Amy Fennell, Supervisor of Training, Natural Encounters, Inc. Florida, USA
Amy began working professionally with animals in 1999 at a companion animal hospital before getting her start with both birds of prey and environmental education at the University of Guelph’s Wild Bird Clinic and continued her work at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre, focusing on environmental education with non-releasable native birds of prey. As Raptor Centre Lead, she additionally acted as a Program Director for the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Program, as well as managing and training a variety of wildlife, including insectivorous bats, reptiles, and amphibians. She joined Natural Encounters, Inc. in 2014 and has worked on mixed species free-flight projects in Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Arizona, and Florida. Amy is a certified professional bird trainer (CPBT-KA), the Chair of the IAATE Professional Development Committee, and is about to start her second term as a general board member. She is always looking forward to the next great avian adventure!
Nicky Plaskitt, Owner, Shaping Behavior, UK
In the 20 years I have spent working in UK zoos and aquaria, I have worked with a plethora of animals using positive reinforcement training to develop behaviors for husbandry, veterinary care and public presentation. I now specialize in teaching keepers the skills they need to work with their animals in the best way possible. From 2012 – 2021 I ran the Bird team at Paradise Wildlife Park (UK), revolutionizing the management of birds on section. I have worked for ZSL London and Whipsnade zoos and other prominent UK collections. I was lucky to work with NEI at the State Fair of Texas in 2011 and 2013, and have worked in Africa and the Middle East for short stints also. In June 2021 I set up my own business. Shaping Behaviour is a consultancy with the goal of improving animal welfare in all collections by teaching keepers the skills they need to use R+ with their animals and staff. This is done through zoo consults and workshops for keepers. My goal is to inspire keepers to make better future decisions and to empower them with the knowledge to do so.
Sidney Campbell, Senior Trainer and Educator, Cascades Raptor Center, Eugene, Oregon, USA
Sidney Campbell grew up in southern California, developing a deep respect for wildlife conservation and animal ambassadors, watching her uncle work with elephants at the San Diego Zoo. She found her passion for raptors as an intern at the American Bald Eagle Foundation (ABEF) while earning her Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Alaska Southeast. A certified professional bird trainer, Sidney is passionate about working animal welfare. As staff at the ABEF, Campbell led a complete aviary redesign and construction project, expanding animal programming opportunities and enhancing visitor accessibility and education. Today, Sidney is Senior Trainer and Educator at the Cascades Raptor Center where she continues to share her passion for raptors with the public. She is a general member on the board of the International Association of Avian Trainers an Educators (IAATE) and contributes to the Professional Development Committee as a mentor to other bird trainers. She has presented several workshops and papers on the subject of workplace culture and its impact on welfare. Outside of work, Sidney enjoys birding and exploring the outdoors with her dog, Eider or curling up with a good book and her cat, affectionately known as Cat Cat.
Kit Lacy, Bird Curator, Cascades Raptor Center, Eugene, Oregon, USA
Kit completed a master’s degree in biology from the University of Oregon, on social behavior and communication in Caribbean Iguanas. After a major career shift, she now oversees the ambassador animal collection and general operations at Cascades. Kit is passionate about improving the quality of life for all raptors in human care through thoughtful initial selection and positive reinforcement training. She has been a board member of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE) since 2013. She has presented papers on training, lead workshops and webinars, acts as a mentor to other trainers, and presented on the Cascades’ criteria for selection of non-releasable raptors of ambassadors for many organizations.
Lacey Zeno, Lead Wildlife Care Specialist, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, California, USA
I have worked in the animal industry since my first job mopping floors in a vet hospital in high school. I worked with doggy daycares and veterinary hospitals through college until I went to Moorpark College’s exotic animal training and management program. I’ve been working alongside exotic animals ever since. I saw a video while at school of Steve Martin doing the State Fair of Texas show and I was hooked on birds. If you can train a free flight bird, you can train anything 🙂 I started working for Natural Encounters, Inc. out of Moorpark. From there I started working at San Diego Zoo Safari Park and have been here for the last 10 years. I worked on the elephant team for a number of years, and I am currently working on one of the ambassador teams with free flight birds and a couple of mammals. I love San Diego and am so grateful I get to call this place my home. I have been married for 10 years and have two children.
Arianna Bailey CPBT-KA, CPAT-KA, Show Manager, Natural Encounters, Inc., Florida, USA
Ari Bailey has been working in the animal field for more than 17 years. She got her start working with a large collection of reptiles, mostly crocodilians, and this is where she found her love for behavior. She sought out a job with Natural Encounters, Inc. 14 years ago and has worked alongside many talented trainers during her tenure. She is the current Show Manager for NEI, leading a team that fosters an incredible environment for learning and growing while producing free flight bird shows. Certified as a professional bird trainer and professional animal trainer (CPBT-KA, CPAT-KA), Ari is a key faculty member for NEI TEC, providing monthly content that is available as a resource to the professional zoological and training community online, an instructor for NEI’s Professionals Workshops and online courses, and co-host of the NEI TEC Talk Podcast. She has been an IAATE member for over 10 years serving on various committees and the Board of Directors. She is currently the Past President of IAATE.
Helen Dishaw, Curator of Bird Programs, Tracy Aviary, Utah, USA
Helen Dishaw currently holds the position of Curator of Bird Programs at Tracy Aviary, managing the ambassador animal program as well as serving on the organization’s leadership team. A lifelong lover of the creatures we share our planet with, over the past two-plus decades she has worked with a variety of animals, including primates, exotic cats, free-flight birds of many species, and many other mammals and reptiles – learning from them as she teaches them to voluntarily participate in shows and programs at AZA-accredited facilities. Helen’s primary focus is on constantly improving the welfare and quality of life of birds in human care. Helen has been a board member of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators since 2008 and during that time has chaired several committees as well as having a hand in creating IAATE’s Position Statements on various aspects of avian management for educational and free-flight programs and serving as Editor for the IAATE member newsletter, The Flyer. She is the current Vice President of IAATE, a position she has held for the past twelve years, and in this role manages and oversees all aspects of the annual conference. In 2020, she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by IAATE for her service to the organization and the avian community. Helen also serves on the steering committees for both the AZA Ambassador Animal Scientific Advisory Group and the AZA Raptor Taxon Advisory Group and is the Ambassador Animal Advisor for the Raptor TAG.
Kristin Dean, CPBT-KA, Director of Avian Operations, Carolina Raptor Center, North Carolina, USA. Kristin has been working with birds, primarily raptors, for over 18 years. Currently, Kristin oversees the Raptor Rehabilitation Program and Resident Animal Programs at Carolina Raptor Center. Her experience in rehabilitating, training, and caring for raptors has resulted in a depth of raptor specific knowledge. She also serves on Carolina Raptor Center’s leadership team as an integral part of staff development, fulfillment of CRC’s mission, and visitor engagement. Kristin has a strong commitment to conservation and strives to inspire people of all ages to have a caring attitude towards nature and engage in conservation practices. Kristin is driven to help improve the welfare of animals in human care. She has presented information in a variety of ways through CRC seminars, NEI’s TEC Talks, and IAATE papers, presentations, and articles. She currently serves as a general board member on IAATE Board of Directors, serves as Chair on the IAATE Education Committee, and as a committee member on the Conservation Committee and Professional Development Committee.
Erin Katzner, President and CEO, Carolina Raptor Center, North Carolina, USA
I attended my first IAATE conference in 2002 and have been on the Board of Directors since 2014. As a board member I have served as the Conservation Committee Chair, President-Elect, President, and Past President. I currently serve as Secretary of the Board and am on the Professional Development and Marketing Committees. My first paid position working with birds was in 1996 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Since then, I have worked at the National Aviary, the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, The Peregrine Fund, and am now serving as the Executive Director for the Carolina Raptor Center. I have also held positions at Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc. and West Virginia University. I have a BS focused on Wildlife Management from The Ohio State University and a Master’s focused on Nonprofit Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Steve Martin, President and CEO, Natural Encounters, Inc., Florida, USA
I began my career in the mid-1970s when I set up the first free-flight bird show of its kind. With the success of that show at the San Diego Wild Animal Park came opportunities to set up more programs around the world. My company grew to over 50 professional bird trainers and our consulting opportunities have taken us to zoos all over the world … mostly teaching mammal keepers the art and science of training to provide better welfare for their animals. We also produce free-flight, educational bird programs at zoological facilities around the world. As a founding member of IAATE, I continue to serve on the board and support the outstanding contributions this organization makes to help animal care professionals and the birds in their care.