Tennessee Aquarium

Chattanooga, TN   |  www.tnaqua.org

Mission

The Tennessee Aquarium connects people with nature and inspires them to make informed decisions about water and wildlife. Our world-class exhibits, exceptional staff, and hands-on conservation efforts have reached more than 25 million people and have reconnected Chattanoogans to the river on which we all depend. As a fiscally sound nonprofit, the positive impacts of our Aquarium reach far beyond our core mission. Aquarium supporters continually inspire our staff to build on our successes to better serve our community. We celebrate the collective impact the Aquarium and its visitors produce for our community and the people who call it home.

Ruling year info

1989

Principal Officer

Mr. Keith Sanford

Main address

P O Box 11048

Chattanooga, TN 37401 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

58-1837154

NTEE code info

Zoo, Zoological Society (D50)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Freshwater Conservation

Healthy rivers and watersheds are vital to local economies, to enjoyment of the natural world and to the quality of the environment on which we all depend. The Aquarium’s research arm, the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) has a focused expertise in restoring freshwater ecosystems and helping people appreciate the need for environmental health right in our backyard. Through TNACI, the Aquarium monitors the health of our region’s sources of drinking water and studies the effects of pollution on aquatic habitats and animal health. TNACI’s conservation work each year is critical not only for today’s quality of life, but also for the quality of life we pass on to our children and grandchildren.
TNACI and the Aquarium work together to convene our region’s top scientists, collaboratively creating innovative solutions today for the environmental challenges of tomorrow.

Population(s) Served

Constructed as a catalyst for economic development in downtown Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium produces numerous positive fiscal and economic impacts for our region year after year. We are proud to build upon more than twenty years of success as an economic engine for Chattanooga and its surrounding communities. Continued investments in our nonprofit Aquarium are directly correlated with the positive impacts we have on employment, visitation and spending in our region.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Accreditations

Association of Zoos and Aquariums- Accreditation 2014

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools 2014

Awards

National Medal for Museum Service 2009

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Distinguished Service Award 2009

Tennessee Environmental Educators Association

Conservation Educator of the Year 2009

Tennessee Wildlife Federation

Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award 2008

State of Tennessee

North American Conservation Award 2007

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Affiliations & memberships

Chamber of Commerce 2015

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

STRATEGIC GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

Aquarium Experience:
- Be ranked among the top 10 attractions in the US each year

Education:
- Increase knowledge of and connectivity to the natural world among people reached through experiential education efforts

Conservation/Research:
- Be recognized as the authority on Southeastern U.S. freshwater conservation

Governance:
- Build a highly efficient Board of Trustees that directs and enhances the Aquarium's planning and policy development efforts, builds the organization's financial strength, and broadens the organizational base of support in the community and the Southeast.

The Tennessee Aquarium is a vital link connecting people to freshwater and the ocean beyond. Our excellent exhibits and dynamic living collection entertain and inform. We celebrate and seek to protect the rich biodiversity of the Southeast. We lead and partner to make a meaningful difference in the economic and environmental well-being of our community.

The Tennessee Aquarium opened its doors in 1992 as the world's largest freshwater aquarium. For more than 20 years, the Aquarium has provided the community with both an extraordinary educational resource and a beautiful showcase for aquatic life. Fulfilling a mission to inspire wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains, the Tennessee Aquarium is a vital link connecting people to freshwater and the ocean beyond. Fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums since opening, our excellent exhibits and dynamic living collection entertain and inform nearly one million people each year.

Through two spectacular buildings, the Aquarium's exhibit path tells two stories. First is the River Journey building's story of the Tennessee River following the path of a raindrop from the streams of an Appalachian forest to the Gulf of Mexico. Second is the Ocean Journey building's larger story of every watershed's connection to the world's oceans. In addition to all that guests experience during a tour of the Aquarium's buildings – animal encounters, docent talks, narrated dives, gallery programs and much more – they delve deeper into the Aquarium's river of knowledge through hands-on learning during classroom programs, summer camps, outreach programs, behind-the-scenes tours, teacher training sessions, and an interactive Aquarium website and mobile app. In addition, the Aquarium's IMAX Theatre showcases environmental and nature-themed films as a complement to our exhibit story.

As we look towards the future, leveraging 25+ years of incredible success as an educational asset, environmental leader, and economic engine for the Tennessee Valley, the Tennessee Aquarium is taking a bold step to solidify our region's standing as the conservation capital of the South.

The Aquarium is proud to serve as a model for zoos and aquariums across the country and is routinely honored as a leader in its field. In 2009, the Aquarium received the National Medal for Museum Service, the highest national honor awarded to museum institutions, for its ongoing commitment to serving communities in a four-state region, including Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. The Aquarium's outstanding conservation work has been recognized at both the state and national level and has received the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award and the North American Conservation Award. Since 2010, we have been rated the best Aquarium in the nation for guest satisfaction.

An interdepartmental task force actively pursues specific and measurable outcomes and outputs based on the above-mentioned goals. Our primary objectives and successes are listed below by department:

Husbandry
• Develop a Master Exhibit Plan (developed 2017, on-going)
• Open new exhibits or experience every two to four years (on-going)

Guest Services
• Expand experience options for guests (on-going)
• Continue to attain at least 80% overall visitor satisfaction ratings (on-going)

Research/Conservation
• Continue world-class species conservation including: sturgeon, mollusks, salamanders and turtles (on-going)
• Create a new conservation and research facility (opened 2018, research on-going)

Human Resources
• Provide staff with additional professional development opportunities (on-going)

Education
• Increase interaction with visitors (education strategy and structure revised 2018, on-going)
• Expand outreach programs (ongoing)
• Expand on-site education programs (on-going)
• Evaluate and expand gallery programs (on-going)

Marketing
• Increase attendance, membership, web hits and media coverage (on-going)
• Generate additional contributions, marketing partnerships and trade value (on-going)
• Ensure a strong, cohesive brand image in all materials and at the Aquarium (on-going)

Financials

Tennessee Aquarium
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Tennessee Aquarium

Board of directors
as of 5/27/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Ward Davenport

Keith Sanford

Tennessee Aquarium

Ward Davenport

Pointer Management

Sheldon Grizzle

Spartan Ventures

Greg Vital

Independent Healthcare Properties, LLC

Chris McKee

McKee Foods

Allen McCallie

Miller & Martin, PLLC

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No