Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner: KPA-CTP

Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed: CPDT-KA

Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant: ACDBC

Certified Humane Education Specialist: CHES

Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed: CBCC-KA (In Progress)

Professional Memberships

Ames Chamber of Commerce: Gold Member

Ames Community Arts Council: Silver Member

APDT: Professional Premium Member

PPG: Canine Training Professional

APHE: Member


Best Friends Animal Sanctuary: Dogtown Intern

Emerson College: MA Theatre Education

University of Utah: Honors BFA Acting, Minor Anthropology

I hold an Honors BFA in Acting from the University of Utah and an MA in Theatre Education from Emerson College.  The fields of performance and animal training both require careful observation and thoughtful interpretation of behavior, creative problem solving, and the ability to view a given situation from multiple perspectives.  Training is a highly physical skill requiring spatial awareness and precision, and my abilities as a dancer prove very useful.  My lifelong interest in primatology and my minor in anthropology enhance my understanding of canine evolution and ethology, interspecies relationships, and comparative cognition.

I have fifteen years of experience working with children, including private nannying, parent-and-child classes for infants and toddlers, performing arts classes for ages 3-12, workshops and story times at libraries, arts integration in elementary classrooms, theatre summer camps, and directing, choreographing, and performing in children's productions.  In Massachusetts I held a state teaching license as a theatre instructor.  My work with children prepared me to apply my knowledge of development and learning theory to the enrichment and education of our canine friends.

I am passionate about companion animal welfare, and I volunteer with adoptable dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women's PAWS program.  In the past I’ve volunteered with the ARL's humane education department and TheraPets program. Previously, I trained with service dog candidates for the Puppy Jake Foundation.  I'm a member of several prominent professional organizations, and I am involved in ongoing education.  During 2018 I engaged in continuing education with Karen Pryor Academy, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Pet Professional Guild, Assistance Dogs International, Denver Zoo, Denver’s Downtown Aquarium, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Minnesota Zoo, Columbus Zoo, and veterinary behaviorist Dr. Chris Pachel.

My shih-tzu poodle Marmalade is the official Plucky Paws Therapy Dog.  Marmalade holds CGC and CGCA titles with the AKC, and passed therapy dog evaluations at the national and local levels. My therapy visitation with Marmalade initially inspired me to pursue a career involving both dogs and kids.  Marmalade frequently attends promotional events and Plucky Kids educational programs, so check the Event Calendar for her upcoming appearances. To learn more about Marmalade’s story as a rescue from Puerto Rico, visit her website by clicking on the link below.