Meet the Staff of Peace River Wildlife Center
Callie Stahl – Executive Director
Callie started working as a veterinary technician in 1992 and continued in that career until she had her children and became a full-time mom. In 2009, she moved from Lee County to Port Charlotte and was hired at PRWC as a part-time rehabilitator. She worked rehab for three years before taking the position as Operations Manager and then Executive Director. Callie really enjoys escaping the office to educate the public with our glove-trained ambassador birds, Luna and Bella.
Fun Fact: Has every Shaun Cassidy album ever recorded.
Robin Jenkins – DVM, Director of Veterinary Services
A 1996 graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Robin Jenkins has spent most of her professional career in service to non-profits. She has worked with animal shelters trying to improve the health and adoption rates of homeless cats and dogs. She volunteered with Peace River Wildlife Center since 2004 in every capacity from cage cleaner to gift shop clerk, from surgeon to Executive Director. Dr. Robin has been the Director of Veterinary Services since 2016. Releasing healthy animals back out into the wild is her favorite activity, but she also enjoys working with the resident non-releasable birds as an education ambassador.
Fun Fact: Dr. Robin’s favorite quote is by a fictional serial killer: “Hang on to your dreams with everything you got. Because the best life is when your dreams come true. The second-best is when they don’t but you never stop chasing them.” — Serge A. Storms
Connie Ferris – Gift Store Manager
Connie started volunteering at the PRWC in 2013. She became Gift Shop Manager about 1 1/2 years later. She enjoys working to help the animals. Connie and her husband owned a retail business in Seattle, Wa. for 5 years. They moved to Asia and lived there for 17 years, then retired in Florida in 2011.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialists
Cara Brown – Lead Wildlife Rehabilitator
A native of Pensacola, FL, Cara first had an interest in zoology and graduated with an AS degree in Zoo Animal Science in 2006 followed by a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoo Science from University of West Florida in 2008. While finishing her degree, Cara started working part-time for Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. There she got fully involved in wildlife rehabilitation, attending wildlife conferences, taking a glove-trained turkey vulture out for events, and working around the clock feeding baby animals. In early 2011 Cara was accepted for an internship at Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans to working with captive propagation of Mississippi Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, where she took part in artificial insemination, egg incubation, and crane chick rearing in costume. In the summer of 2011, Cara came to Punta Gorda to be lead rehabilitator at Peace River Wildlife Center. Her favorite parts of her job are getting injured or sick wildlife recovered and back to the wild and, even though “it gives her sleepless nights”, caring for the baby wildlife is always a delight for her.
Fun Fact: Cara’s craziest animal experiences come from her crane internship, where she had to collect semen from and inseminate cranes
Kelly Grutto – Wildlife Rehabilitator
Kelly was hired by the Center in 2009 and has been a part-time rehabber ever since. She also works full time at the Punta Gorda Animal Hospital as a veterinary technician since 2000. Kelly and her husband have two daughters, two dogs, three cats, two pigs, numerous birds and other critters. Her compassion for animals knows no bounds and she is always willing to help make or find a home for creatures in need.
Fun Fact: Kelly loves pork, but not in the way that you think! Kelly has been known to give rescue pigs a new home.
Corissa Kochakian – Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator
Corissa Kochakian, or Krissi as known by her friends and co-workers, has been working in the veterinary industry since 2007. Her first vet job was at a small animal and exotics practice where she quickly grew a passion for exotic species (reptiles, birds, small pocket pets). In 2013, she left that practice to chase her other interest, emergency medicine, and pursue her degree in veterinary technology. She graduated from St. Petersburg College in 2015 and obtained her Veterinary Technician license that same year. She is continuing her education with St. Petersburg College and has almost completed her Bachelors in Veterinary Technology and Certificate of Practice Management. She plans to specialize in exotic animals or emergency medicine after she graduates with a Veterinary Technician Specialty Certification (VTS).
After providing in-home care for some of PRWC’s baby mammals since 2016 and volunteering in PRWC’s wildlife hospital over the summer of 2017, she was brought on to the team as an Assistant Wildlife Rehabber in late 2017. Corissa also currently works as an ER and ICU Veterinary Technician for a local Emergency and Specialty veterinary practice since ???? .
In her spare time, Corissa likes to go fishing, travel, spend time with her family and hang out with her pets.
Fun Fact: Corissa often refers to her house as the “local zoo” because she shares her home with several exotic animals including: bearded dragons, leopard geckos, snakes, tarantulas and her not-so-wild house cats.
Jessica Malasics – Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator
Jessica was born and raised in Englewood, Florida and always knew she wanted to work with animals. Her passion led her to go to college in Unity, Maine where she majored in Wildlife Biology. After graduating, she came back home and started working for a veterinary hospital as a veterinary technician. She has been working with Punta Gorda Animal Hospital since 2014 and the PRWC since 2017. At home, she has two dogs, two cats and a mini pig named Penelope.
Fun Fact: Jessica has a huge passion for wolves so much that when Unity College sent her a pamphlet of a girl petting a wolf she knew that was where she wanted to go.
Amy Rhoads – Wildlife Rehabilitator
Amy grew up in a small town outside of Buffalo, New York and was always surrounded by animals. Her father taught her how to fish before she could walk. This sparked her love and fascination with the ocean and marine animals. Amy attended the University of New England in southern Maine with a dual major in marine biology and environmental science. During college, Amy stayed busy volunteering at the local marine animal rehabilitation center where she helped rehabilitate injured seals and sea turtles. During college breaks she interned with many organizations which helped her get her feet wet in many facets of animal care. She started with the care of exotic waterfowl at the Gooseneck Hill Waterfowl Sanctuary in Delevan, New York and ended with research of North Atlantic right whales in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After college, she accepted a position as a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where she was responsible for manatee and dolphin rescue and carcass salvage for several southwest counties. While working for FWC, Amy started volunteering for PRWC as a habitat cleaner in 2011. Then in 2012, PRWC was able to steal Amy away from FWC and made her one of their wildlife rehabilitators.
Fun Fact: Amy has been a vegetarian since she was four years old. When she was little she would tell everyone that she was a “veterinarian”.
Valerie Wolfrey – Hospital Manager
Valerie started volunteering with PRWC in 1996 with rescuing wildlife. In 2014, she started volunteering in the hospital and was hired as a Rehabilitator in May of 2015 and is currently our hospital manager. She previously worked at Punta Gorda Animal Hospital from 2005 – 2016, and in the veterinary profession for over 14 years. She graduated from Desoto High School, has taken a few college courses as well as numerous veterinary continuing education courses. Her favorite part of the profession is delivering compassion and loving care to her patients. She has loved and cared for animals her whole life and truly loves what she does! In her spare time she enjoys going kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, and gardening. She has nine dogs, four cats, six birds, and two horses. Her outdoor activity partner is Goldie, a rescued long-haired Dachshund who enjoys hiking as well!
Fun Fact: Although not a hoarder, Valerie has had 65 rescue animals on her farm during the coarse of her marriage, with 25 animals currently — a mix of dogs, horses, cats, and birds.
Anne Marie Witkowski – Administrator & Volunteer Coordinator
Anne Marie Witkowski always wanted to be Indiana Jones, so she went to Rutgers University and graduated in 1998 with a BA in Anthropology and Archaeology. While in University, she studied abroad in Glasgow, Scotland and fell in love with traveling. Since the position of Indiana Jones was occupied, she decided to take a different path and worked as a Benefit Administrator for PricewaterhouseCoopers and Johnson & Johnson. Not finding this career fulfilling, she returned to the University of Glasgow, Scotland for a master’s (MPhil) in Scottish Studies (History & Literature). Upon completion of her masters, Anne Marie applied for a position in the U.S. Department of State as an Office Management Specialist and after a long security clearance process, worked for them from January 2003. She served in Zimbabwe, Iraq, Ireland, Jerusalem, Norway, and Washington, DC. She was medically retired (early) in January 2013 and moved to Florida. She began volunteering at PRWC in March of 2013 and was later hired as an office administrator in July 2013.
Fun Fact: While in Zimbabwe, Anne Marie volunteered in an animal sanctuary where she had the unique opportunity to work with big cats such as a leopard and a lion. She still dreams of going back to Africa.
Rick Andrews – Administrator & IT / Media Manager
Rick was born in Massachusetts, but grew up right here in Punta Gorda since he was 8 years old and graduated from Charlotte High School in 1987 (go Tarpons!). He worked at the Animal Welfare League from early 1992 – Oct. 2007, caring for abandoned and lost domestic animals as a Kennel Technician, Kennel Supervisor, Medical Assistant and Office Administrator before coming to work at the Center in April of 2009. Rick is a jack of all trades and has helped the Center as a rehabber, gift shop manager and electronics guru. He also owns his own business which supplies self-defense and personal protection products to the public. Rick is a father of two (as far as he knows) grown boys, two Step-Daughters and lives with his soul mate, Lucinda. They are owned by four dogs, four cats and one Monk Parrot. Over the years, Rick and Lucinda have fostered many homeless pets and now continue to home-care countless orphaned wild baby mammals that the Center admits. You can read an amazing story about two particular Squirrels that were in their care, “Twice Rescued“, written by Dr. Robin DVM.
Fun Fact: 16th President, Abraham Lincoln was Rick’s fourth cousin, five-times removed.
Gunnar Locke – Habitat Enrichment & Maintenance
Gunnar is originally from New Jersey and has been with PRWC since April 2013.
Fun Fact: Due to his reluctance to have his picture taken or give any information about his personal life, we have to assume Gunnar (or whatever his real name is) is in the witness relocation program. He was probably a former top level mafioso who is making amends by allowing the staff at PRWC to constantly abuse his talents and generosity.