Rescue Ranch is a humane education center in the heart of Iredell County, NC that provides sanctuary and permanent residency to more than 80 rescued animals. These animals all have a story to share as they came to the Ranch from situations like neglect, hoarding, or owner surrender. They are affectionately known as Rescue Ranch’s animal ambassadors; and are an integral component of our humane education programs. Our educational programs incorporate hands-on learning to support our mission of promoting compassion and respect for all animals. 
We specialize in humane education programs for youth and families. We offer camps, field trips, scout programs, and more! When you attend one of our programs, you will learn about responsible pet ownership, empathy and compassion for animals, how animals survive in the wild, and other fun facts about our Animal Ambassadors. We pride ourselves on hands-on encounters with animals to learn why we must be the voice for animals. Since our inception in 2012, we have educated more than 35,000 people through our educational programs.

Registered Charity:  45-4345179

Our Mission

Rescue Ranch promotes, through its education, respect for all animals, as well as agricultural, environmental, and wildlife conservation, and facilitates rehabilitation, rescue, and responsible pet ownership in order to enhance the human-animal bond.

Our Vision

We intend to be the premier animal education center of its kind encompassing agricultural, wilderness and companion animal relationships as well as advocating for, and fostering kindness and understanding.

Who We Are

Our team consists of pet-passionate individuals from all over, with expertise in many areas. We work to include all members of our community to help connect and develop programs to support our mission. We hope you’ll join our cause and visit us often for programs and events!

Nici Bailey

Humane Education Instructor/Development Coordinator

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    Nici began hanging out at the Ranch while her daughter volunteered. She soon realized how much she enjoyed the animals, staff and mission. She had to become a volunteer herself. She grew up with many different creatures and animal experiences. Running in the field with longhorns, riding pigs, wrestling goats and catching unwelcome geese in the park are a few fun childhood memories. She has had a pet duck, rats, salamander, bunnies, and many others. Now, working at the Ranch is a wonderful opportunity for her to help support the mission and vision of the ranch while getting to spend time with the awesome creatures and staff.

    Jennifer Bhagirat

    Lead Humane Education Instructor

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      Jenn grew up with animals of all kinds and has always wanted to work with animals. She's currently in school for zoology and aquarium science. Her hobbies include video games and hanging out with her scaly, furry, and feathered kids. She was terrified of snakes until she fell in love with Dante the ball python that lives at the Ranch.

      Todd Fowler

      Humane Education Manager

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        Todd comes to the Rescue Ranch with a diverse background in Elementary/Middle School Education, Business, and outdoor learning.    Todd has developed a great appreciation for conservation, wildlife, and Natural Resource Management. Additionally, he stays active in his community, volunteering with several local non-profit organizations, contributing whenever he is able.  When not at the Rescue Ranch or with his Family (including their dog and 3 cats), Todd enjoys riding his bike, running trails, and has recently begun learning to play the guitar.

        Brandy Fowler

        Humane Education Instructor

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          An animal lover since birth and a passion for teaching lead Brandy to the Ranch. Added bonus was becoming a foster family for the Ranch. When not at the Ranch you will find her spending time with her husband, son, two dogs, parrot, bunny, lizard and frog.

          Cheryl Hanna

          Executive Assistant

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            Cheryl has always loved animals, especially chickens and her 3 rescued dogs.  In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, going to the beach, gardening and spoiling her grandkids.

            Michelle Hepler

            Executive Director

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              Michelle served more than 26 years at Iredell Parks and Recreation. Michelle is passionate about the environment and creating opportunities for education and growth which led her to the Ranch. She loves to spend time outdoors camping, paddling, and hiking with her husband David and two rescued pups, Dude and Darla. 

              Madison Hess

              Animal Care Assistant

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                Maddie grew up with all different kinds of pets and has rescued dogs her entire life so working at the ranch has been the perfect fit! She lives on a farm with a variety of animals and has two dogs, two rats, and an eclectus parrot! Her favorite animals to work with are the rats and the birds and in her free time she loves to read, watch movies, and go to concerts!

                Allie Miller

                Humane Education Instructor

                  Allie Miller is a fine arts student who has always been fascinated by animals (reptiles especially!). She started at the ranch as a junior counselor, then joined the education department to continue teaching the community about animal welfare. 

                  Maureen Moore

                  Director of Community Relations, Partnerships and Development

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                    Maureen joined the Rescue Ranch team with a background in education serving as a teacher, administrator and public information officer. She most recently served as corporate communications manager for a local energy services cooperative.  Maureen stays active in the community volunteering with local non-profits and other organizations including United Way of Iredell, Crosby Scholars, Rotary and also serves on the board for the Executive Women of Lake Norman.  Maureen lives in Statesville and enjoys baking, live entertainment and traveling.  She looks forward to making new connections and engaging more businesses, partners and individuals with Rescue Ranch who share a love for animal rescue and education.

                    Leslie Smith

                    Animal Husbandry Manager

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                      Leslie grew up with Lions, Tigers and Bears so it was natural for her to go to school for Zoology. Leslie is the backbone of the Ranch and pretty much lives here. In her free time she loves traveling, hanging with her two Dachshunds and her boyfriend.

                      Krissie Newman

                      President & Founding Board Member

                        Since she was a little girl, Krissie Newman has always had a passion for animal welfare and educating society on responsible pet ownership. When she's not at the Ranch, you can find her with her two beautiful girls or deploying with Code 3 Associates and IFAW rescuing animals from natural disasters.

                        Michael Arms

                        Founding Board Member

                          James Boyle

                          Founding Board Member, Secretary/Treasurer

                            Chris Cartner

                            Founding Board Member

                              Ray Englebert

                              Board Member

                                Michael Horvath

                                Founding Board Member

                                  Blair Miller

                                  Founding Board Member

                                    Ryan Newman

                                    Founding Board Member