Christy Milbourne (Executive Director and Founder, non-voting)
Luke Milbourne (Co-Executive Director and Founder, non-voting)
Christy and Luke have always had a passion for animals. One day they noticed a turtle that had been hit by a car on the roadway. The turtle was still trying to walk, so the Milbournes stopped to try and help. Giving turtles a helping hand whenever they'd see them injured quickly turned into passion to help all the injured or sick turtles in Mississippi. The Milbournes received an administrative wildlife rehabilitation permit from the MS Department of Wildlife in 2013, and set out to make this "hobby" a nonprofit organization so that they could help as many turtles as possible around the state. In 2017, they saw their dream realized, when they were approved by the State of Mississippi and the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization, and officially became the Central MS Turtle Rescue.
Christy and Luke live in Florence, Mississippi (Christy's hometown) with their ever changing number of turtle and tortoise "patients", 3 dogs, 2 guinea pigs, 3 snakes, 1 crested gecko, 1 bearded dragon, and 1 75+ pound sulcata tortoise. Luke and Christy both also work full time for the state government, but hope to retire one day and do nothing but help turtles and tortoises in need.
Pam Gigac (President) Pam is a long time turtle keeper known for rehabbing and providing sanctuary to turtles that have been given improper care from prior owners. She is a mother of 4 daughters, married to a VERY understanding man. She has two degrees from Penn State University, but has chosen to leave the official workforce to run a child daycare to help local families raise their children at affordable prices. Pam is also an artist and does custom paintings as well as designs nearly all of our t-shirts and other products used for fundraising. In her spare time she also helps her husband run his general contracting business.
Pam is very passionate about turtles of all kinds. Her turtles are primarily kept outside in very large, naturalized, enclosures. Her goal is to allow turtles to live their lives as naturally as she can provide, while keeping them safe and healthy.
Pam lives in Lancaster Pennsylvania where she keeps multiple species of turtles and has permits from her state to keep native species. The species she keeps include (common names): 3Toed Box turtles, Eastern Box Turtle, North American Wood Turtle, Eastern Painted turtles, Southern Painted turtles, Razorback Musk Turtle, Belize Slider turtle, Spotted Pond turtle (hamiltonii), Diamondback Terrapins, and Russian Tortoises. Pam also keeps other reptiles such as a blue tongue skink, gargoyle gecko, leopard gecko, and a ball python.
Missy Dubuisson (Vice President)
Dr. Wendy Schroeder, Ph.D. (Secretary) Dr. Wendy Schroeder started volunteering in animal rescue 18 years ago after adopting her first puppy mill survivor. Wendy serves as CMTR’s Secretary for the Board and CMTR’s Adoption Coordinator. Her professional education and work experience are in occupational therapy, and Wendy currently owns a local pet nanny and home sitting business.
Notable is her involvement as a past board member with 3 animal welfare organizations (both national and state level), her experience as a founding member of two animal rescue groups (GA and NE), and her longtime volunteer work with animals of various species.
Wendy and her husband, Jim (also a CMTR volunteer) reside in Madison, MS. They are the proud parents of 3 rescue dogs: Booker, Lovey and Roux. The foster numbers continually change, but the Schroeders foster an average of 15 turtles at a time for CMTR.
Mary McNair (Treasurer)
Dr. Rick Kirby, DVM (Member)
Dr. Daniel Plunkett, DVM (Member)
Luke Pearson, (Member) Luke Pearson graduated from the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. He originally began in academia assisting with multiple graduate student projects focusing on fish research, including American eel (Anguilla rostrata) migration, optimal spawning and rearing habitats for larval fish, and even the effect of natural gas drilling on stream fish communities in the Ozark Mountains. However, after a combined fish and turtle survey project, turtles captured his interest and he’s been catching, handling, and researching them ever since! Luke continued his education and graduated from UCA with a Master’s degree in Biology, where he studied hormone concentrations in the Ouachita map turtle (Graptemys ouachitensis). Afterwards, he moved to southern Illinois as a field technician to track alligator snapping turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) with radio-telemetry. These turtles were head-started and re-introduced into the wild to determine if breeding populations would survive. Currently, Luke is a PhD graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi focusing on turtle research and conservation, as well as part of the US Fish and Wildlife Alligator Snapping Turtle Species Status Assessment Team. He conducts state-wide surveys for alligator snapping turtles to assess if this species needs federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Luke also has his own reptilian friends: Donatello the Eastern River Cooter, Zoro the Pearl River Map Turtle, and Zara the Brazilian Rainbow Boa.