1. 2016 Conference
  2. Keynote Speaker
  3. Hotel
  4. Papers
  5. Activities
  6. Schedule

NEW for 2016

Walter Crawford Memorial Conference Scholarship

Have you dreamed of attending our annual conference, but lack the funds to do so? If so, this new opportunity for 2016 might be the answer to your dreams! IAATE will award up to $5,000.00 to eligible IAATE members to assist in funding attendance of our annual conference. This scholarship fund is limited and will be awarded only to applicants who meet eligibility requirements. The recipient of this scholarship will be determined by the IAATE Professional Development Committee. Download the scholarship application form here. Deadline for application submission for our 2016 conference is October 1, 2015. Please send completed applications to Professional Development Committee Chair, email contact included on application form.

Note: Eligibility requirements recently changed. While you must be an IAATE member to apply, there is no minimum membership time requirement, however, preference will be given to applicants who have been a member for more than one year.

IAATE 2016 Conference Logo for web

Dates to Remember

October 1, 2015          Paper/Poster Abstracts Submission Deadline

October 1, 2015          Conference Scholarship Application Submission Deadline

December 1, 2015       Conservation and Education Grant Application Submission Deadline

January 1, 2016           Early Bird Registration Deadline

January 15, 2016         Photo Contest Submission Deadline

January 15, 2016         Behavior of the Year Awards Submission Deadline

January 15, 2016         Hotel Guaranteed Rate Reservation Deadline

January 15, 2016         All Mailed and Online Registrations Deadline



Our annual conference paper sessions and workshops are eligible for CEUs necessary for maintaining your certification.

Credits available are as follows:

IAATE Annual Conference – 8 CEUs
IAATE Annual Conference Workshop - A Comprehensive Course for Bird Trainers and Show Presenters - 8 CEUs
IAATE Annual Conference Workshop – Creating High Performance Teams – 2 CEUs
IAATE Annual Conference Workshop – Oscar Winning Enrichment – 3 CEUs
IAATE Annual Conference Workshop – Personal Passion and the Perfect Presentation – 2 CEUs

You will need to provide signed proof of attendance to IATCB to get these credits. Workshop leaders can sign the forms for any workshops you attend. Our Vice President can sign any general conference forms. So please bring forms with you to obtain necessary signatures! 


Our Keynote Speaker this year is Charles R. Preston Ph.D., Willis McDonald, IV Senior Curator of Natural Science And Founding Curator-in-Charge at the Draper Natural History Museum, Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. He will present a keynote address entitled: Face to Face with the Wild: The Power and Responsibility of using Live Birds in Public Education

Dr. Charles R. Preston is an ecologist, raptor biologist, and widely published authority on wildlife and human – wildlife relationships in Greater Yellowstone. He is the Willis McDonald, IV Senior Curator of Natural Science at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where he received international acclaim for leading the design and development of its Draper Natural History Museum. He continues to oversee the integrated suite of research, collections, public education (including the Draper Museum Raptor Experience) and exhibition activities of the Draper Museum, and is currently engaged in a long-term study of nesting ecology, diet, and habitat use of Golden Eagles in sagebrush-steppe. Previously, Preston was Chairman of Zoology, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and a tenured Associate Professor of Biology, University of Arkansas, Little Rock. He holds or has held adjunct faculty appointments at the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, Environmental, Population, and Organismal Biology at the University of Colorado, and Environmental Policy and Management, at the University of Denver. Early in his career, Preston led a Ford Foundation award-winning, state-wide education program using live raptors and other non-releasable wildlife in Arkansas.


Conference 1

The Big Horn Resort
1801 Majestic Lane, Billings, MT 59101

For more detailed information about our conference hotel visit their website

Our host hotel, The Big Horn Resort, is the perfect site for our Montana conference. The meeting space is well equipped for our presentations and the hotel’s amenities are sure to be enjoyed by all. The Big Horn Resort is Montana’s conference center and leisure family vacation destination. The Resort provides the highest quality, and the most comfortable and convenient accommodations of any hotel in Montana. The attached water park, The Reef, will give attendees a unique opportunity to enjoy the luxuries of an active water park during the cold Montana winter. You will also have the additional perks of:

  • Free breakfast
  • Free WiFi
  • Free airport transportation
  • Free weekday newspaper
  • Guest laundry facilities

If you are traveling by air, you will fly into the Billings International Airport. Our hotel provides a complimentary shuttle to the airport. You can call 1-406-839-9300 to book the shuttle. There is also a courtesy phone in the baggage claim area of the airport that you can use to call for the shuttle, just dial 8 to be connected directly to the hotel.

We have secured the discounted rates of $99.00 per room, this rate applies no matter the occupancy – single, double, triple, or quad. Please be sure to mention code “IAATE2016” when making your reservation. The hotel will be holding a block of rooms for us until Friday, January 15, 2016. The special rate and room availability are guaranteed for the dates of February 15-21, 2016. Check in time is 3:00 pm on the day of arrival. Check out time is 11:00 am on the day of departure. If early arrivals or late departures are necessary, please let the hotel know in advance and they will make every effort to accommodate.

To book your room, call 1-406-839-9300, and don’t forget to quote“IAATE2016.”

If you would like to make a reservation online, please go to the hotel website and follow these steps:

  • Scroll to the bottom of the home page and click on the Conventions Reservations tab.
  • Complete all fields on the form (Group Name is IAATE)
  • A representative from the hotel will contact you to confirm your reservation and billing details.


“Jess in Case”
Daniel Blair, CPBT-KA, CPBC, Natural Encounters, Inc.

An Overview of the State of Raptor Conservation Worldwide
Erin E. Katzner, CPBT-KA, The Peregrine Fund

From Rehab to “Red Widow” A Story of Strength and Determination
Genna Bickford & Josh Kuszmaul, Kansas City Zoo

Development of an Interactive Feed Using Exhibit Vultures
Grace Thornton and Gareth Morgan, African Lion Safari

Educating the Uninterested: How Shaping through Positive Reinforcement Changes Mindsets of Children
Kenny Coogan, Science Teacher, Orange Grove Middle Magnet School of the Arts

Running a Free Flight Bird Show with Limited Staff:  A Case Study
LeeAnn Goette-Purifoy CPBT-KA, Education Outreach Keeper and Hannah Baker CPBT-KA, Little Rock Zoo

Use of a Vest to Prevent Feather Destructive Behavior from Flock Mates
Lisa Land, Curator of Birds, Cougar Mountain Zoo

R+ -> r2 (Positive Reinforcement is For Raptors Too)
Matt Edmonds, Wonders of Nature

Empowerment Retrieval
Michael Billington, Interpretive Naturalist, The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

Managing the Message: The Evolution of Broken Bird Sob Stories to Empowering Ambassadors for Species Conservation
Natalie Childers, Programs Director and  Kate Olukalns, Senior Presenter & Trainer, Carolina Raptor Center

Training a European Barn Owl Tyto alba to Circuit in a Busy Show Setting
Nicky Plaskitt CPBT-KA, Head of Birds and Training, Paradise Wildlife Park, UK

Interpretation on Purpose, Not By Accident
Sarah Gilmore, Michigan Avian Experience

Improving Animal Welfare Through TrainingSteve Martin CPBT-KA, Natural Encounters, Inc.


Join us at 12:30-1:30 on Thursday February 18 for our Poster Viewing Lunch. Poster presenters will be available to answer quesions about their posters. IAATE is providing a deli lunch for all attendees.

From Force to Choice: Training an Albino Barred Owl
Abigail Krumrie, Raptor Education Group, Inc

Zoo Guests Carrion On About Vultures!
Jenyva Turner, Lead Animal Keeper- African Rift Valley, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Zuzu the Egg Thief: Color Recognition Study on a Crested Caracara
Joseph Parsons, Animal Keeper (Relief), Cape May County Park & Zoo

Maximize Movement and Comfort of Tethered raptors with Creative Perching Hardware Design
Kim Caldwell, Animal Training Supervisor, San Diego Zoo Safari Park Frequent Flyers Bird Show


Most conference activities (unless otherwise noted) are covered in the full-registration fee. However, it is possible to sign-up for any activity a-la-carte at the conference itself. Prices for activities if NOT registering for the full conference are noted below each activity. Please note: you cannot pre-register for activities individually; this has to be done at the conference. Only full-registration can be made in advance.

Full-Day Training Workshop, February 17

Please note: This workshop is NOT covered in the cost of registration. Reservations will be made on a first come, first serve basis. Space permitting, payment reserves your space. Note guides and certificates of completion will be provided for all attendees. This course is an outstanding preparation for the IATCB certification exam.
Note: For CPBT-KA - 8 CEU’s are available for attendance at this workshop.

A Comprehensive Course for Bird Trainers and Show Presenters

This workshop, presented by Steve Martin CPBT-KA, Past President of IAATE, is designed for all levels of training experience and includes the most contemporary information on the technology and scientific principals associated with training birds and other animals. Also included is empowering information on producing and presenting affective educational programs. Attendees may submit videos of their shows for evaluation during the workshop. The full-day course includes the following and more:

 Operant Learning Principles
    Understanding Reinforcement and Punishment
    Effective reinforcement strategies
    Schedules, rates, and value of reinforcement
    Alternatives to punishment

Clear, Honest, Communication 
    Prompts, cues, and bridging stimuli
    Problems with baiting
    Effective bridging strategies

    Antecedent strategies to increase motivation
    Choice and control – empowering animals to maximize motivation
    LRS and behavioral momentum
    Weight and food management

Building Trusting Relationships With Animals

Creating High Performing Teams

Show Production and Presentation

    Message delivery
    Show structure
    Ethics – animal welfare, mixed messages
    Dealing with mistakes
    Species selection

Cost: $50
This workshop runs 8am - 5pm on Wednesday, February 17
Limited to 100 participants.

Pre-Conference Trip, February 17

Please note: The pre-conference trip is NOT covered in the cost of registration. See below for details of cost and maximum participant information. The trip includes transportation and provided lunch.

Additional note - the pre-conference trip and the full-day workshop run concurrently - you cannot attend both.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Last year's IAATE High Flyer Award winners, Brandon Lewis and Melissa Hill will be our hosts for this fun pre-conference trip! You might not expect it in the small town of Cody, Wyoming, but the Buffalo Bill Center of the West houses five world-class museums and a research library—all under one roof. They are dedicated to the American West...its history, art, Native American heritage, the natural science of the Yellowstone region, and the development and importance of firearms to the West.  Attendees will find the following at this 7 acre complex:  Buffalo Bill Museum: Witness the spectacle he created and explore the West he loved; Cody Firearms Museum: Discover how firearms shaped the history of the American West; Draper Natural History Museum: Marvel at the power and beauty of the Yellowstone region as well as a live raptor talk; Whitney Western Art Museum: Picture the West through the eyes of its most famous artists; Plains Indian Museum: Experience the lives and legends of the Plains Indian people.; McCracken Research Library: Dig deeper into our collections of stories, photos, and documents.  The Center is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a favorite museum for groups, and a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner two-years running with top ratings from the vast majority of reviewers. This promises to be a pre-conference trip to remember.

Cost: $35
Limited to 25 participants.
The pre-conference trip will depart at 8:30am with return to hotel at 5pm.

Workshops, February 19

Reservations will be made on a first come, first serve basis. Space permitting, payment reserves your space. Workshops are NOT covered in the full-registration fee. IATCB CEU’s are also available for certified trainers.

This conference will offer three different workshops. All three workshops will be offered twice on Friday, in the AM and again in the PM at the hotel, requiring a choice between them.

Creating High Performance Teams: Have you ever wondered why you can’t seem to get ahead at your job? Have you ever blamed someone else for your inability to move ahead? Do you wish you had more trustful relationships with people in your life, or had more motivation or better communication skills to help you succeed at your job? These questions and many others will be discussed in this two hour workshop designed to help you gain insights into team behavior and empowering strategies for achieving your goals. Facilitated by IAATE Past-President, Steve Martin CPBT-KA.
Limited to 30 participants.

Oscar Winning Enrichment With You As The Best Supporting Actor: Are you tasked at work with doing “meet the trainer talks” or “guest meet and greets”? Do you sometimes struggle for ideas for these sessions? Then this is the workshop for you! Lights, camera, action…watch the lights come on as your animal performs a naturalistic behavior centered on skillfully crafted enrichment and the audience makes a connection. Watch the cameras come out to capture the memory forever. Lead guests to conservation action through caring about our natural world. This workshop focuses on key steps to enrich your animals and guests. Attend this workshop and build your skills to reach the stars as a presenter.

  • Learn the art of research
  • Develop well thought out enrichment
  • Create training strategies based on natural history
  • Design guest interactions showcasing your animals
  • Polish your presentation skills to rocket yourself and your animal to stardom

This three hour workshop will be facilitated by IAATE President, Robin Shewokis and IAATE Board member, Dave Miller.
Limited to 30 participants.

Personal Passion and the Perfect Presentation: Making the Most Out of Every Interaction: Exhibit talks, animal encounters, and stage shows are some of the primary tools that many facilities use to help connect guests with the animals that we care for. But what information are we sharing in these interactions, and how are we presenting it? In this workshop, we will explore some concepts that can help us to take full advantage of every opportunity to take these interactions to the next level:

  • Moving beyond "Sharing = Caring"
  • To Script or Not to Script: Interactions "In the Now"
  • Strategies for Training Visitors
  • What does "The Perfect Presenter" look like?
This two hour workshop will be facilitated by Chris Jenkins, CPBT-KA, Director of Interpretive Programs, Natural Encounters, Inc.

Cost: $10 each 

Open Board Meeting, February 19

Our Open Board Meeting will be held on Friday February 19 at the hotel. Join your organization's Board to hear committee reports, financial updates, and general information about the business year in review as well as upcoming endeavors. This is your opportunity to stay updated on the business of your organization and ask any questions you many want answering. IAATE is providing a pizza party lunch at this year's Open Board Meeting and we hope to see a full attending member turn out! 


This year’s hospitality suite is a large room, perfect for mingling. The hospitality suite presents great opportunities to share information and unwind after a long day of intense learning experiences. This is one of the best ways to share ideas and become inspired by your peers. Thanks to our generous sponsors, the 2016 hospitality suite will be fully stocked with beverages and snacks. 

Icebreaker, February 17

Covered in the cost of full-registration fee.

There’s no hiding the fact that this year’s conference is taking place in Montana, in the winter.  So to get your mind off of the cold, blowing snow, we decided to do an ice breaker like no other.  We’re having a pool party.  Yup, you heard that right, we’re having a pool party in Montana……in the winter!  Join us as we take over the Big Horn resort’s “Reef” for one of the most epic pool parties to date.  The place is ours, conference attendees only!  Alcohol will be served along with appetizers and a whole lot of fun! Embarrassed to show off that bright, winter body?  Don’t worry, t-shirts are allowed and welcome! Don’t be shy, come and have a great time on the waterslides, wave pool and play structure. If you’re not into letting that inner child out, then take a nice soak in the large hot tub.  Now that’s a sure fire way to warm up!

Cost if not registered for full conference: Member/Student: $55; Non-member: $60 

Night Out, February 18

Please note: The night out is NOT covered in the cost of registration. See below for details of cost and maximum participant information. The trip includes transportation.

Hop aboard Billing’s own trolley for a local brewery crawl.  Billings, Montana’s Trailhead, has the only self–guided, walkable brewery tour in Montana. This unoffi­cial “brewery district” is located downtown and includes six breweries and two distilleries, all within easy walking distance. Take this 1.5-mile brewery route and enjoy some historic points along the way or let the trolley do the work for you!

The tour will visit four brewerys:

Trailhead Spirits (2314 Montana Ave)
UberBrew ( 2305 Montana Ave)
MT Brewing Company (113 N Broadway)
At each stop, you will be treated to one complimentary drink as well as light appetizers to go along with it. Food and beverage courtesy of Visit Billings, our generous sponsors for this fun night out! Let loose, enjoy some locally crafted beers and take part in some bird talk.

Cost: $35
Limited to 35 participants.

Zoo Day, February 19

Covered in the cost of full-registration fee.

Zoo day promises to be an experience unlike any conference before. During this day, learn firsthand from Zoo staff how they pulled ZooMontana from the ashes to breathe another day. As one of the youngest Zoo’s in the country, ZooMontana has had its struggles and was bankrupt 4 years ago. After careful planning and a lot of passion, Zoo staff has regained the community’s respect and now operates in the black while setting their sights on the future.  See what a Zoo looks like in the building and planning phase. Currently, ZooMontana is a zoological/botanical garden and educational facility dedicated to the conservation of wildlife throughout Montana and the 45th parallel of earth. ZooMontana cares for over 100 animals of 56 different species, including wolves, grizzly bear, otter, eagles, and lynx. Located in the picturesque tourist destination of Billings, MT, ZooMontana offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about Yellowstone ecosystem fauna through direct observation, interpretive displays, and experiential educational programs. Annually, community and educational programs serve over 10,000 students and over 100,000 visitors, most of whom hail from the northern Rockies.  Led by a 16 member staff, ZooMontana enjoys strong community support through volunteerism, donations, and outreach.  Be sure to bring your jacket as most of our exhibits are outside!  However, the winters provide active animals!!

Cost if not registered for full conference: Member/Student: $25; Non-member: $30 

Banquet, February 20

Covered in the cost of full-registration fee.

The 2016 conference will wrap up in grand style at this years banquet. The banquet is a great time to recognize our fellow professionals and we do that with the annual awards ceremony. Also included at the banquet is our Photo Contest slide show and winners announcement. And get ready to find out where we are headed in 2017, as next year’s host delivers their fun announcement! Our banquet features a full dinner and a cash bar. Great food and great times are assured.

Cost if not registered for full conference: Member/Student: $75; Non-member: $80 


Help support IAATE! You will be able to purchase tickets for raffle drawings held throughout the conference. We will once again have our Conservation Raffle during the banquet. If you would like to donate items, please bring them to the conference or mail them ahead of time.

If you are shipping packages, please ship to:

2100 S. Shiloh Road
Billings, MT 59106

Please mark any pre-shipped raffle donations as “IAATE 2016 RAFFLE DONATION” so we know what it is. Thanks! 

Conference Awards, Grants, and Contests

Don't forget to apply for an award, such as Behavior of the Year, and many others, or a Conservation or Education Grant. Deadlines for grant and award submissions vary. Please see below for deadlines. For the 2016 conference, awards and grant submissions will not be accepted at the conference. This is to allow the committees more time to consider each entry as well as edit video for the banquet awards presentation. Please adhere to the individual deadline! Please see our Awards & Grants section to download application forms and for updated details on how to apply. You can't win if you don't enter!

Conservation Grant Submission Deadline: December 1, 2015

Education Grant Submission Deadline: December 1, 2015  

Behavior Awards Submission Deadline: January 15, 2016

Photo Contest Submission Deadline: January 15, 2016

Enrichment Award Submission Deadline: Ongoing as part of the monthly challenge on Facebook. Please contact Enrichment Committee Chair, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., if you have any questions.


For a printable PDF of the detailed conference schedule breakdown, click HERE.





Mon, Feb 15

Annual Board Meeting

8:00am - 5:00pm

Tue, Feb 16

Annual Board Meeting

8:00am - 5:00pm

Wed, Feb 17    

Full Day Training Workshop

Pre-conference Trip


8:00am - 5:00pm

8:30am - 5:00pm

6:00pm - 10:00pm

Thurs, Feb 18


Poster Presentations with lunch

Night Out

8:30am - 5:00pm

12:30pm - 1:30pm

6:00pm - 9:30pm

Fri, Feb 19


Open Board Meeting

Zoo Day at Zoo Montana 


8:00am - 11:00am

11:30am - 12:30pm

1:00pm - 4:30pm

6:30pm - 9:30pm

Sat, Feb 20




8:30am - 2:00pm

2:30pm - 4:30pm

6:30pm - 10:00pm


Please feel free to contact us using the contact form. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.



The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators

is an organization for individuals who are active in the field of avian training and who are involved in environmental education programs.

IAATE was founded to foster communication, professionalism and cooperation among those individuals who serve Avian Science through training, public display, research, husbandry, conservation, and education.



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