J. Kirtland Award
To honor one of our founding ABMA members, John Kirtland, we are pleased to announce an award in his name.

The John M. Kirtland, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to an individual who has demonstrated special achievement in the field of behavior management, by setting a new standard for animal welfare.  The recipient of this award knows the importance of sharing their knowledge, insight, and passion.  They do so through publications and presentations and also by providing support and mentoring for tomorrow’s industry leaders.

The John M. Kirtland, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award will be given only when there is a qualified nomination, it will not necessarily be a yearly award.  The award recipient must embody the spirit of the award.  In order to nominate a candidate for the award, the nominator must develop a written proposal stating how the candidate has helped animal welfare, educated peers by sharing their knowledge, and how they have provided mentoring and support.  The nominator must also get five signatures in support of their nomination.  The signatures must be from the following organization members:  one present board member, one present program council member, one past or present board member, and two members in good standing.  The completed nomination form must be submitted by June 15th of the year prior to the conference.  This will allow the Board of Directors to discuss all candidates and decide on the honoree during the midyear meeting (in October), so the award can be presented at the annual conference (in the spring).

Submit the John M. Kirtland, Jr Lifetime Achievement Award nomination form. 

Steve Martin, 2019 Award Recipient

In 1984 Steve Martin began teaching animal keepers the art and science of behavior change to enhance the husbandry, enrichment, and behavioral management of exhibit animals.

Steve’s training experience includes hundreds of species of birds and mammals. He is a Trustee with the World Parrot Trust, served for 12 years as a Core Team Member of The California Condor Recovery Team, and has served as a behavior consultant for the Hawaiian Crow and Hawaiian Hawk conservation projects. Steve serves on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Animal Welfare Committee and teaches AZA animal training workshops. He is an organizational team member and instructor for the RECON: Reconnecting with Elephants in Protected Contact Workshop. He is also the founder of IAATE (International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators) and has served as its President multiple times. Steve spends approximately 200 days a year traveling to zoological facilities around the world serving as a behavior and visitor experience consultant, or producing educational animal programs. He has now worked at over 120 zoological facilities in more than 20 different countries. Steve has been certified as a professional bird trainer (CPBT-KA) by the International Avian Trainers Certification Board and is a Certified Avian Behavior Consultant.

Steve is known for his commitment to conservation and education. He is President of Natural Encounters, Inc. (NEI), a company of over 50 professional animal trainers with a goal to engage, inspire, and empower audiences and animal professionals all over the world by teaching the art of training and the science of behavior change.  He founded, and is the President of, the Natural Encounters Conservation Fund (NECF), which has now raised and donated over 1.3 million dollars to in situ conservation programs around the world. Each show he produces has a strong conservation education message.

From an ABMA standpoint, Steve has spoken at multiple conferences over the years in both regular speaker slots, as well as extended speaker slots.  In 2017, he won the ABMA Sharing the Knowledge Award for his paper on “Top 10 Behaviors of an Expert Animal Trainer”.  He has served on our Expert panel for Professional Development (formerly Career) Night.  He is approachable and always willing to engage in discussion whenever presented with the opportunity regardless of experience levels.