UNT student organization to host 6 animal training experts March 20

Monday, March 2, 2009

DENTON (UNT), Texas – A student organization at the University of North Texas will give community members and students an opportunity to interact with six animal behaviorists, whom the organization's president calls six of the great minds in animal training, on March 20 (Friday).

The event being referred to as The Great Minds Conference is being hosted by the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals (ORCA). The theme of the conference will be The Art and Science of Animal Training: Where are we now? Where are we going?

ORCA is a student organization that was started by Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz, associate professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis. ORCA's mission is to enhance the lives of animals and their guardians through behavior analytic research and to inform the public about the discoveries.  The organization is open to all UNT students, regardless of their major.  

The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on March 20 in the University Union, which is located one block west of Welch and West Prairie streets.  The event will feature behaviorists specializing in equine, avian, canine and marine mammal training.  In addition to the featured speakers, the event will include an open panel discussion hosted by Rosales-Ruiz.  The topic of the discussion will be Challenges and the Future of Animal Training.

The featured trainers are:

  • Bob BaileyTraining the Animal is the Easy Part: Animal Trainer's Search for a Behavioral Touchstone
  • Alexandra KurlandGoing Micro: The Evolution of the Equine Clicker Training
  • Kay Laurence Reinforcement Patterns, Reinforcement Styles and How They Affect the Outcome
  • Steve MartinThe Art of Training
  • Ken RamirezEvolution of a Zoo Trainer: A Personal Perspective
  • Steve White – Skinner and the World Collide!

Bailey has spent more than half a decade training a variety of animals.  He began his career using behavior modification methods on wild coyotes and kangaroo rats in the Mojave Desert.  Together Bailey and his late wife, trainer Marian Breland, are credited for training more than 15,000 animals and 150 different species. 

Kurland and Laurence both specialize in clicker training, focusing on equines and canines respectively.  Clicker-training is a humane form of animal training based on positive reinforcement.  Kurland is the author of Clicker Training for your Horse, The Click that Teaches: A Step-By-Step Guide in Pictures, and a number of other instructional books.  Laurence is the author of Clicker Dances with Dogs, Learning Games, Clicker Foundation Training and many other books. 

Like Laurence, White has extensive experience working with canines.  Most of his law enforcement career, which spans more than three decades, has involved working with K-9 units.  White has been an instructor at seminars across the globe, and also has served as an instructor at the K9 Academy for Law Enforcement

Martin and Ramirez have both worked extensively at zoological facilities.  Martin, an avian trainer, was responsible for designing the first of its kind, free-flight bird show, which took place at the San Diego World Zoo in 1976.  Martin has been a master falconer for over 40 years, and has served as an educational program producer or a consultant at more than 70 zoological facilities around the world.

Ramirez currently serves as the vice president of animal collections and animal training at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.  During his more than 30 years as an animal trainer, he has worked with domestic animals, marine mammals and a number of exotic animals.  He is the author of Animal Training: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement.

A schedule of speakers, as well as abstracts for each speaker's presentation and registration information, is available at the ORCA web site.  Registration is $125 for the general public prior to March 6.  After March 6 (Friday) registration is $150.  Registration for UNT students, faculty or staff is $65.  Lunch is included.

For more information about The Art and Science of Animal Training: Where are we now? Where are we going? contact April Becker, ORCA's president, at aprilmbecker@msn.com.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108