June 7 - 8, 2019
Since in existence, AES has traveled its annual in-person board meeting among various directors’ homes. As our board grows, having our meeting in any one home is becoming more complicated and so earlier in the year, President Linda Reifschneider suggested we start selecting our annual meeting site to coincide with the location of one of the several zoos that have been consistent supporters of our work. This would provide an opportunity to say "thank you" in person for that institution’s support. As director Christine Del Turco would be visiting friends in the Cincinnati area around our annual meeting dates, she suggested Cincinnati Zoo. That was a solid choice as we have benefited for multiple years from their zoo’s fundraising for Asian elephant conservation with their behind-the-scenes-tours in their elephant barn.
Linda reached out to Cecil Jackson,Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Elephant Manager, and while he would be out of town on our meeting dates, he was delighted we had selected Cincinnati Zoo and Val Nastold, Jr. would take care of us. Our idea was simply to say "thank you" in person and Linda would treat the board and barn crew to dinner. (Funds donated to AES are used only for projects that benefit Asian elephants and those who care for and/or must live their lives among the elephants.) Val and the Cincinnati crew had other ideas! 😊
Val helped set up our lodging reservations to ensure we were close to the zoo. He also secured a conference room on zoo grounds for the two days of our meeting; saw that we benefited from the staff’s 50% discount at the cafeteria at lunch; gave us a wonderful visit to their barn (always a very special time for all the AES board); set up a meet and greet for zoo staff and volunteers; and, with Friday night just happening to be the Zoo’s “Zoo La La” gala, secured an attendance lanyard for each board member. Talk about Friday evening dinner! The weather was resort quality, the food, and drinks were excellent, and delightful entertainment made for an unexpected and most humbly appreciated ‘perk’ we certainly never expected.
Saturday night, Linda finally got to treat AES board and Cincinnati Zoo elephant barn team to dinner at A Taste of Denmark. And what a fitting venue for we ‘elephant folk’ – their signature brew, Delerium has a logo of a pink elephant and the stem is shaped to represent an elephant’s trunk!
Of course we visited the gift shop for a remembrance of this special year’s annual meeting location and gifted each elephant crew member with an AES tee shirt.
Not only did we have a productive board meeting, we had the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ in person to those who care for and about Asian elephants passionately – and the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company in a social setting.
Thank you, Cincinnati! We came to say thank you; we leave also saying thank you – Val, you sure did set that bar ‘way up there’! THANK YOU!!!