fresh and salt. NMEA educates and inspires people to understand and value their relationship with the ocean and all watersheds, providing access to the best available science and educational practices and resources. The organization links members to other professional organizations, enabling the sharing of ideas, resources, and progress.

The annual NMEA Conference will be held July 17 through 21 aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The conference theme is “Charting a Course for Conservation.”

Learn more about the NMEA Conference here


CypherworxAdministrator’s Users Group Webinar
Please join us for the Administrator’s Users Group Webinar, hosted by Academy partner CypherWorx. The next webinar is Wednesday, July 18, at 11 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

Register for this webinar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Academy Contributors

Five Must-reads for World Changers

The Goodman CenterBy Andy Goodman, Director, The Goodman Center

In February, we introduced Andy Goodman of The Goodman Center as a new contributor. Here are links to the February and April issues of the newsletter, containing his articles, as a refresher:

SDZG Academy Newsletter-February 2018

SDZG Academy Newsletter-April 2018

Every summer for the last 19 years, The Goodman Center has recommended books especially for people in the “changing-the-world” business (including nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and more). Normally, we review books published in the current year that can help you communicate more effectively. But this year, we thought we’d try something a little different: we’ve compiled a list of five foundational texts that we believe are absolute must-reads. As you’ll see, our recommendations include books originally published as many as 50 years ago, but they have stood the test of time and, more importantly, they provide guidance that can help you right now.

Diffusion of Innovations, by Everett Rogers (Free Press, 5th ed. © 2003)
Even 56 years after its debut, Diffusion remains the definitive manual for introducing new ideas and convincing millions of people to try them—even if this wasn’t the author’s intention. Diffusion is an exhaustive analysis of over 500 innovations, from the cure for scurvy (which took nearly two centuries to gain acceptance) to mobile phones (which went from novelty to ubiquity in about two seconds). Rogers, who coined the term “early adopter,” studied these innovations to learn what makes a new idea attractive, how it spreads from one person to another, and what factors accelerate that diffusion. One caveat: Diffusion is not a breezy read. There are long sections worth skipping (chapters 2 and 3 on the history of diffusion research are positively sleep-inducing), but Rogers’ analysis of why some new ideas catch on while others don’t may provide the key to making your next new idea stick.

Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, by Antonio Damasio (Penguin Books, © 2005)
“I think, therefore I am,” wrote Rene Descartes, and for centuries this statement has stood as a cornerstone of Western philosophy. Antonio Damasio, neuroscientist and author, begs to differ. A more accurate description of the human experience, Damasio asserts, would be “I think and feel, therefore I am,” because thought and emotion are intertwined and inseparable. This has important implications for decision-making, which Damasio maintains is not an entirely rational process. Emotions are always in the mix and often are the determining factor. And that has important implications for good causes that want to influence how others decide. If your outreach doesn’t speak to your audience’s emotional as well as their rational side, you’re not working both sides of the brain. And if your colleagues have derided emotional messages as unduly “melodramatic” or “manipulative,” Descartes’ Error, first published in 1994, provides solid evidence to counter those arguments.

Numbers and Nerves—Information, Emotion and Meaning in a World of Data, edited by Scott Slovic and Paul Slovic (Oregon State University Press, © 2015)
“We require data in order to describe such phenomena as contamination, genocide, species extinction, and climate change,” the Slovics write in the opening of this important new book. “But the data alone, while bolstering the authority of journalists and scientists, tend to wash past audiences with minimal impact.” This conundrum provides the inspiration for a series of essays by Nicholas Kristof, Annie Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben, Homero and Betty Aridjis, and many others. The overarching conclusion, which may give solace to both devotees of data and hard-core storytellers, is also provided by the father and son team who edited the book: “In the past two decades, cognitive science has increasingly come to support the claim that we, as a species, think best when we allow numbers and narratives…to work together.”

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, © 2011)
If Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide or Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink is already on your bookshelf, Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow deserves a place as well. Like Lehrer and Gladwell, Kahneman—a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics—investigates how our minds work, and he arrives at a similar conclusion. When it comes to making decisions, Kahneman writes, we work quickly and intuitively, what he terms “System 1” thinking. As a result, our decisions are often impulsive and driven by emotions. Only later, when we have more time to reflect, do the more contemplative and objective faculties (“System 2”) get involved. In those moments, our brains create the rationale we use to convince ourselves that our decision was completely thought through. For anyone in the business of moving public opinion and changing behavior, Thinking, Fast and Slow is full of useful insights that can inform and improve the way you communicate.

Immunity to Change, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey (Harvard Business School Press © 2009)
Changing behavior is hard work, and finding precisely the right keys to unlock change has challenged dissatisfied spouses, disappointed parents, and disgruntled managers for ages. Some will say people can’t change, but Kegan and Lahey beg to differ, and they make a strong case in Immunity to Change. People can change, Kegan and Lahey contend, but first you (the aspiring agent of change) have to understand that they are heavily invested in the way things are. So invested, in fact, that their attachment to the status quo functions like an immune system warding off real change. Fortunately, there are ways around these defenses, and the co-authors outline specific steps for facilitating change in individuals and across entire organizations.


Teh Aquarium Vet logoSomething Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"

I am delighted to announce that The Aquarium Vet is about to release the first penguin module of the e-quarist course. While penguin-oriented, this module is suitable for all aquatic bird displays, and covers Taxonomy, Anatomy and Physiology, Penguin Display Design, Water Quality for Aquatic Birds, and Life Support Systems for Aquatic Birds. Over the next year or so, another two modules will follow to complete the penguin series.


E-quarist™ Courses—Academy Subscriber Special!

The San Diego Zoo Global Academy is excited to share an additional Academy subscriber benefit regarding our collaboration with The Aquarium Vet: as an Academy subscriber, you are now entitled to a discount on the e-quarist™ courses. We are also happy to offer one of our free monthly webinars.

For more information about the SDZGA discount, or anything about the e-quarist™ course, including next month's free webinar, please contact katrina@theaquariumvet.com.

Visit the Aquarium Vet website at theaquariumvet.com.au.

Helpful Hints

San Diego Zoo Global Academy's Idea Hatchery

The Academy's collaborative learning environment is already "hatching" innovative ideas: let's continue to make it easier to do. You get the idea—or, should we say, you've got the ideas—so, let's collaborate on innovation! Please share your online training ideas at: sdzglobalacademy@sandiegozoo.org.


Zoo & Conservation News

As an added Academy benefit, you can view the latest San Diego Zoo Global Zoo and Conservation News here.


Photo of a trainer with a cheetah.

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