IAATE History

In the Beginning

Today when you talk to bird trainers they will absolutely tell you that they are members of an amazing profession, but until 1993 there was no professional organization specifically for avian trainers. A formal network was needed to share the incredible techniques and ideas being worked on by individuals in the avian community. Gary Denzler and Steve Hoddy, pioneers in the field of avian training, were discussing a gathering for bird trainers. They contacted Steve Martin who took their idea to the next level. In early 1993, a dedicated group of twenty-seven avian trainers and educators from the US and Canada met in Minnesota to discuss the possibility of forming an organization to address their passion. From this meeting, IAATE was created.
IAATE through the Years

1993 Initial meeting

1993 Bylaws established/Name created/First Board appointed

1994 First Flyer produced

1995 Logo developed

1998 Conservation Fund established

1999 Website – www.iaate.org – created

2004 First international conference

2006 First color Flyer produced

2008 First Position Statement created

2008 First European conference

2009 Code of Ethics created

2010 Brochure translated into foreign languages

Many individuals have generously donated their time to IAATE by serving on the organization’s Board of Directors over the past two decades. These dedicated professionals helped shape our organization into what it is today.

Steve Martin
Walter Crawford
Joanna Eckles
Kevin Hils
John Frawley
Mike Scarpuzzi
Jeff Ignaut

Dan Pearson
Marty Sevinich McPhee
Kim Caldwell
Barbara Heidenreich
Dave Siddon
Carole Precious
Kate Friedman

Ryan Knight
John Hendrickson
Tom Smylie
Melissa Horton
Jeffrey Meshach
Daniel Abram
Arianna Bailey

Matt Edmonds
Cassie Malina
Helen Dishaw
Sid Price
Eddie Annal
Dave Cruz
Jeff Ewelt

Phung Luu
Melinda Mendolusky
Jim Nemet
Karen Povey
Amy Robinson
Miguel Santos
Catherine Vine

Robin Shewokis
Sean Greene
Diane Visty
Dave Miller
Kit Lacy
Ryan VanZant
Erin Katzner

Since its inception IAATE has facilitated the exchange of information through a four-day conference held annually in February. The conference has grown to be one of the most important structured gatherings available to animal trainers with a special interest in avian species. Conferences have been held annually since 1993, hosted by facilities in the US, Canada, and Europe. Each conference offers unique experiences including field trips to local venues, international guest speakers, member presentations and opportunities to learn how others are tackling the challenges faced in this profession. IAATE Conferences are one of the best ways to meet and network with other professionals in the avian field; their value is immeasurable.

Paper presentations have explored such topics as medical issues, training strategies, program development, conservation education, theater skills, management and husbandry methods for different avian species, training staff and volunteers, fly off protocols, conservation efforts, behavioral enrichment, fundraising, and more.

Previous Keynote Speakers have included such respected individuals as Dr. Charles Munn (Parrot conservationist), Jim Fowler (Fowler Center for Wildlife Education), Mike Reynolds (The World Parrot Trust), Brian Jones (Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center), Morley Nelson (Nature videographer, and conservationist), Dr Brian Speer, DVM, Dr. Robert Hess, DVM, Dr. Pat Reddig, DVM (avian veterinarian), Lee Durrell, Joel Sartore (National Geographic photographer), as well as local presenters, and the very knowledgeable IAATE membership.

Workshops have offered excellent hands on opportunities to learn about theater/presentation skills, team building/leadership skills, behavioral enrichment, preparing equipment to manage raptor species, biofacts, avian necropsy and more.

In general, the conference is a collaboration between the host staff and IAATE. The Host Conference Committee is usually comprised of IAATE members that work at the host facility. The Core Conference Committee is available for support, under the leadership of the IAATE Vice President who is ultimately responsible for facilitating the entire process.

The annual IAATE conference is a wonderful opportunity for avian enthusiasts to share their knowledge, expand their expertise, and gain a great network of resources to ultimately benefit birds and the natural world. Coordinating our annual conference is a huge amount of work. Thank you to all of our hosts over the years for all their hard work. Special thank you to IAATE’s past and current Vice Presidents, Barbara Heidenreich, Cassie Malina, and Helen Dishaw for their tireless work and dedication in planning and facilitating our organization’s annual conferences.

1993 Minneapolis, MN

1994 San Diego, CA

1995 Orlando, FL

1996 St Louis, MO

1997 Concord, CA

1998 Minneapolis, MN

1999 Sitka, AK

2000 Memphis, TN

2001 Orlando, FL

2002 Denver, CO

2003 Portland, OR

2004 Toronto, ON Canada

2005 Atlanta, GA

2006 Nashville, TN

2007 Tacoma, WA

2008 Alphen aan den Rijn, The Netherlands

2009 Cincinnati, OH

2010 Albuquerque, NM

2011 Pittsburg, OH

2012 Bloomington, MN

2013 Tampa, FL

2014 Dallas, TX

2015 Charlotte, NC

2016 Billings, MT

2017 Atlanta, GA

2018 Redding, CA

2019 Orlando, FL

2020 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

2021 Virtual Conference
The Flyer

The first official IAATE newsletter was produced by editor Melissa Caughey in the fall of 1994. Appropriately named the Flyer, this newsletter has soared past its humble black and white beginnings to the full-color, twenty page publication IAATE members enjoy today.

Joanna (Watson) Eckles took over as editor of the Flyer after the first issue, and served in that position until the fall of 1996.

Melissa Horton stepped in as editor following Joanna, and in 2006 brought the Flyer to a new level with the start of full-color issues.

Becky Svalsted picked up the job in 2006.

Cathi Wright assumed the role of editor in 2007, and upgraded the publication further by bringing in a professional designer and switching to a glossy magazine format.

Helen Dishaw picked up the reins in the fall of 2009, adding recurring columns and increasing the page-count to the 24-page publication we know today. Helen remains the current editor of the Flyer.

IAATE sincerely appreciates all the editors who have contributed their time and creative genius over the years to bring the Flyer to the level that it is today, and also the many individuals who have contributed articles, photos, and content to assist in furthering IAATE’s mission.
IAATE Online

Moving into the 21st Century…

The IAATE website, created by Dave Siddon and Joe Peacock, was launched in the spring of 1999. In 2002, the Board approved a contract with Christy Kiltz of Design by Kiltz to develop and host a new site. The new site went online in May 2002 and has been hosted by Design by Kiltz since then.

Until early 2004 Christy also provided maintenance on the site. It was in 2004 that Sid Price joined with Christy to provide maintenance and updates. Working with Christy during 2007 Sid designed the Resource Center to provide an article and information archive for the membership. Karen Povey, Education Chair at that time, worked closely with Sid to collect, upload, and catalog the articles for the Resource Center.

In 2009, the IAATE Board once again contracted Design by Kiltz to design a new web site. This third generation web site is built upon a Content Management System (CMS) that makes it easier for committee chairs and other authorized IAATE members to add, edit, and maintain specific areas of the site. The CMS also provides IAATE with email list management, enabling group emails to be sent to members. Perhaps the biggest innovation with this new site was the provision of an online membership system that automatically sends out renewal notices and provides the IAATE secretary with membership management features.

Through its many incarnations, the website has remained valuable for communicating information to the membership, facilitating discussions among members, and hosting a wealth of reliable information on avian husbandry, training, and education.

IAATE is grateful for the individuals who have contributed their time and expertise to the design and maintenance of our web site through the years.