Team Fanimal

RJ Bergman

RJ Bergman is a musician, writer, and hospitality professional currently residing in Melbourne, Australia. RJ joined Fanimal in 2018 to help write content and has since helped launch Fanimal’s Contests. RJ has a strong passion for music, politics, and tourism, and he hopes to shape his conversations about animals in this light.

Sarah Lynn Bowser

Sarah Lynn Bowser is a graduate from the University of Georgia, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Forest Resources and Environmental Education. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide and has worked as a naturalist for a variety of nature centers and museums in the southeast. She has always maintained an interest in wildlife conservation and animal advocacy. She places particular focus on animals native to the southeastern United States, helping to educate the public on the benefits of wildlife who live in our own backyards.

Travis Karr

Travis Karr is a freelance filmmaker who shares his love for film and video production by helping edit videos sent in from Fanimals all over the world! Travis appreciates animals of all shapes and sizes, however, he is a raccoon lover and enjoys being able to help educate and help spread the Fanimal word!

Carol Kline

Carol Kline is the founder of Fanimal. Through working as a tourism professor in North Carolina, U.S., Carol had the privilege of collaborating with many farming families who wish to develop tourism on their farm as a means to provide extra income and to convey the importance of food production and rural lifestyles. Today she teaches a course on Animals, Tourism, & Sustainability and her research agenda is focused entirely on animals, which intersects with tourism and hospitality quite naturally. She launched Fanimal in 2018 to further satisfy her thirst for animal-related knowledge, her desire to network with animal-focused people, her wish help others find satisfaction by bringing animals into their life and careers, but most of all to be a part of something bigger for the betterment of animal treatment.

Nora Livingstone

Nora Livingstone is a co-founder of Animal Experience International, a B Corp that helps people travel around the world and volunteer with animals. Through her work as a volunteer coordinator at a wildlife centre in Canada, Nora came to understand the great need for animal loving people around the world to help animals around the world. Since the founding of AEI in 2011 she has visited more than 30 countries to help make safe, ethical and authentic international volunteering a possibility. She believes locally lead community conservation and animal welfare programs will not only help animals, they will help humanity.

Ryan Merritt

Ryan Merritt designed the Big Cat infograph series and is a fellow fan of animals. Growing up in the Midwest along the Mississippi, he was always intrigued with native species, especially aquatic life. Ryan is now working in the park and recreation industry on environmental education initiatives to help communities understand their personal responsibility in creating a sustainable environment. He is looking forward to future contributions to the Fanimal mission!

Helen Mitchell

Helen Mitchell brings a passion for empowering everyday people to the Fanimal team. As a Projects, Programs, and Communications Coordinator, she provides keen insights into accomplishing Fanimal’s goals. She spearheaded the pre-launch awareness raising campaign, assisted in multiple video projects, developed the pre-launch landing page fanimal.online, and put out numerous fires along the way. She holds a B.S. in Recreation Management from Appalachian State University.

Matthew Raynor

Matt Raynor is a contributor through graphics, research, and written works. He has always had a love for learning about all animals though cats have an extra special place in his heart. Matt is a graduate of Appalachian State University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program and currently works in the hospitality industry. His future plans include obtaining a Master’s degree in Business Administration and adopting a cat which he will name Storm.

Heather Rubright

Heather Rubright has had a love for animals since she was a kid, having grown up with a variety of pets, from hamsters and guinea pigs to dogs and cats. She loves working behind the scenes with Fanimal by assisting with the strategic plan, writing, and providing monthly content for the website. She currently works as a Marketing Assistant for a local CVB and holds Bachelor degrees in Psychology and Sociology and Masters degrees in Business and Sustainable Tourism.

AJ Samsel

AJ Samsel is a graphic design major at Coastal Carolina University. Since a young age, AJ has been fascinated by sea animals, especially squids, and even was nicknamed “Squid Man.” He hopes to use his artistic abilities to bring a new perspective to animal activism. He is always looking for new ways to spread knowledge about conservation and protection. AJ has enjoyed joining the Fanimal family and working with such an incredible group of people.

Jenna Samsel

Jenna is a graduate of the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Appalachian State University. Her love for animals began at a young age when she started volunteering with a dog rescue in Charlotte, North Carolina. More recently, Jenna enjoys working with sea turtles and teaching educational programs to children at a state park nature center on the coast of South Carolina. She hopes to continue combining her passions of education, marine conservation, and tourism in her career path.

Samantha Smyth

Samantha graduated with a Tourism Hospitality Management degree from Appalachian State University. She is a contributing editor and has crafted a couple of Fanimal’s organizational policies. During her time at Appalachian State University she worked as a sustainability fellow for the Office of Sustainability educating students about the various green initiatives impacting the campus. She has a passion for cooking, photography, and hiking with her 13 year old labordoodle! She hopes to integrate community tourism, cooking, and sustainability in her career path.

Laura-Lee Williams

Laura-Lee Williams spent the majority of their childhood on the small and beautiful island of Antigua; this upbringing brought forth a love for the natural world at a very young age. In undergrad, Laura-Lee completed an interdisciplinary degree in Gender and Women’s Studies, which led to a deep appreciation for ecofeminism, with a transnational focus on examining the relationship between feminism and environmental studies, and a keen awareness on the interconnectedness between womxn and non-human animals. Holding a love for justice, theory, and practice, Laura-Lee will be pursuing a Masters in Women’s and Gender Studies this fall, to further their research and knowledge on environmental ethics and how it relates to gender disparities, with hope to promote a more equitable world.