This past week, I was honored to be at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Directors’ Policy Conference in Corpus Christi, Texas. The conference was hosted by Texas State Aquarium, which is completing a $50 million expansion that will add 65,000 square feet of new exhibit space.
The new addition is set to open in May. It will be quite beautiful and I want to congratulate my friend, President and CEO Tom Schmid. He is celebrating 20 years at this role and is much beloved and a key leader in the Corpus Christi metropolitan area.
Prior to the opening of the conference I attended a graduation ceremony for Vice President of Biological Programs, Dr. Allison Tuttle. Dr. Tuttle completed the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Executive Leadership Development Program, a year-long commitment.
The program, first envisioned by former President and CEO of Shedd Aquarium, Ted Beattie, is a one year rigorous curriculum covering management, finance, human resources, personal development, and many other topics. Congratulations to Allison on this wonderful accomplishment, and special thanks to her mentor for the program, President and CEO of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Lynn Clements, who was very generous with her time. Like Tom Schmid, Lynn gives an enormous amount of her time to AZA and to the Virginia Beach area.
Our Senior Vice President for Zoological Operations and Business Development, Larry Rivarde, was also in attendance. He has generously agreed to serve as a mentor to the newly minted Executive Leadership Development Program class.
Last week I wrote about the State of Connecticut’s tourism effort and the importance of continued investment in marketing our state. Equally important is to assure a strong regional focus on tourism in eastern Connecticut.
I am pleased to report that Senior Vice President for External Relations, Andy Wood, has been named Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut Tourism Marketing Committee.
This new committee replaces the former Greater Mystic Visitors Bureau and will have four areas of focus: Programs and Special Events, Branding, Communications, and Advocacy. The new Committee seeks to further develop the region’s strengths in tourism by:
• Serving as the region’s tourism partner with the Connecticut Office of Tourism (COT) and the state’s tourism website: www.CTVisit.com
• Working in partnership with state wide tourism groups, associations, and vendors to serve as an advocate for tourism
• Convening tourism and communications professionals to help define and shape the strategic direction of our region’s brand
• Providing staff support to the local tourism industry businesses
• Assisting with social media outreach
• Coordinating the development of cross-promotional tourism packages
• Updating and promoting a robust regional calendar for both residents and tourists
• Serving as the fulfillment center for destination magazines and other promotional materials
• Facilitating partnership advertising opportunities
• Promoting partnership with other tourism entities in the region and applicable tourism-related conferences and workshops
Andy also serves as Vice Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Marketing Committee.
Earlier this week, our Animal Rescue Team admitted the first patient of 2017 to our rehabilitation clinic. The male grey seal pup, 3-4 weeks old, stranded near Fishers’ Island. The pup has some deep, infected wounds, but we anticipate a full recovery and release back to the wild.
We keep tabs on our patients. Many of you remember the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, Resolution, who was in our clinic for most of 2016. Resolution was moved to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center late last year for continued rehabilitation of some infections, and to prepare for return to the wild. We expect that Resolution will be released in Florida waters within the next 3-4 weeks.
See you all soon!