Keynote Speakers

We are excited to announce that the 2011 National AAZK Conference will be graced by two local conservationists as our keynote speakers:
Joan Embery and Julie Scardina.


Joan Embery has served as a champion of environmental and conservation issues around the world, most notably as spokeswoman for the Zoological Society of San Diego.  She has had the opportunity to express her passion for animals with a multitude of audiences from youth to veterinary students to corporate executives.  Her work includes hundreds of television shows as diverse as “The Tonight Show,”  “CBS This Morning,” PBS programs, “Hollywood Squares,” “Mr. Rogers,” “Entertainment Tonight” and her own syndicated series “Animal Express and “Animals of Africa.”

In addition to her many public appearances, Joan has led wildlife expeditions to such exotic locales as Africa, China, Nepal, India, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Thailand and the Amazon and has authored several booksAs a dedicated animal and environmental advocate, Joan spends her time working with wildlife organizations and educating the public.  She serves on many boards focusing on conservation and wildlife issues.

A San Diego native, Joan studied zoology and telecommunications and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication.   While Joan is most well known for her work with exotic animals, she is also an accomplished horsewoman, having won trophies in almost every discipline from dressage to cutting and driving to jumping. She lives on a 50-acre ranch in Lakeside, California with her husband Duane Pillsbury where she has raised and trained Quarter horses, Miniature horses, Lipizzans, Warmbloods, Mules, Clydesdales, Percherons, and her California State Grand Champion Brahman Bull, Bruiser.  She also manages a community equestrian facility.

In 2004 Joan created her own non-profit foundation, The Embery Institute for Wildlife Conservation, with the mission of connecting people to wildlife and conservation issues and the role each individual plays in insuring healthy environments.

Joan enjoys speaking with audiences about wildlife and the environment.  She shares her experiences and passion for animals with personal accounts and anecdotes.  She maintains a collection of wildlife ambassadors that travel with her representing the animal world and helping to educate her audiences.

Julie Scardina began her career training and swimming with Shamu the killer whale, as well as dolphins, sea lions, walruses and many other species. Now as SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove Animal Ambassador and Corporate Curator of Animal Training for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Julie shares her knowledge, animal training expertise, life-long love of animals and the parks’ commitment to wildlife education and conservation with employees as well as audiences ranging from children in classrooms to millions of viewers on national television.

Julie serves on the board of the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund supporting conservation education, habitat protection, species research and animal rescue and rehabilitation. In this role she often has the opportunity to travel to conservation and environmental projects around the world experiencing conservation work first hand while meeting the scientists and other dedicated people making a difference.           Julie is actively involved with several other conservation organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, where she serves on the National Council. Julie mentors up-and-coming leaders in conservation as a board member with the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program and recently served on the National Forum on Children and Nature spearheaded by The Conservation Fund.

Julie often hosts the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens productions of “Saving a Species,” an entertaining and educational look into how animals are faring on the planet. She is a monthly guest on NBC’s “Today,” and continues to appear as a long time regular guest on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”  Julie has also appeared on such shows as CNN’s “Larry King Live,” “Dr. Oz,” and countless news and radio shows. She appeared for many years on animal personality Jack Hanna’s show “Animal Adventures.

Julie also serves as Corporate Director of Animal Ambassador Programs for the SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove Parks. In this position, Julie works hand-in-hand with trainers at each park to evaluate and train animals and people for educational and media appearances.

Julie graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in biology from San Diego State University.