"I have galaxy brain right now. This is just opening up so much for me.”

AvOCET 2023 is a virtual gathering space for bird behavior, training, education, and conservation enthusiasts. With internationally featured renowned speakers, paper submissions, panel discussions, and breakout rooms, the conference is designed to foster challenging ideas and thoughtful discussion, give attendees access to incredible minds in academia and animal care, and keep our community engaged with and feeling inspired by the latest work in the field and laboratory

Such a fantastic conference!!! Loved every minute of it!



Hillary Hankey

Owner and founder of Avian Behavior International & the Avian Behavior Lab 

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Hillary Hankey is a bird behavior and training expert based in Southern California. With a strong background in free flight training and companion parrot behavior consulting, she combines her love of adventure and understanding of animal behavior with a strong desire to connect humans and animals with complex topics such as nuanced education programs. Hillary has worked for and consulted with zoos, education organizations, and leadership programs and continues to educate through her podcast and online eduction program, The Avian Behavior Lab.

Barbara Heidenreich 

Animal Training Consultant Specializing in Exotic Animals

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Barbara Heidenreich is an animal training consultant specializing in exotic animals. She consults worldwide working with zoos, universities, veterinary professionals, and conservation projects. She has worked onsite with over 80 facilities in 27 countries. She is an adjunct instructor at Texas A&M University. She has authored two books and contributed to four veterinary textbooks. She is a co-author of two Fear Free Avian Certification Courses. Much of her work focuses on training exotic species to cooperate in medical care. She operates the online education program Animal Training Fundamentals. 

Dr. Lucy Kemp

Project Manager, Mabula Ground Hornbill Project 

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Dr. Lucy Kemp is the project manager for the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project. Her main interest is how to take sound scientific evidence and use that to formulate on-the-ground conservation action, that considers socio-economic realities, cultural sensitivities, and conservation biology. Now as a professional conservation biologist she feels that this flagship species is an excellent candidate for testing conservation tools and connecting people throughout Southern Africa through a common conservation interest, and growing love for this icon of our savannahs. The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project aims to slow and reverse the decline of the Endangered Southern Ground Hornbill, in South Africa. 

Dr. M Scott Echols

Board-certified Avian Specialist Veterinarian

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Dr. M Scott Echols is a board-certified avian specialist veterinarian. Dr. Echols is an internationally recognized author, speaker, researcher, adjunct professor, visiting professor, and practitioner.  His artwork has been featured on several magazine covers and in numerous galleries in the US, Europe, and other locations. Awards include Recipient of the TJ Lafeber Avian Practitioner of the Year Award, 2005; Recipient of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association 2007 Non-Traditional Species Practitioner of the Year Award; Wellcome Images Award 2017 Finalist and Texas A&M 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award.  Dr. Echols has numerous inventions in the field of imaging which are currently being used in animal and human medicine.  Dr. Echols splits his time between private practice, research, education, and outdoor activities.

Kerri Wolter 

Founder & CEO of VulPro 

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Kerri is the founder and CEO of VulPro and manages the organization in a holistic manner incorporating both conservation and business management practices. Kerri is a qualified para-veterinarian, filling a key role in such an extremely sensitive environment where high veterinary standards are necessary, ensuring that the wellbeing of the vultures is always kept at the forefront of any work VulPro undertakes, this project being no exception.Kerri has conducted and contributed to various impactful research projects across the world, including over 40 peer-reviewed publications. Kerri has also spearheaded and co-authored the first breeding protocol for Cape Vultures and the first-ever vulture rehabilitation manual, aimed explicitly at conservation. In recognition of Kerri’s work over the years, she has received numerous awards, both nationally and internationally, including being shortlisted for the Tusk Trust’s Conservation Award, with Prince William as their patron. The latest recognition of her hard work culminated in being nominated for the Indianapolis Prize 2023, an award acknowledging and celebrating conservationists at the forefront of their field. 

Sean Will & Maasa Nishimuta

Founders of the Constructional Approach to Animal Welfare and Training (CAAWT)

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Sean and Maasa, both with graduate degrees from Jesús Rosales-Ruiz’s Behavior Analysis program at the University of North Texas, are the founders of the Constructional Approach to Animal Welfare and Training (CAAWT). They have a membership, ( caawt.com ), a non-profit to provide educational content on animal behavior, care, and ways to solve behavioral problems, a podcast, and an annual conference.

Mary Hunter

Consultant, Behaviorexplorer.com

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Mary Hunter consults with people and their pets, working mainly with dogs and horses. In addition, Mary teaches online courses through Behavior Explorer for professional animal trainers and others interested in the science of behavior.

Such a fantastic few days! Learned so much!



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