• jademblock

RAW 2019: RSVP for the Olentangy

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

Aquatic Exhibits International is partnering with the 2019 Regional Aquatics Workshop (RAW) to plan a day of volunteerism with a local habitat restoration group near the conference venue.

In case you missed it, I published a blog post last week on our website about alternatives to disposable conference swag in the zoo and aquarium world.

I expected a few inspired individuals to give it a balmy thumbs up, so you might imagine my surprise when our article reached nearly a thousand people. We gathered hundreds of comments, and saw a few really interesting conversations spring up around the merits and pitfalls of vendor giveaways.

If I was still on the fence about interest in this greener approach to swag, this week ended the doubt, because the 2019 RAW organizers have endorsed a new tradition: to volunteer with us for a local environmental group!

! mean, ultimately, this was our goal - to get people involved. And I think we made a valid point about “walking the talk” of our industry's environmental rhetoric.

Now, I am excited to announce that we will be volunteering for the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW).

FLOW was formed as a community non-profit in 1997. They sponsor invasive species removals, river cleanups, tree plantings, and a stream quality monitoring program, and are also working on a comprehensive green space plan - including a GIS database, which will provide an important tool for education, regional planning, and sustainability research.

The Olentangy (OH lehn TANGE ee):

The Olentangy River watershed is part of a freshwater ecoregion considered to be globally outstanding because of the sheer number of aquatic species found within it: 206 native fish species, 122 unionid mussel species, 49 species of crayfish, and 60 native species of amphibians and aquatic reptiles.

The diversity in this region is the result of upland and lowland habitats and the presence of both glaciated and unglaciated stream systems: 12% of the fish, 14% of the mussels, 47% of crayfish, and 5% of the reptiles and amphibians are restricted to this ecoregion and found nowhere else (Abell, Olson, Dinerstein, et al., 2000).

FLOW is excited to have so many aquarium professionals nearby. They are interested in setting up a special activity for RAW attendees that goes beyond the general public volunteer experience, to make use of our group’s specific aquatic expertise.


My dog Stella doesn't seem to mind snowmageddon.

In the middle of this Seattle #snowmageddon, I can’t help but use the analogy of a snowball effect: I hope this momentum creates useful change... or at least makes us consider our own impact on the environment that we work so hard to protect.

Our first order of business is to help FLOW estimate the number of aquarium professionals who may want to join us! RAW has grown substantially since its early stages, and is now boasting attendance numbers around 400. And I really don’t want to RSVP for 400 people and then show up with 17.


We hope to host the volunteer event with FLOW on Friday, May 17th, after RAW sessions end at 1pm.


Please share this form with any individuals at your facility who are attending RAW in 2019. Your RSVP will help us estimate interest and accommodate all participants.



Freshwater Ecoregions of North America. A Conservation Assessment: R.A. Abell, D.M. Olson, E. Dinerstein, P.T. Hurley et al. (WWF), Island Press, Washington, DC, 2000.

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