News Release

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,

July 18, 2019


Upcoming Conservation Leadership Conference to Inspire STEAM Careers for Teens
Three-Day Event Presented by Chicago Zoological, Lincoln Park Zoo, and John G. Shedd Aquarium

Brookfield, Ill. – Approximately 350 Chicagoland teens will get an introduction to exciting careers in wildlife and nature at the third annual Teen Conservation Leadership Conference, presented by the Chicago Zoological Society, in partnership with Lincoln Park Zoo and John G. Shedd Aquarium.

The conference takes place over three days from July 30 to August 1. The first two days take place at Dominican University in River Forest, and the last day will feature a Conservation Action Day that allows participants the option to take part in a volunteer project at two Chicago Park District locations—Montrose Bird Sanctuary and Columbus Park Natural Area. Opportunities include teens putting their conservation passion to work by pulling invasive plant species, collecting and dispersing seeds, and performing trail maintenance and litter clean-up.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for teens to experience a professional conservation and science conference and get exposure to some of the leaders in the zoo and aquarium industry, as well as professors at local universities” said, Angela Sullivan, vice president of education and community engagement for the Chicago Zoological Society. “Attendees will choose sessions in conservation, animal care and welfare, and art and science. In addition they will learn about teen programs that are offered at Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, and Brookfield Zoo as well as careers in STEAM—science, technology, engineering, art, and math. They will also have the chance to develop their skill sets related to leadership, networking, and college readiness.”

Teen-focused informational workshops, lectures, and panel discussions on topics such as animal welfare, energy, and sustainability will showcase exciting STEAM careers. Program highlights include the Shedd Aquarium’s Teen Learning Lab, a space designed by teens for teens that offers hands-on science activities, and opportunities to tinker with tech, and explore aquatic-themed art, and a chance to virtually control Lincoln Park Zoo’s Beam Telepresence Technology as it makes its way through Lincoln Park Zoo.

Registration for the event is now open. To attend the conference, participants must be between the ages of 14 and 19 years old. A registration fee of $5 per person per day is required, which will contribute to the Society’s conservation initiatives and programs. For more information, including individual and group registration, visit or email

Steven Levitt, co-author of the popular Freakonomics book series and tenured professor in the University of Chicago's economics department, will deliver the keynote talk on the conference’s first day. On the second day, keynote speaker Adam J. Hecktman, director of technology and civic innovation – Chicago, Microsoft Corporation will speak to the attendees about Microsoft’s AI for Earth program.

Additional experts speaking about exciting careers in conservation and STEAM at the conference include:

· Chris Anderson (Dominican University), “March Mammal Madness: the Power of Science as Narrative”

· John Andrews and Paul Senner (Lincoln Park Zoo) and Anne Nichols (Chicago Zoological Society), “SSP Management”

· Gabriel Andrle, Emily Cain, Evan Emmel, Amanda Ismail, Jordan Fleming, Guadalupe Loza, Selenia Murillo (alumni of Chicago Zoological Society’s youth programs), “Here to There: Chicago Zoological Society Youth Program Alumni”

· Jennifer Baader (Chicago Zoological Society), Andrea Densham (John G. Shedd Aquarium), and Marybeth Johnson (Lincoln Park Zoo), “The Impact of Community Outreach and Government Affairs on Conservation”

· Amanda Berlinski (Lincoln Park Zoo), “Making a Migration Match”

· Melissa Brice (350 Chicago), “What a New Energy Infrastructure Should Look Like”

· Jocelyn Bryant (Chicago Zoological Society), “Animal Hormones and Poop. What’s the Connection?”

· Dr. Robert Calin-Jageman (Dominican University), “From Neuron to Behavior-Building the Animal Brain”

· Chuck Cannon, Ph.D. (The Morton Arboretum), “Getting to Know Your Neighborly Ambassador for Nature: the Tree”

· Joan Daniels (Chicago Zoological Society), “Mexican Wolf Recovery Program”

· Dr. David Drake (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “Being a wildlife ecologist - the most rewarding job in the world”

· Ray Dybzinski (Loyola University), “Evidence-based hope for the future: The human population bottleneck & conservation reserves as re-wilding centers”

· Sarah Feliciano, Matthew Owens, and Kayla Fowler (Chicago Zoological Society), “The Art of Enriching Animals’ Lives”

· Stef Funk (Plant Chicago), “Introduction to Circular Economies”

· Kate Gannon (Chicago Botanic Garden and Windy City Harvest Youth), “The Food System Chain Game”

· Dr. Kentaro Inoue (John G. Shedd Aquarium), “You don’t find Mussels in the gym!”

· John Kanzia (Chicago Zoological Society), “The CO₂ Crisis: What’s Happening to Our Oceans?”

· Adam Pankratz (Kinklebearcat), “Connecting to Nature and Conservation through Art”

· Debra Kutska (Oakton Community College), “Sustainability: A Way to Cope with Chaos”

· Emily Leu and Theresa Salus (REI Co-op), “Careers in Nature through Outdoor Recreation”

· Tim Loatman and Rebecca Andersen (Collegis Education), “Preparing for Employment: Resume and Interview Tips for Teens”

· Ellen McManus (Dominican University), “Saving the Bees”

· Matthew and Joseph Moheban (220 Leadership), “Design Your Ultimate Life”

· Julie Moller, “The Effects of Microplastics on the Environment”

· Erik Neidy (Forest Preserve District of DuPage County), “Ecosystem Restoration: Improved quality of life. For whom?”

· Dr. Caryn Poll (John G. Shedd Aquarium), “From Dart Frogs to Whales: Veterinary Care for Shedd’s Residents”

· Kim Schollenberger (Chicago Zoological Society), “Pangolin Conservation and Animal Care”

· Dr. Julie Sheldon (Chicago Zoological Society), “A Wild Path to Veterinary Medicine”

· Alisa Singer, “Environmental Graphiti – The Art of Climate Change”

· Andy Snider (Chicago Zoological Society), “Melding Herp and Aquatic Management, Conservation, and Science”

· Dr. Stuart Strahl (Chicago Zoological Society), “From South American Jungles to the Everglades to Brookfield Zoo—Connecting the Career Paths of a Conservationist”

· Credall Walls (Forest Preserves of Cook County), “Pathway through the Forest Preserves of Cook County: The Tale of the Ambassadors”

· Dr. Jennifer Watts (Chicago Zoological Society), “Zoo Nutrition: Fun with Food”

The event is hosted by the Chicago Zoological Society’s King Conservation Science Scholars Program, an innovative program that provides Chicago area students from diverse backgrounds with opportunities to learn about animals and conservation and prepare for their futures while making a difference in their communities. King Scholars, who helped plan the conference, participate in 120 hours of community service, which they initiate based on their individual passions and interests. The program currently enrolls 275 students from more than 110 high schools from throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.

King Scholars was established with a lead gift from the King Family Foundation and is also currently supported by: Baxter International Inc.; COUNTRY Financial; Microsoft Corporation; Nalco, an Ecolab Company; S & C Electric Company; and the Women's Board of the Chicago Zoological Society. In addition, supporters of the 2019 Teen Conservation Science Conference also include Dominican University, which donated its facilities for the conference; Lincoln Park Zoo; and John G. Shedd Aquarium.

About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read about our innovative practices in animal welfare to ensure the ultimate care of our individual animals.


Visit Brookfield Zoo

Create extraordinary connections with animals and nature!

Animal Welfare

You Can Help!

Become our partner in caring for animals and in connecting people with wildlife and nature.