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. Jennie and Owen have fostered the tiniest of birds up to a moluccan cockatoo for the rescue from 2011. They have two African Greys Kiwi and Jacko as well as two Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Piper & Rose and have two adult children, Ben and Jonathan. Jennie has volunteered In the past with various other organizations, including The Humane Society of Tampa Bay earning her “Gold Shirt”. You can reach Jennie at [email protected]
Christi S – Central & South Florida Foster Coordinator
Hello, my name is Christi and I am the foster coordinator for the Central and South Florida area. I have lived in Orlando my entire life. I work for a Real Estate Company I am the manager for the sales department. I found FPR by googling adoptable birds. I wanted to adopt, but after seeing what FPR does, I decided to foster. It has been the best choice for me, the birds I have fostered have been amazing. The people who have adopted from me have equally been amazing. My fosters have been African Greys, Cockatoos and a beautiful Amazon. It is so exciting to bring a bird into our home and discover the different personalities and attitudes of each bird. My job for FPR is overseeing the current fosters in the Central Florida area, assisting with any issues they may face with their foster birds. As the coordinator I also process applications for potential volunteers and fosters in my area who wish to join our rescue. When not at work or working with FPR I enjoy my animals on my small farm. I have two rescue horses, two donkeys a lamb.
Sharon works with the owners that apply to surrender their birds. There are many reasons people have to make the difficult choice to relinquish and she tries to be sensitive to that fact by finding a good foster family that will match that particular bird’s situation.
Sharon has been with the rescue since 2013 when she adopted her first pair of budgies from FPR and started fostering soon after. Sharon’s husband is also interested in learning about birds and has been very helpful when fosters come in and also with their own personal birds. Sharon and her husband also have their two furry pups, Frosty and Willie and Eddie the cat. Sharon has always had an interest in birds but after moving from New York to Florida has found her “home” with FPR. Her very first bird back in 2001 was a canary, “Tweety” who inspired her love of birds when she and her then 7-year-old son heard his first song come and after that as they was history.
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.
Ashley D is our Amazon wish list coordinator and Social Media manager and her role with FPR is to tailor a wish list for each bird that comes into the rescue so they can get donations of things they need. I also make sure that when a bird receives a gift, their foster takes a picture of it and we post it to Facebook to say thank you for their generous gift! Ashley has been with FPR since early 2017 and currently lives in Orlando where she is a travel agent by day, crazy parrot lady by night! She is also a foster mom, and loves getting to know the birds and helping them find their forever homes. She has one parrot of her own – a very spoiled little Quaker named Pudding. In her spare time she enjoys birdwatching, traveling, and spending time with my husband and daughter.
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.