By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Kirkpatrick Foundation will host its second ANIMAL Conference, a two-day forum of ideas, impact and inspiration regarding animal wellbeing. The event will be held on Monday and Tuesday, October 22 and 23 at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, 1 Park Avenue, in downtown Oklahoma City. Registration will begin on Monday at 7 a.m.
In 2012, the Kirkpatrick Foundation started the Safe & Humane initiative with the goal of making Oklahoma one of the safest and most humane places to be an animal by 2032.
From companion and farm animals, to wildlife and zoo species, the Kirkpatrick Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of all animals through this initiative.
Held just once every three years, the Foundation believes the forum is a key element in achieving that objective. The inaugural ANIMAL Conference was held in 2015 in Oklahoma City.
The conference will feature two days of breakout and plenary sessions, with opportunities to network with individuals from different parts of the animal wellbeing field who work in Oklahoma and throughout the United States.
“Our vision for The ANIMAL Conference is to convene those who are professionally or personally part of the animal wellbeing and leadership community to discuss current topics and concerns, including community wellness,” says Louisa McCune, executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation.
“We believe that the conference—a festival, really—and our Safe & Humane initiative will educate and inspire Oklahomans to translate their love for animals into positive action and compassion toward animals and other humans,” said McCune.
Monday’s speakers will include Bob Meadow of Lake Research Partners; Kelly Burley, KOSU Director; Paul Schmitz, CEO, Leading Inside Out; Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, author, Oklahoma State Poet Laureate 2017-2018; Raj Patel, PhD, Research Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin; and Jill Hoffman, consultant, Animal Grantmakers.
On Tuesday attendees will hear from photographer Tim Flach; Bruce Friedrich, co-founder & executive director, Good Food Institute; Becky and Barry Switzer; and Steven Charleston, Elder of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and retired Episcopal Bishop of Alaska.
Forty speakers are confirmed for the two-day conference, including the Ryan Tate co-founder and president of VETPAW, a post 9/11 veterans group that works to protect rhinos and elephants under attack by poachers in Africa. A complete list of conference speakers is available online.
During the event participants can sign up with KOSU radio engineers to tell their own personal animal story, which may appear on the air. The popular Lutheran Church Charities seven Golden Retriever comfort dogs will again be present at this year’s conference.
Early registration will begin on Sunday, October 21 from 2 – 4 p.m. A pre-conference tour of central Oklahoma animal exhibits will be offered from 3 – 5 p.m. with visits to Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue, Oklahoma History Center, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and the Oklahoma City Zoo. Space is limited and registration is required.
The public is invited to attend the free opening reception on Sunday evening from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Zoo Elephant Sanctuary. The event will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and the Flight of the Elephant, artistic performance. Registration is required.
“We’ve made the promise to make Oklahoma a safer place for animals in the next 20 years,” said Kirkpatrick Foundation Chairman Christian Keesee. “The ANIMAL Conference is the next key part of that initiative in bringing people together from around the world to share ideas about how to make Oklahoma a safer place.”
Founded in 1955 by John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick, the Kirkpatrick Foundation offers grants in the areas of arts, culture, education, animal well being, environmental conservation, and historic preservation.
“If you are interested in promoting active compassion for animals, then register today for the ANIMAL Conference 2018,” McCune said. “You don’t have to be a volunteer or staff member of a animal organization to attend.”
Business/Philanthropist/Individual tickets are $300. Student tickets are $75 and Nonprofit tickets are $150. Registration includes breakfast and lunch for both days of the conference, tote bags with conference materials, full access to Cat Café, the Portrait Studio, and Scissortail Gifts Shop. Continuing Education credits are available. Online registration for the ANIMAL Conference is available now.