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History of IMATA – Events

By Nedra Hecker, IMATA Historian

IMATA
in the '70s

IMATA historical photos form the 1970s
FEB 1972 A one-day, invitation only Marine Mammal Trainer Workshop for experienced trainers is hosted by the Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego, California. The workshop is organized by workshop chairman Dr. Ross Pepper and moderator Dr. Bob Blanchard.  Fifteen individuals attend from eight facilities. The first proceedings is created and distributed following the workshop.
NOV 1972 A two-day, invitation-only Marine Mammal Trainer Workshop for experienced trainers is hosted by Marineland of the Pacific in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, organized by workshop chairman Dr. Ross Pepper and moderator Dr. Bob Blanchard.  The workshop program is semi-formatted, with discussions grouped by topics - husbandry, animal selection, animal training, animal/trainer communication, and trainer training. Twenty-one individuals attend including Ingrid Kang from Sea Life Park, the first woman involved in the development of IMATA.  An Organizational Committee is formed to create a professional organization of trainers, chaired by Kent Burgess. The first host facility visit takes place, with a trip to Marineland of the Pacific on the second day.   
NOV 1973 The third Marine Mammal Trainer Workshop is hosted by Marine World Africa USA in Redwood City, California. Thirty individuals attend representing 13 facilities. A constitution is adopted, creating the International Marine Animal Trainers Association and transforming this workshop into the first annual IMATA conference. IMATA’s first elected officers are President Kent Burgess, Vice President Herb Reed and Secretary/Treasurer Rusty White.
DEC 1974 The second annual conference is hosted by Sea World in Orlando, Florida. This is the first meeting held outside the state of California.  Fifty-seven delegates representing 28 facilities attend. The first international delegates attend from Canada, Bermuda and The Bahamas. For the first time, the conference program includes nine formal presentations and two open forum discussions. The last day includes a tour of the facility and, for the first time, a dinner courtesy of the host facility.
DEC 1975 The third annual conference is hosted by Marineland of the Pacific in Redondo Beach, California. The use of Roberts Rules of Order is adopted. Seventy-five delegates attend. The last day of the conference includes a tour of Marineland of the Pacific and, for the first time, a cocktail hour prior to the hosted dinner. Officers for 1975 are President Rusty White, Vice President Bill Scronce and Secretary/Treasurer Vic Charfauros.
APR 1976 Volume 1, Issue 1 of Soundings, IMATA’s quarterly newsletter, is published. IMATA’s president Bill Scronce is the editor, responsible for its content and publication.
SEP 1976 Jim Corey of the Navy Marine Mammal Program wins a contest for designing the IMATA logo.
NOV 1976 The fourth annual conference is co-hosted by Sea Life Park and the Navy Marine Mammal Program in Honolulu, Hawaii. This is the first conference outside of the continental United States.  Officers for 1976 are President Bill Scronce, Vice President Vic Charfauros and Secretary/Treasurer Jim Mullen.  
MAY 1977 Molly Hart-Richards is appointed as the first Historian. She is the first woman to serve in an official role for IMATA.
NOV 1977 The fifth annual conference is hosted by the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts. A total of 15 formal presentations are offered. A fee of $10 for late renewal of memberships is adopted. The office of President Elect is created. A final banquet is held aboard the New England Aquarium’s ship, Discovery. Officers for 1977 are President Vic Charfauros, Vice President Don McSheehy and Secretary/Treasurer Jim Mullen. 
MAY 1978 Soundings newsletter publishes a list of operant conditioning terms and definitions in an article written by Kayce Cover.
DEC 1978 The sixth annual conference is hosted by Marine World Africa USA in Redwood City, California at the Marine World Holiday Inn. A total of 20 formal presentations are offered, including two papers on non-marine mammal species and one panel discussion. Nearly 100 delegates attend, including international members from Canada, Australia, Germany and South Africa.  IMATA merchandise is offered for purchase, including t-shirts, hats, and belt buckles.    A Soundings newsletter team is created to assist in generating and receiving submissions, including an Eastern Region, a Western Region, a Western Foreign Region, and a Pacific Foreign Region.   IMATA adopts a Professional Code of Ethics. A new membership category, Professional, is created requiring three or more years of experience. The constitution is changed to reflect that only those of Professional status can hold an elected office. Officers for 1978 are President Dave Butcher, President Elect Don McSheehy, Vice President Jeff Haun and Secretary/Treasurer Jim Mullen. 
AUG 1979 The first membership directory is published in Soundings newsletter by Secretary Randy Brill.
NOV 1979 The seventh annual conference is hosted by Sea World in San Diego, California at The Islandia Hotel. About 150 delegates are in attendance including international members from Canada, West Germany, Switzerland and Israel. Informal Night is introduced. The first award is created, known as Behavior of the Year, to honor the best new and innovative trained behavior with a single trophy to rotate between each annual winner. The first recipient is Carol Chang of Sea Life Park, Hawaii for her hula-hooping rough-toothed dolphin Malia. The first official committees are appointed – Conference Committee chaired by Jack Pearson, Election Committee chaired by Jack Pearson, Newsletter Committee chaired by Jeff Haun, Trophy Committee chaired by Carol Chang, Conference Site Committee chaired by Jack Pearson, and Legislative Committee chaired by Vic Charfauros.  Earl Murchison is appointed to meet with the President of the European Association of Aquatic Mammals to establish a policy of reciprocation between the organizations. The office of Past President is created and the duties of Secretary and Treasurer are divided into separate offices. Officers for 1979 are Past President Dave Butcher, President Don McSheehy, President Elect Jeff Haun, Vice President Jack Pearson, Secretary Randy Brill and Treasurer Jim Mullen.

IMATA
in the '80s

IMATA historical photos form the 1980s
FEB 1980 The first “Fat Fred” column appears in Soundings newsletter as a place to share humorous stories. It is compiled by Carol Chang. The first book review column, “Off The Shelf”, also appears in this issue, compiled by Molly Hart-Richards and Earl Murchison.
MAY 1980 The membership directory is published in Soundings newsletter by Secretary Randy Brill and includes “organizational members” for the first time, recognizing those that actively support IMATA’s efforts and deserve special thanks and recognition.
OCT 1980
The eighth annual conference is hosted by Miami Seaquarium in Miami, Florida at the Royal Biscayne Hotel and Resort. The first conference registration fee is charged - $15 for members, $25 for non-members – and the ability to pre-register is offered. This is the first conference to achieve financial independence. Twenty formal presentations are offered, along with one panel discussion. The Behavior of the Year winner is Dave Butcher of Sea World for use of random and interrupted reinforcement (RIR) to train killer whale water work. The Liaison Committee is created, chaired by Robert Hult. The 1981 and 1982 conference sites are chosen at the Business Meeting, the first time a site is determined two years in advance. Officers for 1980 are Past President Don McSheehy, President Jeff Haun, President Elect Earl Murchison, Vice President Jack Pearson and Secretary Randy Brill and Treasurer Jim Mullen. These are the first officers nominated through a mail-in form.
AUG 1981 The first membership survey appears in Soundings newsletter.
NOV 1981 The ninth annual conference is hosted by the Aquarium of Niagara Falls in Niagara Falls, New York at John’s Niagara Hotel. The Behavior of the Year winner is Sea World’s animal behavior staff for a mixed species kiss between killer whale Shamu and California sea lion Clyde. The first bylaws are adopted and added to the existing IMATA constitution. The Products Committee is created, with Jim Mullen as chair. Officers for 1981 are Past President Jeff Haun, President Earl Murchison, President Elect Jack Pearson, Vice President Randy Brill, Secretary Jayne Rodriguez and Treasurer Kevin Walsh. This is the first time a woman serves as an officer.
JAN 1982 The first "Clinic's Corner" column appears in Soundings newsletter, written by Dr. Jay Sweeney. 
OCT 1982 The tenth annual conference is co-hosted by Sea Life Park and the Navy Marine Mammal Program in Honolulu, Hawaii. This is the first time an IMATA conference is coordinated by a professional company, Aloha Unlimited, which offers spouse activities, pre- and post-conference tours, car discounts and airline discounts. The Behavior of the Year award winner is Carol Chang of Sea Life Park, Hawaii for training a ball balance with bottlenose dolphin (gilli) Kamoana. The Photo Art Contest makes its debut, sponsored by Jack Harmon of SEACO. Nedra Hecker was the first Art Winner with a marine mammal quilt. Officers for 1982 are Past President Earl Murchison, President Jack Pearson, President Elect Randy Brill, Vice President Jeff Haun, Secretary Jim Mullen and Treasurer Dave Butcher. These are the first officers elected by all eligible members through a mail-in ballot.
JAN 1983 Membership exceeds 200 individuals. In an effort to increase the value of Soundings newsletter and IMATA membership, select papers from the previous conference are published. 
FEB 1983 “Trainer’s Forum” debuts in Soundings newsletter. The first advertisement also appears, promoting State Fish Company.
MAY 1983 Kayce Cover is named as IMATA’s second Historian.
OCT 1983 The eleventh annual conference is hosted by Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, Minnesota at the Holiday Inn International. IMATA’s first keynote speaker, researcher Dr. William Evans, opens the conference. The Behavior of the Year award winner is Dan Shinder of the Navy Marine Mammal Program for bottlenose dolphin slide out and transport tray. The Legislative Committee is renamed The Legislation, Information and Policy Committee, chaired by Jack Pearson. The requirement for endorsements of new member applications is eliminated. Officers for 1983 are Past President Jack Pearson, President Randy Brill, President Elect Ed Krajniak, Vice President Austin McDevitt, Secretary Jim Mullen and Treasurer Dave Butcher.
JAN 1984 The first committee column appears in Soundings newsletter, written by the Legislative, Information and Policy Committee, chaired by Jack Pearson, to keep membership informed of current issues and events. As part of the committee’s mission, an additional column titled “Protect Our Image”, written by Tim Desmond, also debuts.
JUN 1984 IMATA is represented for the first time at the International Whaling Commission meeting. Jack Pearson serves as IMATA’s Non-Governmental Observer.
NOV 1984
The twelfth annual conference is hosted by Marineland of the Pacific in Long Beach, California at the Long Beach Hyatt Regency Hotel. The Behavior of the Year award winner is the Marineland of the Pacific training staff for tube insertion training in killer whales and bottlenose dolphins. The offices of Secretary and Treasurer become two year terms with alternating years of election. Officers for 1984 are Past President Randy Brill, President Ed Krajniak, President Elect Austin McDevitt, Vice President Tim Desmond, Secretary Dan Shinder and Treasurer Dave Butcher.
JAN 1985 "Regional Reports" make their debut in Soundings newsletter. Membership exceeds 300 individuals.
JUL 1985 Jeff Haun represents IMATA as a non-governmental observer to the International Whaling Commission meeting in Bournemouth, England.
OCT 1985 The thirteenth annual conference is hosted by Sea World of Florida in Orlando, Florida at the Wyndham Hotel. The Behavior of the Year award winner is Tricia Kamolnick of the Navy Marine Mammal Program for micro-computer assisted training of a bottlenose dolphin (gilli) for ergometric studies. Membership dues are increased for 1986.  An Advisory Committee is created to assist IMATA’s Executive Board. Officers for 1985 are Past President Ed Krajniak, President Austin McDevitt, President Elect Tim Desmond, Vice President Thad Lacinak, Secretary Dan Shinder and Treasurer Tish Flynn. This is the first time a woman serves as Treasurer.
JUN 1986 Jeff Haun presents IMATA’s first formal opening statement at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Malmo, Sweden and is chosen to serve as a member of the U.S. delegation. 
SEP 1986 Bruce Stephens delivers IMATA’s first presentation at the National Conference of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums, focusing on recent advances in marine mammal husbandry training.
OCT 1986 The fourteenth annual conference is hosted by Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, Canada at the Vancouver Sheraton Hotel. This is the first international IMATA conference. The first conference logo is created and conference t-shirts make their debut. The Behavior of the Year award winner is Joel Silverman of Zoo Vet Productions for a triple bow foot push throw with bottlenose dolphins Happy and Soda. The first IMATA informational brochure is made available as a means to communicate IMATA’s message and attract new members. Officers for 1986 are Past President Austin McDevitt, President Tim Desmond, President Elect Dave Merritt, Vice President Scott Sharpe, Secretary Dan Shinder and Treasurer Tish Flynn.
JAN 1987 IMATA’s Legislation, Information and Policy Committee develops IMATA’s response to the Klinowska Report and submits it to leaders in the United Kingdom and Europe.
JUN 1987 Jack Pearson represents IMATA as a non-governmental observer to the International Whaling Commission meeting while Jeff Haun is elected as a U.S. delegate. Randy Brill serves as Chairman of the newly forming Marine Mammal Interest Group.
SEP 1987 “Innerviews” debuts in Soundings newsletter, featuring Dr. Sam Ridgway.
OCT 1987 Jeff Haun, Bruce Stephens, Ken Ramirez and Hop Porter represent IMATA at the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species in Canada. 
OCT 1987 The fifteenth annual conference is held in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Palace Suite Hotel. This is the first conference without a host facility.   The first raffle takes place with a single prize of one free room night. The winner is determined by a drawing at the Business Meeting. Large panel discussions are replaced with smaller discussion groups. Committee meetings are held at the conference and open for all interested members to attend. The Behavior of the Year winner is Deborah Pawloski of SEACO for combined control of peak frequency and source level echolocation with bottlenose dolphin Heptuna. Officers for 1987 are Past President Tim Desmond, President Dave Merritt, President Elect Bruce Stephens, Vice President Joan Caron, Secretary Dan Shinder and Treasurer Deidre Rector. This is the first time a woman serves as Vice President.
JAN 1988 Membership exceeds 500 individuals. IMATA participates as an organizational member on the steering committee of the developing Marine Mammal Interest Group at two meetings in 1988. Also this year Secretary Steve Shippee creates the first computerized membership database.
NOV 1988 The sixteenth annual conference is hosted by Sea World of Texas in San Antonio, Texas at the Wyndham Hotel.  This is the first conference to have over 200 attendees. The Behavior of the Year award winner is Jeff Pawloski of the Navy Marine Mammal Program for medical behaviors with a Risso’s dolphin. The SEACO Photo Art Contest expands to four awards given in the categories of photo/art, humor/cartoon, brochure/logo, and photo caption. Officers for 1988 are Past President Dave Merritt, President Bruce Stephens, President Elect Ed Krajniak, Vice President Ken Ramirez, Secretary Steve Shippee and Treasurer Deidre Rector. 
JAN 1989 Membership exceeds 600 members. Ken Ramirez is named chair of the Legislation, Information and Policy Committee. Jeff Haun serves as chairman of the Marine Mammal Interest Group.
JUN 1989 Ed Krajniak represents IMATA as a non-governmental observer to the International Whaling Commission meeting in San Diego, California. 
JUL 1989 “Conservation Forum” debuts in Soundings newsletter.
OCT 1989 Jeff Haun, Bruce Stephens and Kathy Sdao represent IMATA at the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species in Lausanne, Switzerland. 
NOV 1989 The seventeenth annual conference is hosted by Dolfinarium Harderwijk in Amsterdam, Holland at Hotel Novotel. This is the first IMATA conference held outside North America and IMATA’s first European conference.  All pre-registered conference delegates and abstract authors are entered into a drawing for a free airline ticket. The Behavior of the Year award winner is Joann Okimura of Marine World Africa USA for a front flip with a harbor seal. The Trophy Committee is renamed the Honors and Awards Committee. The European Association of Aquatic Mammals offers IMATA members half-price subscription rates to their journal Aquatic Mammals. Officers for 1989 are Past President Bruce Stephens, President Ed Krajniak, President Elect Ken Ramirez, Vice President Jeff Haun, Secretary Steve Shippee and Treasurer Marty Sevenich.

IMATA
in the '90s

IMATA historical photos from the 1990s
JAN 1990 Membership exceeds 800 members. “Notices and Announcements” debuts in Soundings newsletter.
APR 1990 Ted Turner and Chuck Tompkins of Sea World publish their groundbreaking paper “Aggression: exploring the causes and possible reduction techniques” in Soundings newsletter.
JUL 1990 Jeff Haun represents IMATA as a non-governmental observer to the International Whaling Commission meeting in The Netherlands. 
JUL 1990 IMATA’s membership directory discontinues the practice of publishing individual contact information and instead groups members by facility.
NOV 1990 The eighteenth annual conference is co-hosted by Brookfield Zoo and Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois at the McCormick Center Hotel. Nearly 400 delegates attend. The first conference theme is introduced “Developments in Marine Mammal Public Display and Research.” After 11 years, the Behavior of the Year award is retired in a competition between all previous recipients. Called The Behavior of the Decade, the trophy winner is Dan Shinder of the Navy Marine Mammal Program. Mike Scarpuzzi, chair of the Honors and Awards Committee, unveils three new training awards – People’s Choice won by Jose Luis Barbero of Marineland Mallorca, Trained Show Behavior won by Jose Luis Barbero of Marineland Mallorca, and Husbandry Techniques/Research Advancements won by C.J. Casson of Seattle Aquarium. With a vote of confidence from the membership, Randy Brill leads IMATA in the creation of a new constitution. Membership criteria is changed for Active level status, reinstating the requirement for two letters of endorsement. IMATA purchases its first computer and printer for the use of the Secretary. The conference site selection expands, choosing sites three years in advance. Officers for 1990 are Past President Ed Krajniak, President Ken Ramirez, President Elect John Kirtland, Vice President Randy Brill, Secretary Cheryl Messinger and Treasurer Marty Sevenich. 
JAN 1991 Membership exceeds 900 members in 25 countries. The first IMATA regional workshop is held in the Midwest U.S. region, hosted by the St. Louis Zoo in St. Louis, Missouri and organized by Jim Alexander. Mike Rothe becomes chair of the Legislation, Information and Policy Committee. John Kirtland and Randy Brill attend the Marine Mammal Interest Group meeting in Miami, Florida.
MAY 1991 IMATA's officers conduct the first annual mid-year Board of Directors Meeting, hosted by Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois.
JUN 1991 John Kirtland represents IMATA at the Marine Mammal Interest Group meeting in Washington, D.C.
OCT 1991 Membership exceeds 900 individuals. The practice of publishing the membership directory in Soundings is discontinued and becomes a new, independent publication. Up to this point in time the Past President had been responsible for publishing Soundings during his year in this office.
NOV 1991 The nineteenth annual conference is hosted by Marine World Africa USA in Vallejo, California at the Sheraton Concord Hotel. The keynote speaker is industry founder and researcher Dr. Ken Norris. Prior to the conference, the Executive Board conducts the first strategic planning session to identify both long and short-term goals for IMATA, facilitated by Tom Otten. The Honors and Awards Committee adds one new award category – Poster Presentation, won by Mike Scarpuzzi of Sea World California. The committee also presents two special recognitions, the first to Ken Norris for outstanding contributions to the marine mammal profession and the second to Jim Mullen for outstanding contributions to IMATA. Officers for 1991 are Past President Ken Ramirez, President John Kirtland, President Elect Randy Brill, Vice President Sonny Allen, Secretary Cheryl Messinger and Treasurer Julie Scardina. 
JAN 1992
Membership exceeds 1,000 members. The Training Advisory Committee is created, chaired by Jim Clarke. Mike Rothe and John Kirtland represent IMATA at the Marine Mammal Interest Group meeting in Napa, California. The Publications Committee, chaired by John Kirtland, and an Editorial Advisory Board, are created to assume responsibility for Soundings and the new peer-reviewed journal.
MAR 1992 Randy Brill, representing IMATA, addresses the 20th annual symposium of the European Association for Aquatic Mammals in Brugge, Belgium.
MAY 1992 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Marineworld Africa USA in Concord, California. IMATA forms a sub-committee for European membership, chaired by Martin Huigen.
NOV 1992 The twentieth annual conference is co-hosted by Dolphin Experience and UNEXSO Dive Center in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island at the Radisson Resort Lucaya Beach Hotel. The keynote speaker is IMATA founder Jeff Haun.  Newly revised bylaws are adopted. The Executive Board increases to allow for nine members, including new positions Second Vice President and Director. Conference proceedings are changed, offering abstracts only. The first Central Office is established at Sea World in San Diego, California. Membership dues are increased. The Honors and Awards Committee adds one new award category – Education Conservation won by Cheryl Messinger of Dolphin Connection. The committee also presents three special recognitions – the first to Sonny Allen for 20 years of perfect conference attendance, the second to Randy Brill for holding office longer than any other individual and recognizing him for writing the new bylaws, constitution and articles of incorporation, and third to Jeff Haun for outstanding contributions to IMATA. Officers for 1992 are Past President John Kirtland, President Randy Brill, President Elect Sonny Allen, Vice President Vic Charfauros, Secretary Cheryl Messinger and Treasurer Julie Scardina.
JAN 1993 “Education Forum” debuts in Soundings newsletter. This year, IMATA regional workshops begin in Florida, the second geographical area to offer them. The first Southeast U.S. conference is hosted by Dolphin Connection and organized by Cheryl Messinger.
MAR 1993
IMATA incorporates as a non-profit organization in the State of California.
MAY 1993 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Sea World in San Diego, California.
JUN 1993 IMATA becomes a tax-exempt corporation in the State of California.
AUG 1993 Soundings newsletter transforms to Soundings magazine.
NOV 1993 The twenty-first annual conference is hosted by Dolphin Quest in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii at the King Kamehameha Hotel. The keynote speaker is marine mammal veterinarian Dr. Sam Ridgway. The IMATA Library is established at the Indianapolis Zoo. The first IMATA promotional poster is distributed. The idea of IMATA establishing a process of trainer certification is introduced.  The SAIC Photo Art Contest offers three categories – photo, art and humor. Officers for 1993 are Past President Randy Brill, President Sonny Allen, President Elect Dave Force, First Vice President Julie Scardina, Second Vice President Kathy Sdao, Secretary Cheryl Messinger, Treasurer Shawna Roberts and Directors John Kirtland and Ken Ramirez. This is the first time the positions of Second Vice President and Directors are filled.
MAY 1994
The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Sea World in Aurora, Ohio.
AUG 1994 IMATA publishes the first issue of peer reviewed journal; Marine Mammals: Public Display and Research, with John Kirtland as editor. Doug Messinger creates the journal logo.
NOV 1994 The twenty-second annual conference is hosted by Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington at the Sheraton Tacoma. The keynote speaker is researcher Dr. Debbie Duffield. This is the largest conference to date with nearly 400 delegates in attendance. Prior to the conference the second strategic planning session is held, facilitated by Michael Hutchins of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Raffle monies support the rehabilitation of a stranded harbor porpoise at Point Defiance Zoo. Officers for 1994 are Past President Sonny Allen, President Dave Force, President Elect Cheryl Messinger, First Vice President Kathy Sdao, Second Vice President Mike Rothe, Secretary Nedra Hecker, Treasurer Shawna Roberts and Director Ken Ramirez. This is the first time a woman serves as President Elect.
DEC 1994 IMATA submits guidelines for Animal Training Standards to the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.
JAN 1995 Issues of Soundings are labeled as first through fourth quarters, rather than seasonally (winter, spring, summer, fall). IMATA officially sanctions regional workshops this year. Randy Brill becomes chair of the Legislation, Information and Policy Committee. Mark Beeler becomes chair of the Animal Training Advisory Committee.
MAY 1995 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Sea World in San Diego, California. 
SEP 1995 Randy Brill represents IMATA at U.S. government negotiated rulemaking meetings. John Kirtland is designated IMATA’s first official public relations representative. 
NOV 1995 The twenty-third annual conference is hosted by The Mirage in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Treasure Island Hotel. The keynote speaker is Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums Executive Director Marilee Keefe. Raffle monies support the Wild Wing Project, bird rehabilitators. This is the largest conference to date with almost 400 delegates in attendance. The Animal Training Advisory Committee, chaired by Mark Beeler, presents its first formal presentation. Safeguards are established following the misappropriation of funds in 1994. The Education Committee is added, chaired by Ken Ramirez. Voting for conference site selection is conducted via paper ballot for the first time. Officers for 1995 are Past President Dave Force, President Cheryl Messinger, President Elect Mike Scarpuzzi, First Vice President Mike Rothe, Second Vice President Steve Romer, Secretary Nedra Hecker, Treasurer Rhona St. Clair Moore and Director Ken Ramirez . This is the first time an international member, Steve Romer of Sea World Australia, serves on the Executive Board. This is the first time a woman serves as President.
JAN 1996 Set as an initiative by President Mike Scarpuzzi, the first member opinion card appears in Soundings, the results of which become the content of a new “Trainer’s Feedback” column. The Legislation, Information and Policy committee establishes sub-committees in Europe, chaired by John Dineley, and in Australia, chaired by Trevor Long.
APR 1996 Randy Brill again represents IMATA at U.S. government negotiated rulemaking meetings. 
MAY 1996
The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Oceans of Fun in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Legislation, Information and Policy Committee Chair Mike Rothe secures attorney Jim Gesualdi as legal counsel for the organization.
JUL 1996 IMATA is represented as a non-governmental observer at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Dublin, Ireland. Randy Brill represents IMATA for the third time at U.S. government negotiated rulemaking meetings. 
NOV 1996 The twenty-fourth annual conference is hosted by Sea World Enterprises in Gold Coast, Australia at the ANA Hotel. This is the first IMATA conference held in the Southern Hemisphere. The keynote speaker is Michael Bryden, Dean of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. Raffle monies are donated to the Australian Koala Hospital Association. Merchant services are set up for the first time by Treasurer Rhona St. Clair Moore, allowing members to utilize credit cards for membership renewals, merchandise purchases and conference registrations. Janice Wilson is named Honors and Awards Chair. Officers for 1996 are Past President Cheryl Messinger, President Mike Scarpuzzi, President Elect Bud Krames, First Vice President Steve Romer, Second Vice President Tim Sullivan, Secretary Shelley Ballmann, Treasurer Rhona St. Clair Moore and Director Nedra Hecker. This is the first time a woman serves as Past President.
JAN 1997 The Publications Committee is created, chaired by John Kirtland, providing oversight on all IMATA publications, including conference proceedings and the membership directory. Cheryl Messinger is named Editor of Soundings. Five issues of the magazine are published this year, including a special twenty-fifth anniversary issue. Scott Klappenback is named as chair of the Animal Training Advisory Committee. Mike Rothe is named as chair of the Legislation, Information and Policy Committee.
MAY 1997 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Sea World in San Diego, California along with the third strategic planning session, facilitated by Cheryl Messinger of Dolphin Connection. “Research Briefs” debuts in Soundings. IMATA's central office moves to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois under the direction of Ken Ramirez. The Membership Committee, chaired by Beth Trzcinko, creates the first IMATA career brochure. Chris DeAngelo is named as the first Photo Librarian. Discussions concerning the creation of an IMATA website take place.
JUL 1997 “Enriching Environments” debuts in Soundings, compiled by Gail Laule.
SEP 1997 IMATA founder Sonny Allen passes away.  Learn more about this IMATA member.
OCT 1997 The twenty-fifth annual conference is hosted by the National Aquarium in Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland at the Baltimore Hilton Hotel. The keynote speaker is Dr. Marque Allen, son of founder Sonny Allen. Marque delivers Sonny’s keynote speech, which was written prior to his untimely death. Raffle monies are donated to the Marine Animal Rescue Program. The Honors and Awards Committee presents the first lifetime achievement award, titled the Sonny Allen Professional Achievement Award, to Dr. Randy Brill. See more information on this award. The committee also presents the first First Time Presenter’s award to Traci Belting of Point Defiance Zoo.  Runner-up awards are introduced in each of the trophy categories. Vice President Tim Sullivan hosts a masquerade party at the final banquet held on Halloween evening. Officers for 1997 are Past President Mike Scarpuzzi, President Bud Krames, President Elect Ted Turner, First Vice President Tim Sullivan, Second Vice President Geraldine Lacave, Secretary Shelley Ballmann, Treasurer Paula Carter and Directors Rhona St. Clair Moore and Steve Romer.
JAN 1998 The Publications Committee is disbanded. The President Elect is named editor of Conference Proceedings, the Secretary is named editor of the Membership Directory, Grey Stafford is named editor of the peer-reviewed journal Marine Mammals: Research and Public Display, and the Central Office manager, Ken Ramirez, is named editor of the Business Manual. The Soundings editor remains the same. The goal of trainer certification is explored under the direction of Ken Ramirez.
MAY 1998 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Sea World in Aurora, Ohio. The Membership Committee introduces a commercial membership category. The Finance Committee is created, chaired by Rhona St. Clair Moore.
NOV 1998 The twenty-sixth annual conference is hosted by Zoomarine in Algarve, Portugal at the Albufeiria Hotel. Keynote speaker is Ron Kastelein from the Rehabilitation Center in Harderwijk, Holland. Raffle monies are donated to an orphanage in Faro, Portugal. The second Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Ken Ramirez of Shedd Aquarium.  See more information on this award. Officers for 1998 are Past President Bud Krames, President Ted Turner, President Elect Paka Nishimura, First Vice President Geraldine Lacave, Second Vice President Greg Dye, Secretary Tom Granberry, Treasurer Paula Carter and Directors Tim Sullivan and Shelley Ballmann.
MAY 1999
The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California along with the fourth strategic planning session, facilitated by Cheryl Messinger. “Fishues” debuts in Soundings, compiled by Dan Shinder. The first European regional workshop is held.
JUN 1999 Animal Training: successful animal management through positive reinforcement by Ken Ramirez is published, utilizing materials from previous IMATA publications under special permission of the Executive Board.
DEC 1999 The twenty-seventh annual conference is co-hosted by Shedd Aquarium and Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Illinois at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Hotel. The keynote speaker is industry founding trainer Karen Pryor. This is the largest conference to date, with almost 475 delegates in attendance. Raffle monies support Canine Companions for Independence and the IMATA website fund. The third Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Cheryl Messinger of Dolphin Connection. See more information on this award. Outernet Technologies sponsors the first award of the same name, recognizing advances in the use of technology, to JoAnne Simerson of the Zoological Society of San Diego. The first job fair takes place. Officers for 1999 are Past President Ted Turner, President Paka Nishimura, President Elect Patrick Berry, First Vice President Greg Dye, Second Vice President Michelle Jeffries, Secretary Tom Granberry, Treasurer Mike Muraco and Directors Geraldine Lacave and Paula Carter. Dave Roberts is named Honors and Awards Chair for 2000.

IMATA
in the '00s

IMATA today
MAY 2000 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. IMATA makes the first step toward financial security by designating its first long-range investments. Expansion of the IMATA website is made a priority as IMATA secures its own ISP account.
SEP 2000 Cheryl Messinger represents IMATA at a consortium meeting of animal professionals hosted by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
OCT 2000 The twenty-eighth annual conference is hosted by Via Delphi in Playa del Carmen, Mexico at the Iberostar Quetzal Hotel. The keynote speaker is marine mammal veterinarian and industry founder Dr. Sam Ridgway. The fourth Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Jeff Haun of the Navy Marine Mammal Program. See more information on this award. IMATA’s total membership surpasses 1,000 individuals for the first time since 1992. Officers for 2000 are Past President Paka Nishimura, President Patrick Berry, President Elect Julie Scardina, First Vice President Michelle Jeffries, Second Vice President Michelle Campbell, Secretary Lisa Nicoll, Treasurer Mike Muraco and Directors Tom Granberry and Greg Dye. Bill Wolden is named Honors and Awards Chair for 2001.
MAY 2001
The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by EPCOT Living Seas in Orlando, Florida along with the fifth strategic planning session, facilitated by Terry Robertson of Sea World. IMATA’s Standard Guidelines for Training Programs, written by Accreditation Chair Ken Ramirez, is approved and published in Soundings.  Mark Xitco, Legislation, Information and Policy Chair, presents these standards at the next Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums meeting. The Publications Committee is reinstated, Cheryl Messinger is named Chair. The publication of IMATA’s peer reviewed journal is discontinued. A membership directory is published by Editor Meg Hudson-Dye. IMATA’s Glossary of Training and Behavioral Terms is published by Editor Scott Klappenback. Rhona St. Clair Moore is named Editor of the Business Manual. Expansion of the website continues through administrators Mike Rothe and Druann Clark. The Liaison Committee, chaired by Meg Hudson-Dye, attends the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators meeting, including an IMATA informational booth offering merchandise. Rhona St. Clair Moore, Finance Chair, develops and distributes IMATA’s first Sponsorship Packets.
OCT 2001
The twenty-ninth annual conference is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Albuquerque Hilton Hotel with no conference host facility.  Raffle monies support the Animal Humane Association of New Mexico. This is the first year that the conference program and the conference proceedings are combined into one publication. The fifth Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to William “Briz” Brisby (post humus), founder and former director of Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management Program. See more information on this award. The Honors and Awards Committee divides the Husbandry and Research Advancements award in two. The first Husbandry Training award winner is Beau Richter of Moss Landing Marine Lab. The first Research Advancements award winner is Doug Acton of Sea World Texas. Officers for 2001 are Past President Patrick Berry, President Julie Scardina, President Elect Greg Dye, First Vice President Michelle Campbell, Second Vice President Al Kordowski, Third Vice President Kirstin Anderson, Secretary Lisa Nicoll, Treasurer Kathy Taht and Directors Mike Muraco and Michelle Jeffries. This is the first time the position of Third Vice President is filled. Patrick Berry is named Soundings Editor for 2002.
NOV 2001 “Back to Basics” debuts in Soundings.
APR 2002 The first South Central regional workshop is hosted by The Aquarium at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas.
MAY 2002
The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois. Michael Hunt is named Proceedings Editor. The growth and expansion of the website continues.
NOV 2002 The thirtieth annual conference is hosted by Sea World in Orlando, Florida at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. The keynote speaker is Columbus Zoo Director Emeritus Jack Hanna. Raffle monies support Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. This is the largest conference to date, with over 550 delegates attending. Officers for 2002 are Past President Julie Scardina, President Greg Dye, President Elect Scott Klappenback, First Vice President Al Kordowski, Second Vice President Billy Hurley, Third Vice President Kirstin Andersen, Secretary Barb Losch, Treasurer Kathy Taht and Directors Lisa Nicoll and Michelle Campbell. Mark Todd and Chris Davis are named co-chairs of the Animal Training Advisory Committee for 2003.
MAY 2003 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois along with the sixth strategic planning session, facilitated by Tom Otten of SAIC BioSolutions. As the next step in the accreditation process, Chair Ken Ramirez develops a “Basics of Animal Training” course to be sponsored by IMATA prior to the next conference. Kathy Taht is named Business Manual Editor.
NOV 2003 The thirty-first annual conference is hosted by Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The keynote speaker is marine mammal researcher Dr. Randy Wells. Raffle monies support the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort McArthur. The first IMATA sanctioned training seminars are held prior to the conference, taught by Ken Ramirez. This is the first year that expanded abstracts are published in the conference proceedings. The sixth Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is given to John Kirtland of the Center for Elephant Conservation. See more information on this award. Officers for 2003 are Past President Greg Dye, President Scott Klappenback, President Elect Renato Lenzi, First Vice President Billy Hurley, Second Vice President Kirstin Anderson, Third Vice President Sue Negrini, Secretary Barb Losch, Treasurer Shelley Ballmann and Directors Kathy Taht and Al Kordowski. Michelle Reddy is named Publications Chair for 2004.
MAY 2004 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. The IMATA library is transferred from the Indianapolis Zoo to the Central Office in Chicago, Illinois. John Kirtland passes away. Learn more about this IMATA member.
OCT 2004 The thrity-second annual conference is hosted by Kolmarden Zoo in Kolmarden, Sweden at the Vildmarks Hotel. The keynote speaker is space shuttle astronaut and veterinarian Dr. Rick Linnehan. Raffle monies support the Kolmarden Wolf Project. Accreditation Chair Ken Ramirez offers two pre-conference seminars, one basic and one advanced. The first live auction takes place, led by Billy Hurley and Bill Wolden. The first Editor's Choice Award, sponsored by Dolphin Connection, is created to encourage well-written abstracts in the new expanded format. The winners are Debi Colbert and Joe Gaspard of Mote Marine Lab. Officers for 2004 are Past President Scott Klappenback, President Renato Lenzi, President Elect Rhona St. Clair Moore, First Vice President Kirstin Anderson, Second Vice President Sue Negrini, Third Vice President Lindsay Rubincam, Secretary Debi Colbert, Treasurer Shelley Ballmann and Directors Billy Hurley and Barb Losch.
MAY 2005 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois along with the seventh strategic planning session, facilitated by Angela Bandy of Sea World. The Education Committee, chaired by Paula Flanagan, debuts the first IMATA informational poster. The Publications Committee is once again disbanded. The International Marine Animal Trainers' Association (IMATA) formalized its position on drive fisheries. The statement is clear:  IMATA strongly opposes the mass slaughter of whales and dolphins that occur in drive fisheries, and is dedicated to advancing humane care of marine animals in zoological settings.  A formal position was put in print on the website July 2013. Read the full statement.
NOV 2005 The thirty-third annual conference is hosted by Dolphin Connection in Duck Key, Florida at Hawks Cay Resort. The keynote speaker is animal ambassador Julie Scardina. Raffle monies support the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership, but auction monies are not included this year, instead supporting Hurricane Katrina relief. Wyland joins IMATA’s hurricane relief effort, raising money by auctioning paintings he creates live, and IMATA provides a matching donation. A new IMATA logo, a modernized version of the original, is designed and debuted by Brian and Becky Masuga of Lunar Cow. The first conference game show, the Fish Bowl Challenge, debuted as a Jeopardy style game co-hosted by Michael Hunt and Traci Belting. Following the death of John Kirtland, the Honors and Awards Committee presents the first John Kirtland Award of Dedication, established to recognize outstanding contributions to IMATA, to Shedd Aquarium for their service as the IMATA Central Office. See more information on this award. The seventh Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is given to Dr. Jay Sweeney of Dolphin Quest. See more information on this award. The Advisory Committee is created. Officers for 2005 are Past President Renato Lenzi, President Rhona St. Clair Moore, President Elect Al Kordowski, First Vice President Sue Negrini, Second Vice President Lindsay Rubincam, Third Vice President Dave Roberts, Secretary Debi Colbert, Treasurer Traci Belting and Director Shelley Ballmann. Joe Gaspard is named Proceedings Editor for 2006.
JAN 2006 IMATA founding member Vic Charfauros passes away this year. Learn more about this IMATA member.
MAY 2006 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Sea World in Orlando, Florida. The IMATA branding package is introduced by Bill Wolden and Rhona St. Clair Moore, including new banners, animated logo and accompanying collateral designed by Brian and Becky Masuga of Lunar Cow. The IMATA website features a live forum for members, moderated in the first year by Rich Biosvert, Michael Hunt and Valerie Teets. The International Services Committee is created, chaired by Renato Lenzi of Dolphin Discovery. Bylaws amendments presented by Mark Xitco, Legislation, Information and Policy Committee Chair, are successfully ratified by the membership. The idea for IMATA’s accreditation process transitions from accrediting individual members to accrediting facility trainer training programs. IMATA retains the services of financial advisor William Hurley of Legacy Advisors to manage long-range investments for the organization.
NOV 2006 The thirty-fourth annual conference is hosted by Dolphin Quest in Oahu, Hawaii at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Three invited speakers replace the traditional keynote address – Thad Lacinak, Ken Ramirez, and Dr. Lou Herman. Raffle monies support the Pacific Marine Life Foundation. Translation services are provided in both Spanish and Japanese. Officers for 2006 are Past President Rhona St. Clair Moore, President Al Kordowski, President Elect Billy Hurley, First Vice President Lindsay Rubincam, Second Vice President Dave Roberts, Third Vice President Andrew Scullion, Secretary Michael Hunt, Treasurer Traci Belting and Director Debi Colbert. Rhona St. Clair Moore is named Website Editor for 2007.
JAN 2007 IMATA offers a “web-only” membership, titled Web Affiliate. Student level member benefits change - no longer receiving printed publications but given access to publications electronically on IMATA’s website. Student level members are now permitted to serve on committees. Associate level membership dues increase. Lunar Cow takes over production of Soundings.
MAY 2007
The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by the Dolphin Conservation Center in Marineland, Florida. The Research and Conservation Committee is created, chaired by Debi Colbert. The Animal Training Advisory Committee, chaired by Chris Davis and Chuck Tompkins, begin posting video examples for terms found in the IMATA Glossary to the website. Cheryl Messinger is named Historian. The Historian position had been empty since Kayce Cover had held the position in the early 1990s.
NOV 2007 The thirty-fifth annual conference is hosted by the Indianapolis Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Three invited speakers are featured – Rick Linnehan, Dr. Todd Robeck, and Brad Andrews. Live satellite links are used to present live training demonstrations from Shedd Aquarium, EPCOT Living Seas and Sea World San Diego. Raffle monies support the Marine Mammal Stranding Program at the University of North Carolina. IMATA sponsors the journal Aquatic Mammals and all IMATA Professional and Active level members are provided complimentary access to the journal electronically. Officers for 2007 are Past President Al Kordowski, President Billy Hurley, President Elect Shelley Ballmann, First Vice President Dave Roberts, Second Vice President Andrew Scullion, Third Vice President Mike Osborn, Secretary Michael Hunt, Treasurer Joe Gaspard and Director Traci Belting. Billy Hurley is named Accreditation Committee Chair and Sunna Edberg is named International Services Chair for 2008.
MAY 2008 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Oceans of Fun in Milwaukee, Wisconsin along with the eighth strategic planning session, facilitated by Bill Wolden of Dolphin Quest. IMATA membership exceeds 1,300 individuals.
OCT 2008 A new IMATA website is created and launched by Brian and Becky Masuga of Lunar Cow. 
NOV 2008 The thirty-sixth annual conference is hosted by Dolphin Discovery in Cancun, Mexico at the Cancun Omni Resort. Two invited speakers are Dr. Gregg Bossart and Scott Klappenback. The proceedings for this conference are the first IMATA publication to appear on the website in an interactive magazine style, produced by Lunar Cow. Raffle monies support the Little Yellow School House and the Yucatan Manatee Research Project. Officers for 2008 are Past President Billy Hurley, President Shelley Ballmann, President Elect Michael Hunt, First Vice President Andrew Scullion, Second Vice President Mike Osborn, Third Vice President Eric Gaglione, Secretary Shelley Wood, Treasurer Joe Gaspard. Mike Poole is named Honors and Awards Chair. The Publications Committee is reinstated for 2009, with Patrick Berry named as Chair.  Dave Roberts is named Policy Manual Editor, Cheryl Messinger is named Index Editor, Beau Richter is named Website Editor and Heather Keenan is named Proceedings Editor for 2009.
MAR 2009 Shelley Ballman, Traci Belting, Dennis Christen and Brett Long, representing IMATA, meet with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials to determine if IMATA can assist in developing a strategy to influence the behavior of wild sea lions impacting threatened and endangered salmon species at the Bonneville Dam.
MAY 2009 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Sea World in Orlando, Florida. IMATA launches its Facebook page, monitored by Mike Poole and Michael Hunt, and reaches 1,800 fans in the first five months. Electronic issues of Soundings are now able to be digitally translated into 38 different languages via the IMATA website. IMATA membership totals over 1,400 individuals.
AUG 2009
IMATA founding member Bruce Stephens passes away. Learn more about this IMATA member.
NOV 2009 The thirty-seventh annual conference is hosted by Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The keynote address is given by motivational speaker Randy Prazen. Raffle monies support Zoo to You Conservation Ambassadors. Game show “Trainer Feud”, modeled after Family Feud, is hosted by Michael Hunt. All IMATA publications, including a searchable index, are posted to the website by Historian Cheryl Messinger. The first facility to be accredited by IMATA, Dolphin Encounters, receives their Accreditation Award. Officers for 2009 are Past President Shelley Ballmann, President Michael Hunt, President Elect Dave Roberts, First Vice President Mike Osborn, Second Vice President Eric Gaglione, Third Vice President Bill Wolden, Secretary Shelley Wood, Treasurer Joe Gaspard and Director Chris Davis.
FEB 2010 IMATA’s first female officer Jayne Shannon Rodriguez passes away. Learn more about this IMATA member.
MAY 2010 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Sea World in San Diego, California. The Georgia Aquarium, Dolphin Quest and Dolphin Cove participate in an IMATA presentation given at the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine conference. Havana, Cuba hosts its first IMATA regional workshop.
DEC 2010 The thirty-eighth annual conference is hosted by New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts at the Seaport Hotel. The keynote speaker is researcher Dr. Brandon Southall. Raffle monies support the IMATA Conservation and Research Fund. Live remote training sessions take place featuring Ocean Park Hong Kong, Alaska Sea Life Center, and Sea World San Diego. Trainer Feud II is hosted by Michael Hunt. The eighth Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is given to Jayne (post humus) and Mandy Rodriguez of the Dolphin Research Center. See more information on this award. The second John Kirtland Award of Dedication is given to Patrick Berry in recognition of his long service as Soundings editor. See more information on this award. IMATA Accredited training programs for 2010 are Dolphin Discovery Cancun, Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres, Dolphin Discovery Puerto Aventuras, Mystic Aquarium and Dolphin Connection. Officers for 2010 are Past President Michael Hunt, President Dave Roberts, President Elect Mike Osborn, First Vice President Eric Gaglione, Second Vice President Bill Wolden, Third Vice President Grant Abel, Secretary Laura Yeates, Treasurer Chris Davis and Director Shelley Wood.
MAY 2011 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Mystic Marinelife Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut. A new membership level, Friends of IMATA, is created. The Organizational membership category now requires IMATA accreditation. Job fair tables are now offered free of charge. IMATA establishes a research grant and a conservation fund award. IMATA promotes donations to a relief fund for colleagues in Japan impacted by the tsunami.
SEP 2011
The thirty-ninth annual conference is hosted by Miami Seaquarium in Miami, Florida at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.  Artist Wyland is the keynote speaker.  Five opening videos are featured, one for each day, produced by Bill Wolden. Raffle monies support the IMATA Conservation and Research Fund. Traci Belting hosts the $25,000 IMATA Pyramid game show. A new essay contest is introduced with a free conference registration as the prize. Three formal presentations are offered in their native languages including Spanish, French and Chinese. Facilities receiving IMATA Accreditation are Dolphin Discovery Cayman, Dolphin Discovery Cozumel, Dolphin Discovery Six Flags, Oceans of Fun and Discovery Cove. The ninth Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is given to Julie Scardina of Sea World. See more information on this award. Officers for 2011 are Past President Dave Roberts, President Mike Osborn, President Elect Shelley Wood, First Vice President Bill Wolden, Second Vice President Grant Abel, Third Vice President Michelle Sousa, Secretary Laura Yeates, Treasurer Patty Schilling and Director Chris Davis.
MAY 2012 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Dolphin Discovery in Cancun, Mexico. 
DEC 2012 The fortieth annual conference is hosted by Ocean Park in Hong Kong, China at the L'hotel Nina et Convention Center at Tseun Wan, the first time an IMATA conference is hosted in Asia. The conference theme is “Connect to Conserve”. The conference is attended by over 400 delegates representing more than 100 facilities from 38 countries. The first Conservation Fund award is given to the Wuhan Baiji Conservation Foundation to support efforts with the Yangtze finless porpoise. Nedra Hecker received the third John Kirtland Award of Dedication in recognition of her 40+ years of service in numerous offices and committees to IMATA. See more information on this award. Officers for 2012 are Past President Mike Osborn, President Shelley Wood, President Elect Eric Gaglione, First Vice President Grant Abel, Second Vice President Michele Sousa, Third Vice President Kelly Flaherty Clark, Secretary Jennifer Leach, Treasurer Patty Schilling and Director Laura Yeates. 
MAY 2013 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
JUN 2013 IMATA became an AZA learning partner.
SEP 2013 The forty-first annual conference is hosted by Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Keynote speaker was Dr. Susan Friedman of the psychology department at Utah State University. Facilities receiving IMATA accreditation are Atlantis, Brookfield Zoo, Delphinus Dreams Cancun, Delphinus Riviera Maya, Dolphin Quest Bermuda, Dolphin Quest Hawaii, Gulfarium, and Shedd Aquarium. Officers for 2013 are Past President Shelley Wood, President Eric Gaglione, President Elect Bill Wolden, First Vice President Michele Sousa, Second Vice President Kelly Flaherty Clark, Third Vice President Teri Corbett, Secretary Jennifer Leach, Treasurer Robert Roozendaal and Past Treasurer Patty Schilling.
APR 2014 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is held in San Diego, California.
SEP 2014

The forty-second annual conference is a joint conference with Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), hosted by SeaWorld Orlando, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Disney's Animal Kingdom at Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida.  Keynote speaker was Dr. Cristian Samper of the Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, NY.  Almost 3,000 individuals are in attendance with full access to all AZA and IMATA sessions.  Raffle monies support the IMATA Conservation and Research Fund. Michael Hunt hosts a revival of the Jeopardy! game show.  Facilities receiving IMATA accreditation are Dolphin Discovery Costa Maya, Dolphin Discovery Moon Palace, Dolphin Discovery Tortola, Dolphin Research Center, Dolphin Quest Oahu, Georgia Aquarium, Miami Seaquarium, SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, Tampereen Sarkanniemi Oy, Theater of the Sea, Virginia Aquarium. The SAIC Art Contest is renamed the Coll Perske Photo and Art Contest. Learn more about this IMATA member.  The tenth Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is given to Pedro Lavia of ZooMarine, who is the first international recipient.  See more information on this award. IMATA introduced facility passes a fantastic benefit for all current Associate, Active, and Professional IMATA members. This program provides our members various discounts, access opportunities, and other perks at participating marine animal facilities around the world. Learn more about Facility Pass benefits and participating organizations. Officers for 2014 are Past President Eric Gaglione, President Bill Wolden, President Elect Linda Erb, First Vice President Kelly Flaherty Clark, Second Vice President Teri Corbett, Third Vice President Suzanne Smith, Secretary Alex Mata, Treasurer Robert Roozendaal and Past Secretary Jennifer Leach.

MAY 2015 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Dolphin Discovery at Dreams Resort & Spa in Puerto Adventuras, Mexico. Nedra Hecker takes over the position of Historian from Cheryl Messinger.
SEP 2015 The forty-third annual conference is hosted by Dolphin Cay, Atlantis in the Bahamas. The Keynote Speaker was Brad Andrews, Chief Zoological Officer for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. IMATA Research Grant & Conservation Fund was the recipient of the 2015 IMATA Raffle and Dolphin Encounters Facility Interactions donation for $5,096! Facilities receiving IMATA accreditation  since the last conference are SeaWorld San Diego, Dolphin Discovery Puerto Vallarta, Minnesota Zoo, Dolphin Discovery Playa del Carmen, and Dolphin Encounters, Bahamas (reaccredited). The 11th Sonny Allen Lifetime Achievement Award is given to Mike Woods of Dolphin Discovery.  See more information on this award. Officers elected for 2016 are Past President Linda Erb, President Michele Sousa, President Elect Grey Stafford, First Vice President Suzanne Smith, Second Vice President Jennifer Pletcher, Third Vice President Will Elgar, Treasurer Rita Stacey, Secretary Amanda Barra, and Director-at-Large Alex Mata. This was the first conference to be under a hurricane warning as a result of Category Four Hurricane Joaquin stalling out for a time over the Bahamas.
JAN 2016 The IMATA Central Office moves from its previous home in Chicago, Illinois, USA to San Diego, California, USA.
APR 2016 The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Hubbs SeaWorld San Diego, California. The officers of First and Second vice Presidents are exchanged, with First Vice President now Jennifer Pletcher and Suzanne Smith, Second Vice President, so that they each can handle the conference closest to their location. The IMATA leadership team now encompasses 35 different positions including board members, committee chairs, and advisors.
MAY 2016 IMATA submitted responses to the proposed USDA/APHIS rule making changes to the Animal Welfare Act. Read IMATA's response.
OCT 2016 IMATA responded to TripAdvisors decision to withdraw support of facilities housing marine mammals. Read IMATA's response.
NOV 2016 The forty-fourth annual conference was hosted by SeaWorld San Diego in San Diego, California. The Keynote Speaker was Julie Scardina. There were several Invited Speakers, Ken Ramirez and Mark Simmons, along with a current events panel involving Dr. Christopher Dold, Dr. Kelly Jaakkola, Dr. Grey Stafford, and Dr. Barbara Taylor, and a K-9 demonstration by (our own) Deputy Scott Klappenback and others of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Board Directors elected for 2017 are Past President Michele Sousa, President Grey Stafford, President Elect Dwayne Biggs, First Vice President Suzanne Smith, Second Vice President Peter Giljam, Third Vice President Will Elgar, Treasurer Sarah Bignac, Secretary Erin Wise, and Director-at-Large Rita Stacey. Sadly President Elect Raul Novelo passed away from a sudden illness and his position was filled temporarily by the board by Dwayne Biggs, he will be voted on by the membership in the next election. Secretary Amanda Barra stepped aside from her position; it was assumed by Erin Wise. In the two days preceding the conference, the Board held its annual meeting, discussing committee activities since the mid-year. Work will be going forward to upgrade the infrastructure of the website and membership databases. Facilities receiving accreditation or reaccreditation were Dolphin Discovery, Grand Cayman; Dolphin Discovery, Akumal; Dolphin Discovery, St. Kitts; Mystic Aquarium; Delphinus Puerto Morelos; and Marineland Dolphin Adventure.
The conference attendees numbered 550 representing 28 countries.
MAR 2017 IMATA ran its first go-fund-me campaign to help secure the future of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus). IMATA matched the first $5,000 raised and will be donating $15,930.83 to USA's National Marine Fisheries Service's efforts to save this species from extinction.
APR 2017 Billy Hurley was hired as the first Executive Director of IMATA. The position was created to provide continuity for IMATA in four (4) critical areas; changing leadership at the board level, consistent representation of IMATA at like-minded organizations,  voicing IMATA's position through public relations, and in overseeing organizational growth.
APR 2017 The mid-year board meeting was held in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.

 


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