Owners:  Jill and Jason Lydic

Jill has been working with and training animals her whole life. Her desire to care for them led to four years of experience as a Veterinary Technician, providing her with extensive knowledge in first aid and preventative care. She was always most fascinated by behavior, though, and that interest led her to pursue a career in marine mammal training while doing some dog training on the weekends. For nine years, Jill worked with gray, harp, and harbor seals and Atlantic and Pacific bottlenose dolphins, gaining valuable experience in positive reinforcement training techniques. She also attended various training workshops involving walruses, sea lions, penguins, otters, and elephants. Training large mammals to participate in medical exams voluntarily requires plenty of patience, and Jill’s compassion for animals is obvious when you see her interact with them. As a Senior Marine Mammal Trainer, she had the opportunity to train three dolphins from birth, so she has the skills needed to work with young, naive animals. She enjoys watching the animals (and their humans!) learn and helping people bond with their dogs during the training process. Her own dogs are her children, so she understands the importance of having them in your life.

Jason has worked with numerous exotic and sometimes rare animals, including amphibians such as salamanders and poison dart frogs, large reptiles like crocodilians and anacondas, as well as primates, birds, hoofstock, and venomous insects. He has assisted in the training of pygmy marmosets, golden lion tamarins, and a variety of bird species. His eight years of college education to the level of a Master’s degree in Biology provides him with a strong background in animal science and management. He has extensive zoo and aquarium experience and his attention to detail when it comes to caring for animals is meticulous. He is extremely dedicated to animals and was the brains behind the development of YOU WORK, I’LL PLAY.

Jill and Jason share their home with two nutty Jack Russell Terriers, Zipper (the ball obsessed) and ZigZag (a.k.a. Chicken Legs), pictured below.







Supervisor:  Jackie Novak

Jackie Novak has loved and worked with animals her whole life. She has worked quite a bit in the rescue field and has been a vital part of the YWIP team for many years.  She has been known to make special treats for the daycare dogs and is always showering them with love.  At home, Jackie takes care of four dogs, ten donkeys, and John, her partner in crime since 2006. (She readily admits that John is the hardest to care for and that she will never again adopt another human male!!)

John Novak

John Novak has worked with animals his entire life, starting with his work on horse farms in Kentucky which began with mucking stalls at age seven.  In his work at the stables, John groomed and hot walked Secretariat, assisted jockeys Pat Day and Willie Shumaker at the races, and even met the Queen of England!  He has also worked at dairy farms and animal shelters, so there aren’t many domesticated animals that he hasn’t cared for.  At home, he and Jackie care for their brood while Jackie does her best to keep John in line!!

Jaclyn Roebke

Jaclyn was locally born and raised in Candler and has been surrounded by animals all her life.  Her family currently includes two cats named Mittens and Lucy, a poodle mix named Buddy, a chiweenie named Sprinkles, and a Papillon named Sammy, who is pictured with Jaclyn.  Her passion for animals led her to YWIP, working part time with us while holding down a full time veterinary assistant position.

Weekend Supervisor: Red Carithers

Red (not his real name) is a native of Western North Carolina, hopping around between Hendersonville, Fletcher, Leicester, Candler, Asheville, and now Waynesville.  He and his wife Rhiannon have four rescue dogs: Buddy, Charley Rose, Boone, and Keanu.  Red is balancing work and school with the goal of becoming a social worker when he grows up.  Red is reclusive at first but once you get to know him he really comes out of his shell (or crate).  When he’s not working or in class, you can often find the Carithers out hiking with the dogs.  Little known fact:  Red is Larry Bird’s half brother.

Anna O’Neill

Anna is originally from Marion but moved to Asheville in 2017.  She has an Associate’s Degree from McDowell Tech and has diverse work experience including two years in a veterinary office and six years as a tour guide at Linville Caverns.  In her spare time she enjoys reading and hiking, and since she has no animals of her own at this time, she showers all of yours with all of the love that she has to give!  Anna is camera shy so there is no picture of her…you’ll just have to meet her in person.

Rachel Nuzzo

Rachel was born in Alabama, spent time in Tampa, then moved to Waynesville in 2010.  She has worked with horses and competed in rodeo events (barrel racing and pole bending) for 11 years.  Then she and her horse, Tigger, ran an equine boarding facility for a year and a half.  Rachel also worked with police dogs, training them in bite work and protection.  She is currently taking online courses and doing some shadowing work to get her certification as a Veterinary Technician.  Her derpy Belgian Malinois, Gator, keeps her very busy, both at daycare and at home!  

Stephanie Thurman

Stephanie is Asheville born and raised!  She is a baker by training, following in the footsteps of her grandparents, and owned her own bakery for 20 years before burning out (pun intended) and selling it in 2016.  She decided she needed a change and wanted to work with animals, so she came out of retirement to join the team here at YWIP.  She does have animal experience as a mother of four fur babies (Snoopy, Sweet Sally, Edgar Lamar, and Cora Leonard Paws) and has extensive experience with farm animals and as an amateur horsewoman.  She is excited about this career change and we are excited that she knows how to bake delicious goodies!