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Group discussion at a table

The ideas were flowing—and so was the coffee!

The Aquarium Project is off to a running (or shall we say swimming?) start! On Thursday morning, we invited a group of community representatives from all walks of life to join us at the Viera Holiday Inn for our first Strategic Doing session.

Executive director Keith Winsten kicked things off by communicating the ecological, economic and social successes of the Zoo over the past quarter-century. He emphasized that the Zoo is one of just a handful of not-for-profit, AZA-accredited facilities that does not receive any recurring government operating funds; instead, we rely heavily on earned income from admissions, animal feedings, kayak tours and other mission-based experiences to support our animal wellness, conservation and education initiatives. This entrepreneurial approach has proven successful and sustainable, and it would carry over to the proposed aquarium and conservation center in Port Canaveral.

Winsten handed the microphone over to consultant Lisa Rice, who introduced the concept of Strategic Doing. This process involves leveraging the skills, networks and contacts of a large group of people to achieve a common goal. Rice considers herself a Strategic Doing “cheerleader,” having utilized it to great success for many other organizations.

Each table drilled down into one of five themes—communications, community engagement, organization, fundraising and political influence—and attendees chose to sit at the table that best aligned with their expertise and interest. They then brainstormed strategies that could benefit the Aquarium Project, determined which strategies would be most feasible and effective, and assigned responsibilities to each attendee.

We walked away with hundreds of actions that could help bring the aquarium and conservation center to life. These actions are being compiled into a master document to be made public in the coming weeks. The next Strategic Doing session is scheduled for November.

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