Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager
As a child of course I loved animals, who doesn’t, but I never thought I would be so blessed to do what I do today. In high school and college I worked with sea turtles and thought that is what I wanted to pursue for a career. After graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Zoology from the University of Florida in December 2012, I started an internship here at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, even before the end of the year. In March 2013, I continued to further my knowledge by earning another internship at the Mote Marine branch down here in the Keys. I took part in coral restoration research and out planted corals to the depleting reefs for about three months until I got offered to come back to the Bird Center. Being back at the Bird Center, felt like home. After all the hard work and dedication I put into the center I was offered the position of Hospital Tech under two great rehabilitators. Nine months of training and expanding my rehabilitation skills, I was promoted to assistant rehabilitator. By being at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center for the past three years I have seen the quality of care our patients have received and I look forward to continuing that best quality of care.
Leighann grew up in a military family and has had the pleasure of living in many places, including Hawaii, Italy, and she even spent several years right here in the Keys! She received her B.S. in Zoology from Washington State University. There she became very involved in working with raptors and her passion for wildlife was born. Shortly after graduation, Leighann worked at The Wildlife Center of Virginia. There she gained experience with all wildlife from Hummingbirds to Black Bears but her favorites were always of the avian kind. After several years in Virginia, she longed for a more tropical climate and could not have found a better fit for her than here at The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. Working as a Wild Bird Rehabilitator here in The Keys is truly a dream come true. She is looking forward to many new learning opportunities here and getting to know the local birds!
My name is Frankie Vierela. I graduated from Appalachian State University in May 2014 with a degree in Biology/Ecology, Environment, and Evolutionary Biology. I came down to the Keys in February 2015 as an intern at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. I absolutely loved working with the birds, especially the pelicans. I had no previous bird experience, but have always loved animals and knew I would end up working with them in some capacity. I was thrilled that I was given the opportunity to come and learn about wildlife rehabilitation and the wonderful diversity of animals in the Keys. As an intern, I was able to work hands on and really see the work and dedication it takes to work in this field. Towards the end of my internship I was asked if I was interested in returning to the Bird Center as an employee. I eagerly accepted, but had already taken a temporary position for the summer. This position was as a field technician in Montana, on a songbird study. This was a great experience and I was able to learn about birds in a completely different environment. Now I am back at the bird center, and ready to be back working hands-on with all the incredible birds here. I still have a lot to learn about birds and rehab, but am, once again, thrilled that I have the opportunity to do so here at the Bird Center.
As far back as I can remember I have always had an infatuation with animals. Still to this day family members tell me stories of when I was a kid and all the situations I would get into, finding lost dogs, giving my rabbit a bath when I was 5 and even having a cockatiel walk up the driveway into my hands. I also had many types of animals growing up like dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, parakeets, finches, and fish but I really never knew much about birds except that they had feathers and fly.
My Dream was always to work with animals but I always found myself working in customer service and then transitioning into sales. I excelled at sales but after many years it left me empty at the end of the day. On my first vacation to the Florida Keys in 2000, I realized after only spending a few hours here that I had another Dream. Fifteen years later, I have finally achieved one of my life long goals.
I spent my last two years on Long Island volunteering on a farm at The Smithtown Historical Society. There I helped take care of sheep, chickens and a very stubborn horse named Pony Boy. I fed, cleaned, gathered eggs, trained and was even there when new life came into the world. I loved what I did. The hardest part of leaving Long Island was saying goodbye to the animals I had bonded with.
Moving to the Florida Keys was a huge change. Starting up in sales again left me with the same empty feelings that I was having in NY. So I decided to look for a change and found myself at the Bird Center. Now I get to use my extensive business and sales knowledge to support the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center and help “keep them flying.”
Biography coming soon!
“Beyond their beauty, splendor and inspiration, birds are our ‘canary in the coal mine.’ A healthy presence of native and migratory wild birds represents strong biodiversity.”
Nancy Saxe, DVM
Nancy Saxe, D.V.M., has been an invaluable asset to the Center, donating time, expertise and surgery when needed. She graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University and moved to Florida to work for several veterinary practices before establishing Lantana Animal Hospital in Lantana, FL, in 1980. After selling her thirty-year-old practice in Lantana, Nancy established Saxe Veterinary Services, P.A., in 2009.
Dr. Saxe now offers mobile veterinary service and will treat your pet at your home or, if needed, at her home. The practice is located in Islamorada, but provides veterinary services from Key Largo to Key West.
Lee Rubin, DVM
Lee Rubin, D.V.M., a retired veterinarian from Margate, New Jersey, spends his winters here in the Florida Keys. When Dr. Rubin isn’t fishing he gladly helps out at the Bird Center by donating veterinary services.