This week we held our quarterly Town Hall meeting for all staff and volunteers. During this meeting I reported on the first quarter financial results, which are very strong. I restated our goal of building endowment funds during 2018.
Financial results are driven by many factors, none more important than overall team performance in mission and mission support areas. Over the past three months we have completed a significant overhaul of the Foxwoods Marine Theater pool, including moving the sea lions to another facility, bringing them back to Mystic Aquarium and retraining them.
We installed and opened a major new exhibit, Jurassic Giants: A Dinosaur Adventure, began construction of the Milne building, construction of a new Long Island Sound exhibit, and renovation of the Arctic Coast habitat. We introduced several new education programs, including summer camps at Springfield College, a new school-based overnight program, and a new pre-collegiate experience in collaboration with the University of Connecticut, to name a few innovations.
At the meeting, I shared the following story sent to me, and then to The Day newspapers by Dianne Kent who is an executive with Peoples Bank.
Kindness in Real Life: Lost teddy goes on a dinosaur-sized adventure
Published May 07, 2018, The Day.com
Dianne Kent, Special to The Times
The dinosaur exhibit at the Mystic Aquarium was wonderful, and my son Koa and 6 year-old grandson Maximo had a wonderful time learning about all of the sea animal (sic). They headed home exhausted, only to discover Max’s bear Mishka had not made it to the car with them.
They didn’t have a lot of hope, but Koa reached out to the aquarium on April 16 to inquire about Mishka. Nothing yet, they said, but they would keep looking.
As Koa scanned the Internet to find another bear for Max, who lives in Oakdale and Norwich, he received a text with a photo: “Is this your brown bear?”
Koa was so thrilled he ran over right after work to retrieve Mishka. It was close to closing and he felt badly to keep them, but they asked if he had a minute.
Not only was he handed Mishka, he also received a tote bag of souvenirs and a dear picture book of “The brown bear’s visit to Mystic Aquarium,” created by the staff. Mishka was perched on the dinosaur, waving to spider crabs, visiting Hingy the clam, and so on.
It was so dear to have Maximo see all that his brown bear did while he was away.
Thank you to an amazing group of ladies: Ellen Maguire, front desk goddess and sender of the bear photo; Melanie Evans, director of guest services; Ashley Tougas, guest services captain, and Mary Ellen Mateleska, director of education and public conservation programs.
You all made a little boy and his dad so happy!
The story above was a wonderful way to lead into recognizing the longevity of service for some of our staff. Of particular note, Max Onorato was recognized for 20 years of service. Amy DelMonaco, Jacinta Simoncini and Joe Natusch were honored for 25 years of service. These individuals have not only been with the organization for an extended period, they also continue to exemplify the highest values of the organization, always contributing to an ever changing organization. Congratulations and thanks to each of them.
Honorable Terry Garcia Op Ed in USA Today
Trustee Terry Garcia is an international leader in ocean conservation. He served in several key roles in the United States Department of Commerce, including Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and Deputy Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For many years he was the Chief Science and Exploration Officer at National Geographic Society. He was appointed to the Clinton administration to lead the implementation plan for disaster recovery after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and by President Obama to the National Commission investigating the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Recently, he penned an Op Ed which appeared in USA Today expressing his views on President Trump’s oil drilling and related safety regulation policies:
The Perils of Plastic and our Oceans
Mystic Aquarium has joined with other aquariums throughout the United States to bring global focus to the importance of reducing disposable plastics which have littered our global oceans and wreaked havoc on sea life.
Last week the following story appeared in National Geographic concerning the Marina Trench in the Pacific Ocean. This remote area, one of the deepest and darkest known parts of the planet, was found to be littered with plastics:
Mystic Aquarium is committed to working on public engagement and solutions towards reducing plastic waste, including a partnership with Coca-Cola, coastal zone clean-ups, reduced use of plastic bottles on our campus, and public policy advocacy. If you have other ideas on how we might collectively work to address this serious issue, please let me know.
See you all soon!