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MACNA 2011

The Greater Iowa Reef Society dazzled participants with its well-organized contirbution to the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America pantheon.

By Clay Jackson |

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The Greater Iowa Reef Society did a bang-up job hosting this year’s Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA). The event occurred September 9 to 11, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. Somber tributes in recognition of the 10th anniversary of September 11 were evident in many locales.
This year there were some 1,400 attendees, with 185 vendors. One of the top draws in the vendor area was Brett Raymer, one of the rambunctious stars of the new aquarium reality series “Tanked.” Raymer was personable as fans came up for photo-ops and autographs.

Marine Aquarium Societies of North America President Steven Pro had this to say about MACNA XXIII: “The Des Moines MACNA was highly successful. The turnout was fabulous, given the state of the economy ... Even more than that, the vibe of the attendees was great. Everyone was excited to see the great speakers, the hot new products and the cool livestock available.” Pro expects to see even more people at MACNA XXIV ( in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 28 to 30, 2012.

One of the highlights of MACNA XXIII was a visit to nearby Central Campus; this adjunct of the Des Moines public schools offers several novel programs for interested and qualified high school students, such as a fashion design program, a radio studio and its pièce de résistance, its amazing aquarium science program.

Kirk Embree, an aquarium science instructor, walked me through the marine biology lab at Central Campus, pointing out a shark tank, fragging tanks, future jellyfish tanks and clownfish breeding and larval propagation tanks along the way. “The students pretty much run it all,” said Embree.
The program is supported by grants and private and corporate donations. In fact, part of the proceeds from the MACNA raffle went to the marine biology program at Central Campus. You never know. A Central Campus marine biology grad might be a keynote speaker at a MACNA someday.

Central Campus — FYI
Is the future of the marine aquarium hobby, not to mention our oceans and coral reefs, important to you? IF you want to find out more about how to donate (money, supplies or equipment — be it an individual or corporate donation) to the marine biology program at Central Campus, contact Kirk Embree at

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