Ricky Pires Director,
“Wings of Hope” Program
Ms. Ricky Pires, a Florida Gulf Coast University Alumna, is the creator and director of the Wings of Hope Program. She created this program as her senior project in her senior capstone course with help from her professor at the time, and dear friend Dr. Maria Roca. Ricky was a dedicated volunteer at the Naples Conservancy Animal Hospital when she realized that the true struggle was not treating and saving these sick and injured animals, but finding them a safe and protected habitat to be released in. She decided to go to college to earn a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. Hoping to spend the rest of her years doing research on Florida native wildlife and their habitats, she soon found herself standing at the front of countless classrooms inspiring young children, teaching them about Florida wildlife, especially our endangered Florida Panther, and getting them outdoors on hikes through beautiful wild habitats. If asked, she tells you she never saw her life heading this direction. But to the over four thousand children who know her as the “panther lady”, she is more than an inspiration to them and their families who now enjoy the outdoors together, and educate other people to help save our Florida Panther.
Erica is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, who double majored in Environmental Studies and Criminal Justice. From a young age Erica has been passionate about the environment and the plants and animals inhabiting it. She likes to garden and spend as much time as she can outside or volunteering with animals. Erica was born in Port Saint Lucie Florida and moved here to pursue her dreams in environmental law and policy. Erica is currently a staff member with Wings of Hope and hopes to not only further her education but the education of others on the ecosystem that surrounds us and what we can do to protect it.
Kaycee Lovett is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University and is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies. She is from Coconut Creek, which is where she developed her love for the environment and found the beauty within the trees. Currently she hopes to be able to join the Peace Corps after graduating in order to fulfill her lifetime goal of serving both people and the planet. Though this is her first year interning at Wings of Hope she is looking forward to the experiences that she can both give and receive with her peers and the children that visit.
Caroline is currently a Junior at Florida Gulf Coast University majoring in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. Born and raised in Cape Coral, Florida, she has developed a love for the unique and exciting SWFL environment. She enjoys paddle boarding on her days off and taking beach trips to Sanibel. Caroline is a second year Program Assistant to the Wings of Hope Program and enjoys educating the elementary and university students about the Florida Panther. Through Wings of Hope she hopes to inspire students to protect the environment and animals around them.
Kelli Krebs is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University majoring in journalism and minoring in Digital Media Design and Philosophy. She is currently the editor-in-chief at FGCU’s campus newspaper, Eagle News, on the Wings of Hope staff and works throughout the Southwest Florida area as a sports reporter and photographer for the News-Press. When she’s not behind a camera or hiking kids through the wilderness, Kelli can be found secretly jamming along to the “Grease” soundtrack in her car, getting stepped on at a concert, or spending the day enjoying Southwest Florida’s outdoors. Kelli is a fan of pre-Jameis Winston Florida State, college basketball, corny puns, black bears and the Florida Panther.
Tiffany is currently a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University double majoring in Early Childhood Education and Business. From a young age she knew she had a love for children's education wanting children to know more about the world that we live in order to save it. As the president of an organization back home in sunny south Florida called Cherubs all Tiffany wants to do is change the world with the future our youth. In her spare time you can find Tiffany jamming to R&B 90's music at the beach, playing with her puppies or telling her friends something new about the environment. She just wants to change the world even if it takes one child at a time.
Matthew is currently a freshman at FGCU and is majoring in Athletic Training. Over the years, spending time outdoors camping and hiking, he has developed an immense love for our natural SWFL environment. He enjoys being active, riding his bike, running and anything to get the heart pumping. He was raised in south Florida in the city of Coral Springs. Matthew joined the Wings of Hope team to learn more about the environment, and to make a positive impact in children’s lives. Matthew is passionate about children education because he is a child at heart. He is devoted to learning about animals and ways to help preserve them before they become endangered, like the Florida Panther.
Tori is a freshman at FGCU. She is pursuing a major in Environmental Sciences. She was raised in New Smyrna Beach and spent most of her time outdoors at the beach or on nature walks. Tori developed her passion for the environment though high school classes and more hands-on work on her family farm. She also has a passion for sports; playing indoor and outdoor volleyball for over 5 years. Tori is a first year Program Assistant for Wings of Hope and enjoys working with and educating students. She hopes to continue her work to become an oceanographer.
Jordana is currently a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University majoring in Elementary Education. Jordana, a hopeful future first grade teacher, wants to work with children so she can help shape a better future. When she is not working you can find her hiking and paddle boarding with friends, watching international TV shows on Netflix and spending quality time with her sisters back home in Coral Springs, Florida (she's a triplet).