Nicole graduated from UNC with a BA in Biology and minors in Environmental Science and Anthropology. She is now employed within the UNC Vet Services department as an Exotic Species Specialist. Nicole has spent her entire life working
with animals. After spending five years volunteering with animal care and education at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, she moved onto Ohio Wildlife Center's Wildlife Hospital and permanent educational facility, gaining experience with wildlife rehabilitation and general education. When Nicole entered her first year at UNC, she co-founded an animal education organization called Carolina WISE (Wildlife Information and Science Education), which taught students to care for the WISE reptile and amphibian collection and provided educational programs to local schools and community centers on wildlife and science. WISE is still in operation today!
Nicole gained further experience at the NC State's College of Veterinary Medicine Turtle Rescue Team, where she assisted with turtle rehabilitation and worked with local veterinary students. She also volunteered with Piedmont Wildlife Center’s Raptor Team, where she cared for birds of prey and handled them at educational events. She is currently an active volunteer with Raptor Insights, where she continues to work with raptor species from around the world. While Nicole enjoys working with all animals, her true passion lies with reptiles as she strives to educate the world about these misunderstood creatures.
While obtaining her BA in Film Studies from UNC Wilmington, AJ volunteered for several local film festivals and discovered a passion for nonprofit work. She served as the Assistant Director of Fundraising & Awards for the Visions Film Festival Conference, raising over $12,000 in cash and in-kind awards. After graduation, she decided to combine her lifelong love of animals with her affinity for nonprofit development and administration.
Before starting BeWild, she spent 3 years volunteering in a vast range of capacities for a number of wildlife-themed organizations. In 2018, she earned her certification in Zoo & Aquarium Science from the Animal Behavior Institute. Her studies at ABI included courses in husbandry, record-keeping, conservation, education, nutrition, animal health, and avian training. A "jack of all trades," AJ has skills and experience in the areas of fundraising, event coordination, accounting, photography, and graphic design. While AJ enjoys working hands-on with the animals at BeWild, her main responsibilities include planning events, designing print materials, and managing the organization's finances.
Board of Directors
Dr. Ilana Galex, DVM