A Lifelong Passion Project
For Gabe Ligon and Josh Mueller, what began as just a seed of passion for animals and education has grown into a thriving haven for exotic animals, conservation initiatives, and educational programs.
What sets Barn Hill apart from other zoos and zoological facilities is that we place an emphasis on the animal's quality of life and their environment. You won't find a ton of concrete and observation glass at our facility, but rather open fields and grasslands that mimic natural environments that our animal ambassadors are used to.
One comment we get very often is how our animals seem very happy, and our caretakers play a big part in that happiness.
Most, if not all of our animal caretakers have previous zoo experience or have formal education & training through a bachelor's degree, or equivalent experience.
Josh is a graduate from Louisiana State University with a degree in Wildlife Ecology. He grew up in the small town of Bethany Beach on the eastern shores of Delaware. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 18 and was active until moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
He worked under Dr. Mike Metzier as a Veterinarian Technician for four years where his love for animals took root. Josh’s love and understanding of wildlife continues to grow while working at the Barn Hill Animal Preserve.
Animal Care Manager
Samantha has a BS in wildlife conservation and ecology from the University of Delaware. Since graduating, she has worked various jobs in the field of wildlife conservation, including performing bat population surveys in West Virginia and completing internships at wildlife rehabilitation centers and state parks.
She has loved animals since an early age and that love was inspired by watching many educational shows and videos about wildlife. Working at Barn Hill Preserve first as a mobile educator, and now as the animal care manager has been an amazing opportunity for Samantha because she can inspire a new generation of kids to love and respect wildlife and their habitat. (And having tons of cute, furry animal children is just an added bonus!!!)
Rachel graduated from Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania with a BS in Biology. She dreamed of being a teacher since her first day of preschool and developed a love of animals and the outdoors throughout the years. A Boy Scout summer camp gave her an opportunity to combine these passions in their Ecology-Conservation Area, and this led to similar jobs with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Rachel's position at Barn Hill Preserve combines everything she loves (wildlife, teaching, and traveling) and gives her an opportunity to educate, inspire, and bring joy to people of all ages.
Kelly is a graduate of James Madison University in Virginia and transitioned to zookeeping after a successful first career as an Emmy-nominated journalist. Her previous zoological positions working with bald eagles and Eurasian Eagle owls ignited her passion for animal training and caring for birds of prey.
Kelly’s greatest joy is spending time with her dogs Bodhi and Bear. In her spare time, she enjoys playing roller derby and is a licensed skydiver.
Kylie graduated from Indian River High School in 2022 with an animal science pathway. She now attends University of Delaware as a natural resources, wildlife, and conservation major. Kylie's passion for animals started at a young age working with horses and she is very glad to be able to continue that passion with the animal ambassadors at Barn Hill Preserve. Kylie loves having the ability to work with such amazing animals while also teaching and inspiring guests who visit the park.
Ashley graduated from Neumann University with a BA in Psychology. Her passion for animals sparked at a young age when she saw a dolphin show. In early 2022, she was given the opportunity to volunteer for a rescue and rehabilitation center for marine mammals where she got to monitor seals on the Delaware beaches.
Ashley's position at Barn Hill Preserve allows her to expand her animal knowledge and she is excited to share it with others. Since working at Barn Hill, she's developed an admiration for the spectacled owls.
In her free time, she enjoys karaoke with her husband, traveling, and beach trips. Her pug Roxy is her pride and joy.
Laurin is a passionate and dedicated individual serving as Animal Care/Mobile Crew at Barn Hill Reserve Delaware. With a background in education from Towson University, Laurin brings her expertise to the forefront in her role, delivering impactful and engaging educational programs about animals and wildlife.
Laurin's commitment to fostering a deeper connection between people and the natural world is unwavering. She believes in the power of education to inspire understanding, respect, and conservation efforts for our environment.
In her spare time, Laurin loves to adventure with her husband and the best dog ever. Together they have traveled across the country many times seeing 45/50 of the United States. She is an avid nature photographer and hiker exploring wildlife in many state and national parks.
Vienna graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology and a minor in animal behavior. In elementary school, she dressed up as a zoologist (specifically Jane Goodall) for Career Day. There was never any doubt that she would work with animals.
Originally wanting to go into research, a position working in an educational setting geared towards conservation changed her path. Barn Hill Preserve has provided Vienna with the opportunity to continue exploring the intersection between education and conservation, with some animal behavior sprinkled in.
Rachel graduated from Washington High School in 2020 with a clear passion for animals. She fostered this passion in the past by obtaining a job as a veterinarian technician in an animal hospital. Rachel has spent her life fascinated by all creatures but has a certain soft spot for reptiles (thanks to the influence of Steve Irwin).
Her goal is to erase the negative connotation that reptiles hold by showing how interesting they can be and how vital they are to our ecosystems. She knows how important it is to help guide the minds of our upcoming generations to appreciate wildlife as well as to help conserve it. Because of this, she enjoys educating our youngsters the most!
In her free time, Rachel enjoys researching reptile care and behavior in addition to watching nature documentaries with her two cats, Tofu and Sashimi.
Ashlyn graduated from Sussex Central High school in 2012, with animal science as her pathway. She handles all the office duties including, but not limited to: phone calls, emails and even booking schools programs.
Ashlyn was raised in Sussex County, and currently lives in Laurel, DE. Where she raises her 5 children, who LOVE visiting Barn Hill Preserve because “it’s the coolest job ever!” Ashlyn has always had a soft spot for animals. In her spare time, she enjoys football, racing, and spending her time with family.
Zach has worked in various creative fields: Animation, Graphic Design, Photography, Video and Motion Graphics, Video Game Production, Web and Print Media, and more all over the country. He is always informed on the latest creative, tech, and entertainment trends.
Zach is a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in Computer Animation and a graduate of Animation Mentor with a certified diploma of “Advanced Studies in Character Animation.” He's passionate about film and video games and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his three boys who love building legos and creating imaginative games.
Barn Hill's passion for protecting wildlife doesn't stop at the border. Many of our staff members take regular trips around the world to assist in emergency conservation efforts.
This picture was taken of our founder sending a drone up to survey Australian lands ravaged by the 2020 wildfires, searching for animals that survived the blaze.
KSTR Wildlife Rescue is a beautiful wildlife sanctuary with over 50 species where guests can learn about wildlife native to Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. All proceeds go towards our rescue, rehabilitation, release, and restoration projects!
KSTR is a US 501(c)3 Organization with a number of projects worth donating to such as: wildlife bridges for 22 species located in Costa Rica, protection of Sea Turtle eggs from poachers or upgrading equipment in the wildlife clinic like a new ambulance to aid in the rescue and rehabilitation of indigenous wildlife across Costa Rica
In addition to protecting and serving wildlife in danger, we also wanted to create a more direct connection between people and the wild animals they care about, whether they live in different countries or on different continents. So Global Wildlife Support was created.
A 501C-3, the main goal of Global Wildlife Support is to aid wildlife across our ever-changing planet and to help individuals and organizations who share a similar vision.
To date GWS has donated over $100,000 to conservation efforts in Australia, Guyana and Costa Rica, and has also provided hands on relief after the 2020 Australian bush fires.