Florida Parrot Rescue is an all volunteer run organization, and that includes not only our fosters, but our officers, managers, and coordinators. Most of our managing team hold full time jobs and have families to care for in addition to volunteering for the rescue anywhere from 20-40 hours a week, so this is one dedicated (and multi-tasking) group of people!
Nicole Bennett – President/Director (Registered Officer)
Nicole is the Director of Florida Parrot Rescue and currently also fills the role of Southwest Florida Foster Coordinator. Nicole has been with the rescue since early 2011. She and her husband Jake joined the rescue to foster birds and to volunteer. She fosters medium and large birds and is responsible for recruiting fosters, coordinating the intake of birds into rescue in her area, and communicating with her fosters. Nicole also plans and executes many community events in her area in order to spread the word about FPR. She has been happily married since 1995 and has one daughter and a house full of rescues including one Shar-Pei/Lab mix, a Burmese cat, a Patagonian conure, a Blue and Gold Macaw, a Congo African Grey, and a hermit crab. She has always had a soft spot in her heart for all animals and starting bringing home “lost animals” as a child. In addition to volunteering for the rescue, Nicole works full time as a Registered Nurse. Her responsibilities include fundraising, recruiting, communicating with potential adopters and fosters, helping at community events, speaking with the media, and managing the rest of the officers, managers, and coordinators. You can reach Nicole at [email protected]
Jennie has two roles in Florida Parrot Rescue, that of Vice President, and the adoption Coordinator. As Vice President, Jennie manages the day to day operations of the rescue. She works with the President to make decisions on rules and regulations, as well as manages the other officers. As responsible for all inquiries for adoption from various adoption web sites, processing new applications for potential adoptions, match making families if they have not chosen a bird, completing the adoption and uniting the new “parrotonts” with the new family member for the rescue. Jennie and her husband love to travel and currently live in London UK. Before they left Florida in early 2016, Jennie and Owen had fostered the tiniest of birds up to a moluccan cockatoo for the rescue from 2011. They are joined in travel by their feathered and fur babies, two African Greys Kiwi and Jacko as well as a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Piper, a rescued boarder collie/corgi mix from Bosnia named Chester and have two adult children, Ben and Jonathan back in the US. Jennie has volunteered In the past with various other organizations, including The Humane Society of Tampa Bay earning her “Gold Shirt”.
Nancy D – Central Florida Foster Coordinator
Nancy is our central Florida foster coordinator and has been with our rescue since 2012. She joined the rescue shortly after moving to Florida so she could better help companion parrots in need. She has fostered small and medium sized birds for the rescue and currently is responsible for overseeing the current foster homes in her area, as well as assisting them with any issues they may face with their foster birds. As with the other coordinators in the rescue, she also processes new applications on potential volunteers and fosters in her area who wish to join our rescue. Nancy works full time for the Federal Aviation Administration as an Air Traffic Control Specialist at Orlando International Airport and has recently purchased her first single-family home. When not at work, she prefers to spend her time either with her beloved horse Chloe, a Friesian mare, or at home with her house full of rescues – an African Grey, an Amazon, an Eclectus, four Quakers, and a very long-lived hermit crab.
Sharon O – Relinquishment Coordinator and Amazon Wish List Coordinator
Sharon plays a very important part at Florida Parrot Rescue, she makes sure that each bird coming into rescue has all of the food, toys, perches, and cages they need. She makes sure that each bird has their very own, tailored wish list on Amazon and that when gifts arrive for birds, that foster homes take pictures of those gifts and send them to her. She then posts them on facebook in an effort to thank our very generous donors!
Laura M – North Florida Foster Coordinator
Laura acquired a love for all birds during a college internship at the Toledo Zoo. She has fostered several small to medium species and thanks to her foster failure Moluccan cockatoo is learning to love the really big guys. She currently is responsible for overseeing the current foster homes in her area, as well as assisting them with any issues they may face with their foster birds. As with the other coordinators in the rescue, she also processes new applications on potential volunteers and fosters in her area who wish to join our rescue. Laura works full time as a veterinary technician for the University of Florida. Her hobbies include taking care of her menagerie of 4 dogs, 2 ferrets and 5 parrots, traveling with her husband, Justin, wine tasting, sewing and jewelry making.
Kim M- South Florida Foster Coordinator
Sharyn adopted her quaker parrot, Mr P, from Florida Parrot Rescue in January of 2014. She was so impressed with the way FPR handled the adoption, that she decided to volunteer. She fosters, helps out at events, does home visits, and now updates the Petfinder, Adopt-A-Pet, and Rescue Me websites with biographies and pictures of each bird available for adoption in the rescue. This is a very important job because these sites are most often the first places people look when considering adopting a parrot. Sharyn enjoys working with parrots that need socialization and has been very involved with Caitlin, FPR’s Behavior Educator, and her Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) education. She has gotten her boyfriend involved with FPR and ABA as well, and they often help out at fundraisers or go to “chop” parties together. Sharyn works from home for Xerox, as part of the team that writes and administers the parking garage software for various airports throughout the country. She is originally from MD, where she did private parrot rescue work.
Jennifer S – Database Manager
Jennifer joined Florida Parrot Rescue in June 2009 with her husband Mike, to foster birds and volunteer for events. Jennifer’s role as FPR Database Manager was created as it became necessary with the growth in volunteers and the larger numbers of fosters coming into the rescue. Jennifer and Mike are owned by their feathered kids: Julie the Senegal, Lois the lovebird, Charlie the Quaker, TJ the cockatiel, Petey & Penny (cockatiels), and the fosters that have come and moved on to forever homes throughout the years. Jennifer grew up with birds and animals in the household. Her curiosity of birds started to develop when her mom brought home Snafu the Cockatiel when Jennifer was 10 years. Mike knew very little of parrots until he met Jennifer and now he can hold his own when asked questions. Jennifer and Mike have regular full time jobs outside, but like many FPR members, we wish our only jobs were to help the rescue full time!
Wendy V- Fundraising Chair
Wendy fills the role of fundraising chair for FPR. Wendy has been with FPR since 2015 and is responsible for coordinating and planning all fundraising events throughout Florida with the assistance of the president and the vice president. Wendy is a single mother of one human child, 3 adorable “feathered children,” and also cares for her mothers dog. Wendy fosters many birds that come to us in need and is an extremely patient, caring foster mom.
Jennifer James – Secretary (Registered Officer)
Jennifer is one of the original founders of Florida Parrot Rescue and for 9 years held the role of President/Director. She now currently serves as Secretary for the rescue and helps advise the current President and Vice President. She not only holds a full time job managing a local veterinary practice, but she also is happily married with 3 children and a flock of her own (consisting of dogs, cats, and whatever foster passes through her home).
Laura Bebko – Treasurer/Accountant (Registered Officer)
Currently the Treasurer of Florida Parrot Rescue, Laura has been volunteering since 2010 assisting with all financial aspects of the organization. She graduated from Washington and Jefferson College with a degree in Accounting and has held jobs in the Public and Governmental sectors. Laura currently works as an accountant for a property management company and is in the process of obtaining her CPA license.
Dr John Merladet
Dr. Merladet has been in practice since 2001 working with humans across the life span supporting their growth and change. When he became a parrot owner and began to connect with other owners, caregivers, and facilities, he soon realized that the humans and the parrots were getting stuck and began to see the consequences of this: guilt, frustration, re-homing, feather picking, loud squawking, biting, etc… Eventually, the companion animal’s day to day functional behaviors lead to undesired outcomes and much distress on the part of the companion. Thus, Dr. Merladet also has obtained over the years supervised training by doctoral level animal behavioral clinicians where his work was critiqued and reviewed and has combined this with his experience in helping the human change too. Dr. Merladet focuses on the human-animal bond together using scientific principals of behavior analysis, positive reinforcement, species specific traits and evidenced based human change techniques to help the human-parrot improve their quality of life together. Dr. Merladet has worked on cases involving biting, anxiety, aggression, loud screeching and calling behavior, mate seeking behaviors, environmental enrichment. He has helped the companion parrot owner get past stuck points such as handling fear, letting go, grief, anger, passivity, neglect, buying too many parrots, and making time for one’s companion bird(s) and one’s self. Dr. Merladet is a member of American Psychological Association’s Division 17, Human-Animal Interaction special interest subdivision and in the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Parrot Division. He is a board certified specialist in the field of psychology and a licensed psychologist in Florida as well. He works exclusively pro-bono for Florida Parrot Rescue and is committed to helping fosters, new owners, and the parrots themselves find sustainable forever relationships with each other.
Caitlin N – Behavior Educator
Caitlin provides behavior education services for Florida Parrot Rescue’s rescue birds (in foster or adopted from FPR) and their families. Her consultation services are available to the public upon inquiry. Caitlin will be graduating with her Integrative Animal Biology degree and Psychology Minor from a local university and has been studying Applied Behavior Analysis and how it relates to companion animals. She is most concerned with using the least coercive training strategies available and teaches these kindly methods to others. She follows the idea to “First, do no harm” when it comes to her counseling and training services.