These associations include members that work with wildlife in various capacities. Professional associations also educate members, conduct research, and bring members together to advance the field and solve problems. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the field of wildlife or have many years of experience, you’ll find joining a professional wildlife association beneficial. This list of professional environmental, wildlife, and conservation associations serve the national and international community. Within these, you may also find chapters representing your state or region.
The American Fisheries Society focuses on enhancing and conserving fish ecosystems. This organization publishes several journals including the Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, which covers research topics, the North American Journal of Fisheries Management which covers fishery resource management topics, and the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health covering aquatic health topics. Meetings are held once a year, typically in August or September.
The American Ornithologists’ Union includes both professional and amateurs dedicated to the avian sciences. The AOU programs include the Student Affairs Committee that actively brings college students together with seasoned professional ornithologists. Publications include Ornithological Monographs, Series in Ornithology, and bird checklists and taxonomy manuals. The AOU also publishes the journal The Auk, considered one of the top 100 most influential journals of the last 100 years in medicine and biology by the Special Libraries Association’ s (SLA) Biomedical and Life Sciences Division. The AOU holds and participates in several meetings and conferences each year and around the world.
Members of The Waterbird Society research and conserve all aquatic birds from wading to pelagic birds. The International Journal of Waterbird Biology is published by the society and meetings are held annually.
Researchers, environmental educators, wildlife rehabilitators, students, and birders make up the membership base of the Raptor Research Foundation. This organization publishes The Journal of Raptor Research and the Wingspan newsletter. Past annual conferences have included symposiums on “Raptor and Human Conflicts,” “Raptors and Energy Development,” and “Raptors in Education.”
As an international organization, the Association of Field Ornithologists works to study and understand the natural history of birds through banding and field research projects. The AFO openly recruits both professional and amateur birders.
Like other professional avian organizations, the Cooper Ornithological Society also includes both professionals and amateurs in the research and documentation of birds. The COS started in California in 1893 and now has members from around the world. COS publishes a quarterly journal The Condor and Studies in Avian Biology.
Named for birder Alexander Wilson who published a series of North American bird identification books entitled American Ornithology from 1808 to 1814, the Wilson Ornithological Society “recognizes the unique role of the serious amateur in ornithology.” With this foundation, the society has created a “strong working relationship among all who study birds.” This society publishes The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, a newsletter, and has several research grants available.
The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology holds one of the largest collections of bird artifacts in the world. This collection, held at the Camarillo Bird Museum in Camarillo, CA, is open to the public for viewing and to researchers for study. The foundation’s focus is on all things birds including conservation and education.
Herpetology and Ichthyology Associations
The professional study of fish, amphibians, and reptiles are included in the American Society of Ichthylogists and Herpetologists. Its journal Copecia publishes four times a year. Beyond its journal and annual conference, the ASIH maintains databases to help museum and zoo curators of fish and herp collections better care for their collections.
Members of the Chelonian Research Foundation work to research and conserve wild turtles and tortoises. The organization publishes the Chelonian Conservation and Biology International Journal of Turtle and Tortoise Research, Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter, and several monographs that include conference proceedings and extensive writings about chelonians.
Since 1946, the members of the Herpetologists’ League have been studying the biology of reptiles and amphibians, collectively called ‘herps.’ Its Conservation Committee provides expert information to other conservation associations and societies and participates in related legislation. Herpetologica is the main journal of the HL.
The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles also works with government agencies and nonprofit organizations in herp related research. Through the Herpetology Education Committee, members also answer public questions about reptiles and amphibians and provide lesson plans for teachers.
Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation strives to conserve herp habitats by creating cooperative partnerships amongst various governmental, nonprofit, and private organizations. To accomplish this, members also come from a wide range of professions that includes government employees, university researchers, and private business.
No matter what job in wildlife you choose, insects will be an important part of the job. Insects provide food for many animals and are an intricate part of any ecosystem. The Entomological Society of America members study those insects; monitoring species populations and habitat health as well as combating invasive or pest species.
Aquatic Ecosystems Associations
The American Society of Limnology and Oceanography supports and promotes professionals working in the aquatic sciences, from creeks to the ocean. The society publishes several journals and holds national and international meetings on a regular basis.
Although the center of the North American Lake Management Society profession is lakes, the ecosystems directly connected to lakes are also part of the society’s reach. This society makes a point to welcome all who are interested in lake conservation and resources, not just those whose profession involves lake management.
Wetland research, education, outreach, conservation, and policymaking are many of the goals of the Society of Wetland Scientists. Members have access to the journal Wetlands, chapter newsletters, membership directory, and can receive discounts for the yearly conference.
The North American Benthological Society puts its focus the benthos region of freshwater systems. This ecosystem is found where the water meets the land. Those working in this environmental field are relied on to monitor for pollution and invasive species.
Professional members of the American Society of Mammalogists focus their studies on all mammals, from mice to humans. Much of the work performed and promoted by the society is done through communities such as the Animal Care and Use, Conservation, Marine Mammal, and Human Diversity committees.
The Society for Marine Mammalogy’s primary objective is to “Evaluate and promote the educational, scientific and managerial advancement of marine mammal science.” The society has student chapters to get students involved in marine mammalogy through symposiums and field trips.
Wildlife and Environmental Education Associations
Since 1971, the North American Association for Environmental Education has been “Promoting Excellence in Environmental Education.” Members of this organization work directly with kids and schools using the outdoors as their classroom.
The International Zoo Educators Association membership base work and volunteer as wildlife and conservation educators in zoos and aquariums around the world. The organization’s resources help members use the most effective conservation teaching methods, develop education materials, improve marketing campaigns, and provide the best care for the animals that participate in educational programs.
The Association of Professional Wildlife Educators members are volunteers and professionals working directly with wildlife and educating the public about those animals. The association provides a way for members to network to learn and use high standards in the care and handling of wildlife in educational programs and “to advance the field of wildlife education.”
Environmental, Conservation, and Ecology Associations
The Natural Areas Association is for anyone working to preserve natural wild lands. The organization’s conferences, Natural Areas Journal, and newsletter includes research and information on the control of invasive species, the use of prescribed burning, and management of different habitat types.
Members of the National Association of Environmental Professionals primarily work in jobs that relate to fulfilling the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and similar state regulations. There are also several state chapters including in California, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, and Georgia.
Drawing members from around the world, the Society for Conservation Biology focuses on biological diversity and research into its loss and conservation.
The Environmental Management Association works to maintain a professional connection between government policy makers and environmental professionals.
Members of IALE work in many different fields, but all relate in some way to landscape ecology. This includes geographic information specialists (GIS), architects, ecologists, biologists, and land use professionals.
The Wildlife Society membership base works in various fields related to wildlife. The organization has several working groups, which are networks of people with more specific focuses such as renewable energy, GIS, military lands, forestry, and wildlife education.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ mission, in part, is to lead the way in setting high standards for animal care, conservation, and wildlife education. The AZA does this in multiple ways, including engaging the public to enjoy and care about wildlife and conservation, funding conservation projects around the world, accrediting zoos and aquariums, through the Species Survival Plan Program, and professional development programs for zoo and aquarium staff.
The American Association of Zoo Keepers represents zookeepers, aquarists, and other professional wild animal caretakers and those working in wildlife conservation. Through workshops, conferences, and its Animal Keepers: Forum publication, members are able to learn from each other and develop best practice methods for captive animal care, training, enrichment, and public education.
The American Association of Museums represents educational museums ranging for art to science to zoos. Museum staff and volunteers make up the membership of the AAM.
Environmental and behavioral enrichment are part of any good wildlife caretaker’s daily job. Through habitat design, toys, training sessions, social interactions and various other methods, zookeeper and other wildlife caretakers enrich the lives of the animals in their care. The Shape of Enrichment provides a way for animal caretakers to connect and develop new ideas for providing environmental and behavioral enrichment to all animals in their care.
The gardens of a zoo or wildlife park take an immense amount of work and knowledge to create and care for. And they’re not just for public enjoyment. Zoo gardens also provide natural habitats and organic natural food for the zoo animals. A primary purpose of the AZH and its members is to “advance public and professional education regarding the importance of zoo horticulture and its role in the educational, recreational, conservation and scientific goals of the living natural history museum.”
There’s more to working in a zoo or aquarium than directly caring for the animals. Zoo and aquarium design and maintenance is equally important. The Aquarium & Zoo Facilities Association includes zoo and aquarium architects, maintenance crew, construction workers, plumbers, and more.
Animal Training and Behavior Associations
Since its founding in 1964, members of the Animal Behavior Society have studied the behavior of all types of animals both in the wild and in captivity. Research is published in the society’s journal Animal Behaviour and presented at the annual meeting. ABS represents itself as unique for “encouraging scientist at all stages of their career to present their research” at the meetings.
The Animal Behavior Management Alliance focuses on the training and enrichment of animals and the behavior of animals as it relates to their care and training. Members are employed or volunteer at zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and wildlife education facilities.
Members of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators work in zoos, bird shows, private facilities, and even with pet parrot owners. Members are able to connect through committees, forums, and conferences to advance bird care, training, conservation, and public education methods in the profession.
International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association members work with all types of marine mammals, from dolphins and killer whales to belugas and sea lions. The organization’s primary values include “emphasizing positive reinforcement to ensure humane care” and be a resource for “professionals, leaders, and experts in the animal field.”
Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians and Veterinary Technician Associations
Wildlife medicine presents unique challenges not seen with pets. Every species has its own medical needs and wild animals do not usually take kindly to a veterinarian’s exam. The members of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians do more than work in zoos. They can also be found in government and conservation jobs.
From wild parrots kept as pets to toucans and endangered condors, many wildlife veterinarians specialize in treating birds. Members of the Association of Avian Veterinarians work in private practice, zoos, and conservation projects.
Members of the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians include snakes, lizards, and frogs among their patients. Through its Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery, conferences, and collaboration, the veterinarians are able to develop the specialized medical care that these wild animals need.
Just as in private veterinary practice, veterinary technicians work alongside the veterinarians in the zoos and other wildlife centers. The Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians has made a commitment to, in part, “encourage the recognition of the importance of the veterinary technician’s role in zoo veterinary medicine, scientific study, and conservation.”
Wildlife Rehabilitation Associations
Wildlife rehabilitators take care of sick and injured wildlife with the goal of releasing that animal back into its natural habitat. Members of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council come from all over the world to share information on all aspects of wildlife rehabilitation including, housing, nutrition, medical, diseases, and much more.
The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
Another organization that supports all in wildlife rehabilitation from the volunteers to the technicians to veterinarians is The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association. Members also include zookeepers and wildlife and environmental educators.
- *Cheetah photo by OlgaLIS/Bigstockphoto.com
- *Falconry photo by RobMckay/Bigstockphoto.com
- *Tortoise photo by Darrin Henry/Bigstockphoto.com
- *Giraffe photo by Strushka/Bigstockphoto.com