Collaborating for conservation: looking towards 2016

FLAq-girls

Kids creating action with Florida Aquarium

Thank you to our partner organizations for your leadership in advancing conservation. Collectively, the zoo, aquarium, and museum community has been making great strides and we will continue to support you and the community to increase your impact for conservation in 2016 and beyond. Together, we are making a difference!

We’d like to extend a special thanks to our supporting partners – also listed as supporters on the World Oceans Day website. For 2016, we would like to ask all our partners to consider supporting us at a level that you feel is appropriate. Every contribution – from $10 to $10,000 or more – really does help, as we’re a lean organization with about 2.5 FTEs and a team of passionate undergraduate and graduate interns, and very little in overhead expenses. We put every dollar to work in achieving a high conservation ROI. Thank you for your support and please contact us if you would like to contribute to help us help the community do more in 2016.

Advancing conservation action

Since The Ocean Project was launched about 18 years ago, we have remained steadfastly focused on strategically and collaboratively supporting zoos and aquariums to become leaders for conservation. Aquariums and zoos are increasingly moving away from a focus solely on raising awareness of the problems and towards engaging visitors in the solutions, and we look forward to continuing to help you bring about a better future through effective education, marketing, and outreach with your visitors and the public.

Here are a few ways we supported our network of partners with strategic resources and tools in 2015:

Provided cutting edge market and communications research to continue to build a stronger foundation of data for aquariums and zoos so you can achieve your mission. Last year we produced a summary report of all Ocean Project research over the years, including fresh data. If you’d like, we have copies of this report in bulk, for your staff, docents, and/or board members.

Helped aquariums and zoos engage visitors with solutions to climate and ocean issues through our Innovative Solutions Grants+ Program. With NOAA funding, over the last three years we have provided grants totaling nearly $300,000 to more than a dozen aquariums and zoos. Grants+ means awardees also receive pro bono strategic communications coaching throughout the grant period and technical expertise to catalyze peer-to-peer sharing and learning. The lessons learned are benefiting the community as a whole and we continue to regularly get out findings from all grantees through our blog and social media channels.

Coordinated World Oceans Day as a unique opportunity for zoos and aquariums to connect with visitors, the media, and more. With official UN recognition, this global event continues to grow quickly. When we started in 2002 there were zero events in the US; last year there were hundreds, and the social media buzz doubled each of the last two years. We produced a WOD 2015 summary report if you’re interested in learning more.

Brokered strategic conservation connections among aquariums, zoos, and the 2,000+ partner organizations involved in our growing network. Your involvement has helped this global network grow into the largest ever created to protect and conserve our ocean.

Looking forward to 2016

Based on feedback from our partners and other key leaders, we continue to evolve our efforts to help you. In the coming year, we plan to work with our partners to accelerate individual and societal actions on the specific issues of plastic pollution, marine protected areas, ocean acidification, and threatened/endangered species in the following ways:

Young leaders via Woodland Park Zoo

Young leaders via Woodland Park Zoo

  • Conduct, analyze, and disseminate research on public opinion and visitor engagement
  • Spark and support innovative and experimental visitor engagement projects with leading zoos and aquariums, and share widely with the community
  • Develop collaborative visitor engagement initiatives that can be implemented across our growing network of visitor-serving organizations, and
  • Explore opportunities to inform public policy and corporate norms

More specifically, we will:

  • Help the community grow, through our NOAA-funded Innovative Solutions Grants+ Program, with strategic communications and technical support
  • Grow the reach and impact of World Oceans Day 2016 – including new educational and marketing resources and tools, partnership opportunities and ways to take action on plastic ocean pollution
  • Launch a marine protected areas initiative to help aquariums and zoos engage visitors to protect special coastal and ocean areas
  • Partner with the AZA-SAFE campaigns focusing on shark and sea turtle conservation
  • And much more, promoting aquariums and zoos as the key anchors for conservation leadership in your community

If you have any suggestions for how we can best support you please contact us. Please also consider supporting us for 2016. As a reminder, we have several levels available for being a supporting partner…and every contribution really does help!

Happy holiday to all and see you in the New Year!

Posted in Blog Posts, The Ocean Project.

Bill Mott

Bill thrives on building coalitions and making connections to promote more collaborative, strategic, and effective ways to bring about a better future. He also thrives on pizza and chocolate.

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