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Have-A-Heart Dinner & Silent Auction

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Dani is an ecologist, environmentalist, wildlife photographer, gardener, and author. She is also a long-time vegan and activist in environmental, animal welfare, and social justice rights. Dani has recently converted her urban yard into a certified native wildlife sanctuary and food forest. Dani provides nature walks in the Tampa Bay area to increase eco-literacy and to foster a more incredible passion for our planet. She also has a YouTube channel called Peaceful Bird Gardens, where she teaches about veganic gardening and providing habitat with native plants for wildlife in our backyards. Dani has researched habitat fragmentation and loss related to resource acquisition by migratory bird species. She has over twenty years of wildlife rehabilitation experience and is the former hospital director for the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary.

Florida was a much different place when Bill Samuels first lived here in 1969. He has seen many, many changes concerning the wildlife, and especially concerning our Florida panther. He has chronicled much of this information and now travels around Florida as a historian, sharing with audiences about where the panther was in 1969, how far we've come with panther recovery,  and perhaps a glimpse into what the future holds for the panther in Florida. He now lives in Sarasota with his wife, Connie.


Melissa is an attorney and animal rights advocate. Melissa serves as a volunteer on the Florida Wildlife Commission's Bear Stakeholder Group to monitor the bear management activities of the FWC. Melissa has attended several FWC meetings and has spoken to the Commissioners on multiple wildlife issues, including protecting the skyway pelicans, strengthening captive wildlife regulations, and prohibiting invasive species. To help Floridians learn about what's happening with animals in their state, she has started the "Florida Loves Animals" YouTube channel. In her spare time, Melissa and her husband volunteer as a foster family for several local rescue groups. 

In 2018, FVA presented her with one of the two Animal Hero Awards that year for her tireless and successful efforts to help pass Amendment 13, which stopped greyhound racing in Florida. Melissa serves on FVA’s Advisory board as a legal advisor. 


Cathy embodies a multifaceted persona shaped by her diverse passions and commitments. With a dynamic background as a former television journalist, her storytelling prowess extends beyond screens into advocacy and community service. As a co-founder of MEOW Now,
a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of feral cats, she champions their cause with unwavering dedication and compassion. Cathy's heart beats for her community in St. Pete, where she not only resides but actively contributes as a lifetime member of the Feline Veterinary Association (FVA), solidifying her enduring commitment to the well-being of her city and its furry inhabitants.

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