Animal Training & Research International

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Current Staff

Michelle Jones - Head Trainer

Michelle has had a love for animals since a young age. She realized her passion for marine mammals after a Dolphin Encounter experience at Discovery Kingdom. Originally from San Jose, CA, Michelle moved down to Monterey to pursue a Marine Science degree from CSU Monterey Bay. She found out about SLEWTHS through a friend and immediately applied. Michelle joined the SLEWTHS family in 2010 and reached the Head Trainer level in December of 2016. She currently is going back to school to get her teaching credential. She loves learning from Dr. Jenifer Zeligs and spreading conservation awareness to all.

Jana Martin - Senior Trainer

   Jana was raised in Santa Cruz, CA and developed a deep love of animals and the ocean at an early age. Participating in a dolphin trainer-for-a-day program in her early years helped her make the decision to pursue a career in the marine sciences and animal behavior fields.  Jana graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Marine Biology and is now working on gaining the experience that will help accomplish her goal of working in the animal world.  She happened to stumble upon the SLEWTHS project in June of 2014 when taking an animal training course taught by the director of the project.  After interning for a week, she knew that SLEWTHS was exactly where she needed to be.  She is honored to now be a part of the SLEWTHS family and is excited to create such positive, trusting relationships with these animals now and in the years to come.

Taylor Ott - Trainer

Originally from Sacramento, CA, Taylor grew a passion for working with marine mammals through annual family trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She decided to attend California State University Monterey Bay to move closer to her dream and shortly after hearing about the SLEWTHS project through the school, she was welcomed into the family in August of 2016. She is now an Assistant trainer and is excited to continue growing through the project!

                                 Bree Wheeler - Trainer

Bree is from Turlock, California and moved to Santa Cruz after graduating high school in 2014. After balancing working full time job and volunteering, she is finally graduating from Cabrillo College in December of 2020 with an A. A. in Anthropology. Bree found out about the SLEWTHS Project in 2015 and has been delighted to be able to learn from Dr. Jenifer Zeligs and the SLEWTHS family for the past 5 years. Working with animals professionally has always been the dream, and SLEWTHS has been an awesome environment to gain skills she can take into the professional animal care world!

                              Jessie Rodriguez - Trainer

Since before she could walk, Jessie has been a member at the Long Beach Aquarium. She spent countless hours at the Aquarium’s touch pools receiving hands-on experience with ocean life that quickly developed into a desire to learn more about the ocean. In 2014 she moved from Southern California to the Monterey Bay to attend CSU Monterey Bay and pursue a degree in Biology. After hearing about the SLEWTHS project through a friend, she knew she had to apply. Jessie joined the SLEWTHS family in January of 2018 and is now a Senior Animal Care staff member. She is eager to expand her animal care knowledge and start her animal training journey.

                              Kat Weinmeister - Trainer


Originally from the small town of Cool California, Kat grew up consistently around animals. Her family bought a large acreage that allowed her to have a variety of animal family members from cats and dogs to chickens, horses, goats and llamas. This continuous relationship with animals fro a young age instilled in her a strong love for animals of all kinds. This love pushed her to attend college at CSUMB as a Global Studies Major with a minor in Psychology. From this she hopes to work internationally with foreign countries to improve environmental protection laws and expand wildlife preserves. She joined SLEWTHS in November of 2017 recognizing the importance of teaching aquariums and how they help connect people with ocean life. She hopes to use her experiences here as a platform to pass on values of conservation to individuals around the world.

Cheyenne McGregor- Assistant Trainer

Growing up in the central valley, Cheyenne and her family would take annual trips to Discovery Kingdom where her passion for marine and wild life education began. Becoming eager to learn more at a young age for the ocean and wildlife led a life filled with trips to the ocean, science camps, various aquariums, and volunteering for education and rescue animal programs. After moving to Monterey to pursue her career in marine science and conservation, she heard about SLEWTHS from peers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and joined in 2018. Cheyenne is now an assistant trainer and working her way to reach her goal as a marine mammal trainer.

Kali Prescott- Assistant Trainer

As Marine Corps kid originally from Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA, Kali moved around a lot but was lucky enough to share her childhood with a sweet yellow lab as her constant companion. After many years away from California, she finally made her way back to the coast in 2014 to pursue a degree in Biology at CSUMB, graduating in 2017.  Kali took a seasonal position as a Wildlife Technician at the SPCA of Monterey County and soon after discovered the SLEWTHS project. She was fortunate enough to join the program in February of 2019. She is beginning her Master's of Marine Science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in the Fall of 2020 and hopes to pursue a career studying behavior in marine vertebrates.


Caitlyn Swe - Assistant Trainer

Haley Booth - Assistant Trainer