January 6, 2021

A 2020 DPC Report Card: How Did We Do?

Happy New Year! As the AZA community prepares for next week’s virtual Directors’ Policy Conference, we’re revisiting key takeaways from last year’s conference to see where we’ve been able to make progress, which were unattainable due to the pandemic, and which are still works in progress and need to continue to be addressed and prioritized. Last year’s takeaways, which are expanded upon by clicking here to visit the “Supporting Our ‘For Purpose’ Conservation Missions: DPC Takeaways” blog post, are highlighted below, with actionable next steps and resources included for your reference.

1. “There’s a disconnect between mission and how we act on it.”

Has your organization taken action to confirm that your mission statement is linked to your conservation impact/outcomes and integrated into your culture? Are you really living your mission statement? As we begin a new year, now’s a perfect time to review your purpose, your reason for being, and your why. Click here to read “Are We Really Living Up to Our Missions?”

2. “Conservation is a people problem.”

We know that conservation is not only about animals, but also about motivating people. But how can we do better? How do we maintain one of our core missions of conservation during this time of crisis? Click here to read “’Conservation Isn’t Closed’ Conversation Takeaways” and “Conservation Still Isn’t Closed: Time is Not on Our Side.” We look forward to hearing AZA’s progress with the SAFE program next week.

3. “Become advocates for social change.”

In no time but 2020 was it more important for zoos and aquariums to speak up and be heard to receive a portion of the stimulus package to aid in supporting their organizations. Thankfully governmental assistance was provided, and Zoo Advisors was able to assist with resources and tools. In this age of uncertainty, the need to communicate your organization’s worth to your community has become even more apparent. Click here to read “Channel Your Inner Peacock: Communicating Your Worth.” Also, an economic impact study is a vitally important tool in your arsenal when talking with your public officials, foundations, and donors. Click here to read “Proving Your Worth: Learning from Akron Zoo’s Big Public Funding Win.”

4. “Thinking differently about our ‘critics’.”

While there were many, many things we were unable to control in 2020, AZA continued its work focused on wildlife trafficking, dedicating two National Conference sessions to the topic, where we were guided to accept wildlife trade, be accountable to our Earth, and try a new approach to effect change. Click here to read “The Importance of Maintaining Our Commitment to Conservation.”

5. “How do we handle sustainable populations?”

Once the pandemic hit, organizations got creative in meeting this goal, sharing real-life case studies of success that emphasized, once again, that even in a time of crisis, conservation remains a core mission of zoos and aquariums. Click here to read “Is Conservation Now an Afterthought?”

6. “Diversity comes when you practice equity and inclusion.”

This topic was really brought to the forefront of our lives mid-year and the momentum is still going strong. Thankfully change is starting to occur through more communications and work to generate awareness, from grassroots to governmental calls to action, and through organizational change, both large and small. We’ve tackled this issue with you, our community, and will work to make even more progress in 2021. Click here to read “Fighting for Social Equity: The Role of Zoos & Aquariums,” “The Path Toward More Just & Equitable Communities”, and “Social Equity: An Action Plan for Change.”

We’ll report on next week’s discussions and will continue our commitment throughout 2021 to provide guidance, resources, experts, and actionable steps on these most pressing industry topics to further your missions and organizations.

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