For over 25 years, Bert Vescolani has worked in the field of informal learning. He has been leading teams and students both inside and outside of the classroom environment. He has taught high school, community college and private university students throughout his career.
Currently, Bert is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Science Center. He leads a team of over 200 staff members and 400 volunteers whose mission is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning. The Science Center serves more than one million people each year, making it one of the largest science centers in the country, and one of the nation’s largest museums. It has built a national reputation for education programs and exhibits, community partnerships, and visitor experience. The Science Center is part of many local, regional and national initiatives to build better and stronger links between formal and informal education. Science Beyond The Boundaries, Girls RISE (Raising Interest in Science Engineering), Youth Exploring Science, FIRST Robotics Regional Competition, are just of the partnerships and initiatives the Science Center continues to support. These efforts and many others have been recognized by the Association of Science/Technology Centers with its highest honor, the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award, awarded three times since 2005. Over the last two years, the Saint Louis Science Center has achieved exceptional guest satisfaction ratings, diversified revenues, replaced and renewed thousands of square feet of exhibits and recently completed the largest exhibit expansion in its over 25-year history.
Before assuming his present duties in 2011, Vescolani served six years as the Director of the 103-acre John Ball Zoological Gardens in Grand Rapids, Mich. During his tenure, attendance grew, revenues doubled, and guest satisfaction increased to all-time highs. Education and conservation programs grew dramatically and in the six-year period over half of all exhibits were renovated and replaced.
Before joining the John Ball Zoo, Vescolani served as Senior Vice President at John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. During his fourteen-year tenure, the Shedd experienced dramatic expansion and achieved record attendance of over 2 million guests each year. In addition to education and collections responsibilities, Vescolani managed the Aquarium’s research vessel, R/V Coral Reef II. During his time with the Aquarium, he conducted several international travel and speaking engagements in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Canada.
Vescolani is a member of the boards of the Academy of Science of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever, BioSTL, Higher Education Consortium, Challenger Learning Center of St. Louis, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School. Vescolani also serves as a volunteer ski patroller for Hidden Valley ski patrol in Wildwood, Missouri. A native of East Lansing, Michigan, Vescolani was a varsity scholarship athlete and received his bachelor of science from Michigan State University and completed graduate coursework in Biology at Western Illinois University and Nonprofit Management at North Park University.