Skip to main content

The New Employees of the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center

As most of the faculty, staff and students at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center are working from home during these unprecedented times, we decided to introduce you to the newest team members at MREC – our pets.

Astro, Director of Happiness to Sandra Alomar

  • Special Skills:
    • Security Guard, barking to everyone that walks near our door
    • Flash speed because he runs like there is no tomorrow
    • Playful, fluffy, beautiful social butterfly that enjoys being the center of attention
  • How your pet is helping you work from home:
    • Keeping the kids entertained while I try to hide from them 😊
    • Mostly Astro makes all of us smile and reminds me that COVID-19 is a season of life and this too shall pass. Ecclesiastes 3-4.


Ginger and MaryAnn Halliday, Supervisors to Chris Halliday

  • If you have to ask, you aren’t old enough
  • Social distancing, it’s a thing now


Muffin, Tubby and BowBow Marble, Supervisors to Dr. Chris Marble

  • Muffin doesn’t do much help me focus – she is good however at making sure that I take 15 minute breaks every 15 minutes to take her outside. Yes, that is a 3-year-old replay of a college football game on, but that is all I have.
  • Tubby does not like me being home and prefers that I leave. She is very skilled at social distancing and has been practicing this her entire life. She is planning an escape.
  • BowBow is another kitty that is quite the distraction and she likes to attack me as I work.


Reginald Montgomery Leckel, Esq., All-Around Dandy and Supervisor to Robert Leckel

  • Special Skills
    • Self-isolating since before it was cool
    • Turkey connoisseur
    • Squirrel voyeur
  • How he is helping you work from home:
    • Reginald can always be relied on to wake me promptly at 5am with a light arm nibbling, after which he enjoys sitting in the sink while I (attempt to) brush my teeth. He requires everyone be at his level so working from a desk or table is not an option, most days I work from the floor. It is his world, I just provide the treats.
    • Seriously though, this little guy is my heart and helps me through the many ups and downs of life. Long may he pester me!


Lily, Max, and Dobbs Warwick, Supervisors to Caroline Warwick

  • Special skills:
    • Max is Emeritus and is enjoying retiring to Florida, spending most of his time laying in the backyard making sure no unapproved mammals are on premises (squirrels beware)
    • Dobbs is Head of Sanitation, providing crumb and mess control for Little Warwick
    • Lily is Head of Security and makes sure to alert us of all sounds and deliveries of unknown origin
    • All three of them interpret “working from home” to mean “must be making physical contact with Mom at all times”
  • How they help me work at home:
    • Despite the lack of commute, the dogs still insist on being walked at 6:30 every morning, which helps me start my day as normal.


Izzy Osborne, supervisor to Dr. Lance Osborne.

  • Sitting here trying to learn how to use T4 but being watched … very distracting.


Name: Kath the Spath, Corner Guard for Dr. Alicia Rihn

  • Special skills:
    • Shady character;
    • Judging you from the corner of the room;
    • Stylishly mopey Helping with work from home:
    • Required daily exercise – running across the room to protect her from inquisitive children.  Brightens the “home office” that was formally our dining room with her presence.  Serves as a reminder that things could be worse… one could be stuck in a pot in the corner of the room without mobility.


Petunia Birkmire, Purrsonal Assistant to Sarah Birkmire

  • Special skills:
    • Fluffiness
    • Squeaking
    • Lap sitting

Petunia is helping me work from home by keeping me calm and focused. House cats spend so much time peacefully watching birds and lizards outside. When I see Petunia calmly basking in the sunlight from my window, she helps me return my focus from other stressors and distractions and back to my work.


MZHVV Family, Horticultural Specialists for Mengzi Zhang

  • Special skills:
    • Being pleasing
    • Being tough

MZHVV families sit on my balcony and quietly keep me company every day. They are tough, need little attention and low maintenance​, helps me to be not distracted from work, while trying to brighten my life and provide the joy the best they can.


King and Missy Campbell, Supervisors to Dr. Craig Campbell

King and Missy are both rescued greyhounds that raced at the old track north of Orlando. They are both about 10 years old and have been with us for years. King’s special talent: being goofy and wanting to be friends with everyone. Missy’s special talent: being extra gentle with small children.


Clyde Mellich, Emotional Support for Terri Mellich

  • Special skills:
    • Can land a triple lutz at dinner time
    • Know to jump out of a boat to chase a fish
    • Graduated first in his class for nonobedience
  • How he helps at home:
    • Keeps husband occupied while I am trying to work

Sadie Mellich, Assistant to Terri Mellich

  • Special skills:
    • Hound mix with a nose for tomatoes
    • Lays at my feet in case I need her or if it’s dinner time
    • Can anchor her food bowl with her paw
  • How she helps me at home:
    • Protects the vegetable garden from all squirrels and birds


Jasmine and Sofia Chandler, Supervisors of Annette Chandler


Lillekat (Lily) Kjelgren, Supervisor to Dr. Roger Kjelgren

  • Name: Lily (short for Lillekat, Norwegian for little cat)
  • Skills: Mellowing out anywhere (including sinks), demanding to be played with
  • Helping work from home: Bouncing off walls so I don’t have to


Juniper Savage, Supervisor of Heidi Savage

Juniper was rescued by Caroline at MREC under the juniper shrub. He was too cute to resist and I took him home to be a part of my cat family.

  • Working from home takes a little discipline, and it is so hard not to get distracted with house chores.
  • Juniper keeps guard on the dryer, so I can’t use it.
  • He is very calm and chill, and let’s me know when it’s time to get up and stretch.  


The Creech Koi Collection, Supervisors to Matthew Creech

  • An ~5-year-old collection of Butterfly Koi and regular Koi
  • Helps at home by providing entertainment by scaring off potential predators with a scare crow

6 Comments on “The New Employees of the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center

  1. These were so cool! I had to laugh at some of these. So cute! Just what we need right now.

  2. Really fun and well done. Keep up the good work and thanks for making the day a little better.

  3. What would we do without all these adorable pets? Thank you Caroline

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *