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

Last Updated on March 31, 2020 by Caroline Warwick

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

Posted: March 31, 2020

Category: Work & Life
Tags: Mid-Florida Research And Education Center, MREC, New Employees, Pets, Working From Home


Komendy Windows
January 24, 2022

with the perfect subject. Thanks for a great valuable project. Great work! Keep up the ultra do the webjob!

Denise Lictawa
October 14, 2021

Great job cousin. Loved reading this. Yay Taylor woot woot!


September 30, 2021

Thank you for your interest. You can find all the Water Wednesday recordings on our YouTube Channel:

elizabeth major
September 30, 2021

Where can I watch The Power of Ponds?

August 25, 2021

That's superb,congratulations Yuvaraj Khamare!

Ok ok, letsgo
August 23, 2021

Looking forward to reading more. Great post.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.


August 17, 2021

Update: We will switch this class to Zoom. Sorry for the inconvenience.


August 6, 2021

Thank you for your interest. You do not need to bring water samples to the event. We will hand out testing kits at the event.

August 6, 2021

What size water sample is needed for the testing? A Pint?


August 3, 2021

Thank you for your interest. The webinars are recorded. We are building a webpage to house all the recordings. Please stay tuned!

Rodney Hyde
August 2, 2021

Hello Yilin, I work for a local jursidiction and was wondering if you would be able to offer a presentation on this subject at our conference this year.

Peter Meyer
July 30, 2021

I wish you would record the seminars so those of us who cannot attend live could see the seminar later.


July 23, 2021

Thank you for your interest. We are building a webpage to house all the recordings. Please stay tuned!


July 23, 2021

Thank you for your interest. The event will be held at the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County. The address is 16110 Aviation Loop Dr., Brooksville, FL 34604.

Diane Kirby
July 15, 2021

Would like to attend but where is this event located?

Carolyn Mudgette
July 15, 2021

How do we access webinars that we missed? Thanks!


June 26, 2021

Thank you for your interest. Recordings will be available after the webinar is conducted.

David Dame
June 25, 2021

Please make the webinars available for those who cannot attend sessions.

David Dame
June 25, 2021

Very timely topic.

June 17, 2021

This article is excellent. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article regarding your ideas about septic systems. The Tulsa Septic Service website is an excellent resource. You can learn more at

April 30, 2021

Such an amazing content about AI. Way to go!


April 22, 2021

Thank you for your interest. I am sorry you have time conflict. Please register the topics that you are interested. We will share the recordings with the registrants including those who are unable to attend.

Jill Hendrickson
April 21, 2021

I am interested in this series. I am in clinic seeing patients every Thursday and am wondering if there will be an opportunity to see this series online/evenings.


March 1, 2021

Thank you!

February 27, 2021

Ai is the new thing. It has so much potential. Nice article by the way

Caroline Warwick

February 22, 2021

Nancy, what are you treating specifically?

Nancy Hodgkins
February 13, 2021

Do you have any organic herbicides to recommend?

Avatar photo
Donna Torrey

January 27, 2021

Great to hear about the Tree-cycling and Chop and Drop as ways to compost! I have been landscaping like this for over 15 years and the results are remarkable. I use no fertilizer (except on veggies) and my additional water use is minimal. My trees and shrubs never need pesticides or interventions and are beautiful. It works and keeps all that bio-mass out of the landfills! Thank you for spreading the word.

Mark Taylor
January 22, 2021

Thank you for sharing this beautiful information with us about the Health of Septic Tank System. if you are looking for < Septic tank installations in Colchester Essex Try Ashwaste Environmental, they provide this type of services in Colchester, Chelmsford, Epping, Essex, and nearby areas.

Rachel Frampton
January 12, 2021

My dad noticed that his septic tank is producing an awful smell, which is why he's thinking of having it pumped. Well, it never occurred to me that smaller tanks will need more pumping. I'll also keep in mind to tell him that he must not flush wipes or tissues in his toilet since this may cause a blockage.

Ryan Gregory
December 29, 2020

Hello Dr. Warwick. Is it possible for me to register to view a recrording of this webinar? Thank you!


December 14, 2020

Thank you for your comments. Florida's springs are facing various complex threats, including decreasing spring flows and excessive nutrients. Spring flows decrease because of declining water levels in the groundwater aquifer that sustains them. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Withdrawals, Uses, and Trends in Florida, 2015 report indicated that 5,720.82 million gallons of water were withdrawn every day. Commercial-industrial-institutional-mining (CIIM) freshwater withdrawals are reported at 408.99 million gallons per day (MGD). Bottled water companies are one industry included in CIIM category. On Page 21 of the report ( “Food production (including water-bottling) accounted for about 20 MGD of the freshwater withdrawals in this category in 2015, of which about one-quarter (5 MGD) was withdrawn specifically for water-bottling.” As a Floridan, we are all responsible to reduce the plastic use and protect our water resources.

Jayant Kowe
November 28, 2020

Work done by Mr Yuvraj is quite remarkable and may prove very beneficial for farming sectors around the globe especially for country like India where 70% of population is dependent on agriculture directly or indirectly. We also work with farming equipment provider giant in India Mahindra & Mahindra. We manufacture components for there tractor and are manufacturing partner. You can get details in our website , company name is Disha Engineering, Nagpur. Best wishes to Mr Yuvraj for his work.

Nick Dennis
November 18, 2020 you people are either 2 faced or have your heads in the sand, companies are destroying our springs

David Dale
November 18, 2020

If the springs are so valuable (which I agree with BTW) then why are applications from companies like Nestle even considered? They drain the aquifer, generate single use plastic, and don't provide any real financial benefit.

July 31, 2020

Hello Angela, Your blog seems a great help for students. I want to introduce our George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program Deadline: 29th Sept 2020 Apply Now


July 21, 2020

yes, I dry the young leaves and flowers to use it along with green tea.

July 15, 2020

Is this garden project still active? Would Robby Pletcher reach out to me, please?

Benjamin Markus
July 9, 2020

Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) is edible! Try a flower.

moura justin
June 17, 2020

I really enjoyed over there.I have also attended this event.

suba suba
June 11, 2020

Really enjoyed this article post.Really thank you! Great.

suba suba
June 11, 2020

Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article post. Much obliged.

suba suba
June 11, 2020

I think this is a real great article post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

suba suba
June 11, 2020

Looking forward to reading more. Great article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

June 10, 2020

Having a no or low tolerance for a landscape would be the ideal way to enhance and get rid of my grass! Enjoyed your post.


June 8, 2020

Thank you for your kind words. We always appreciate the education too.


June 8, 2020

Hi there. We don't generally recommend septic system additives. Studies found septic system additives are not significantly effective to increase the bacteria or the sludge level in the tank.

May 31, 2020

Hi Yilin, thanks for sharing these. Do you recommend septic treatment chemicals?


May 26, 2020

Thanks for you interest. This is the map of the 2014 Florida Department of Environmental Protection verified list of impaired waters, which contained 2575 entries. Here you can find an updated list:

Anh Volmer
May 25, 2020

What year was the map of 2,600 bodies of water impaired? was that map from 2018?

May 16, 2020

Hi, I would appreciate Non-chemical recommendation To control Corinespora Leaf spot Infestation on a young Papaya tree. I’m trying to do my small in-house papaya garden but I’ve notice these leaf lesions which I think is this fungal infection based on my own research. I’m using natural home made compost and even small trees are budding nicely but this new infection might ruin my papayas. I don't want artificial chemicals. Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated. This is a new hobby for me. Thanks

April 17, 2020

This is pretty cool! Makes me want to go out and try gardening veggies after several tries years ago. Thanks for the information!

Sanjeet Singh
April 16, 2020

Information given is very useful for us in India Weed management is very difficult here in India

April 3, 2020

I might wanna do this soon. Own weather station, plus web scraping of hourly data for comparison. Got my spidey senses riled up by something a few days ago.

April 1, 2020

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

March 31, 2020

Something positive, what a fun post!

March 31, 2020

LOL So funny to see all the critters.

Nancy McD
March 31, 2020

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

March 31, 2020

Nice fun post Caroline Roper Warwick.

March 31, 2020

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

G. Skinner
March 26, 2020

Thank you for making this clear. The packages should have clear printing so you know without searching for these warnings. We do not need clogged pipes added on to what we are facing now. Appreciate the education.

Angela Colonna

November 15, 2019

We had a great time on our tour and learned a lot! It's great work, we agree.

April M.
November 15, 2019

Awesome work!!!

Amber Shahzadi
July 8, 2019

its really beautiful very nice

Amber Shahzadi
July 6, 2019

thanks for sharing its really amazing

Daniel F. McDade
March 6, 2019

Nice to see that the "advanced scaffolding and lift system" that I designed and fabricated in 2004 is still being used today. Simple and basic in design it rolls along the overhead heating pipes giving access to the plants from one end of the facility to the other across the full width.

Angela Colonna
February 22, 2019

Thanks for reaching out! For more information about plants in the Tampa area check with the Hillsborough County Extension office: To find plant suppliers, go here: Click on 'plants' and search for the plant by name.

Steve Welborn
February 15, 2019

Your picture of maiden hair fern is not the Pedatum species ( or five finger fern) I would like to know if the Pedatum species can be grown in shady,sandy soil Tampa gardens. And, if so where can I buy sevreal? Thanks.

Mack patel
February 11, 2019

Nice post!

Angela Colonna

February 4, 2019

Joe's Nursery is located in Florida but the nursery ships items to South Carolina for clients. So unfortunately you would not be able to visit the business for future travels.

Renee Enlund
September 19, 2018

I just traveled thru SC. Where is Joe's Nursery located? I'd love to visit on my next trip. Renee Enlund, Master Gardener Bay Co. Fl.

August 19, 2018

That's a very motivated brilliant young lady.She is an asset to any lucky company.

August 19, 2018

That's a very motivated brilliant young lady.She is an asset to a very lucky company.

July 8, 2018

thank u for your site..very useful..Zahid

Native Plant Consulting
June 26, 2018

I recently met Dottie on the Native Landscape Tour at The Villages, sponsored by the Florida Assn. of Native Nurseries. A couple of weeks later, she visited St. Augustine to learn more about how I do business. She is passionate about her business and most of all - about the sustainability of our wildlife and food production through the utilization of native plants in our landscapes. Dottie and Kevin rock. Check out their website and visit their beautiful nursery.

Mariano curiel
June 6, 2018

Good work,very interesting,this can grow Texas climate conditions?

June 6, 2018

I loved this article It made me want to get my own fairy garden

Carolyn Kieler
June 2, 2018

I love what Dottie and Kevin are doing with their property and their lives. And they keep honeybees too!!!

May 28, 2018

Whoa this is awesome!

Tammy Stockdill
May 24, 2018

Impressive to hear about and see.

Cathy Lowenstein
May 23, 2018

What a great example of a nursery enterprise working with natural processes and promoting environmentally friendly gardening! The demonstration garden looks intriguing.

Comments are closed.

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