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Meet the AGS Board

Board Members Show Officials
Libby Hanna, President Jo Kelley, Show Secretary
Donna Anastasi, Vice-President President Emeritus
Amy Paben, Secretary-Treasurer Janet Morrow
Kylee Dickey  
Judi Poirier  
Michele Rush  

Libby Hanna

Through my childhood and into my adult life, I always had a cat, a bird or a couple of goldfish, one species at a time, nothing unusual. Then one day, I picked up a complete aquarium set-up at a yard sale and we added a couple of surprisingly resilient goldfish to the two cats in our household. Little did I know I had cracked open the door for a flood of creatures to follow.

My daughter Ruth led us (circuitously) to our first three gerbils, who we adopted at a 4-H show: Sparrow and Zoean elderly, dark-eyed white mother and her middle-aged lilac daughters. First one then another passed away; and we went searching for a new companion for the survivor. As luck would have it, a Google search led me to Donna Anastasi the day before the Nashua, NH AGS show, which we decided to attend. It reminded me of the horse shows I attended as a teen, and I realized immediately I'd found my next hobby.

Our gerbil kennel Shawsheen River Gerbils has grown to include breeding, rescue work, and support for teachers who use gerbils in the classroom. I work in conjunction with several area humane societies and with other rescue networks like Mainely Rat Rescue to place gerbils in new homes. While we've had many other rodent pets over the years, we now have only our chinchilla, Dusty, three cats, and our large gerbil clan.

To pay for water bottles and vet bills, I run a small business as a self-employed bookkeeper. I have been on the AGS Board for several years and am honored to serve in the role of President.

Contact Libby

Donna Anastasi

I live in Southern New Hampshire in a big house in the woods with my husband and two daughters.  Growing They're all so cute!up my parents didn't like keeping pets, so I must still be reacting! We share our home with: a cockapoo dog, a pug, an American Eskimo, a few other rodent pets, and twenty-something gerbils.

After getting two gerbils “for the kids” several years ago, I quickly become charmed by these delightful little creatures. Next came breeding, first from local gerbils, then getting very rare at-the-time gerbils from as far away as Texas and Colorado and introducing these colors to New England. Soon after that came a total gerbil addiction. I’ve been an active member of the AGS since soon after it was established, helped organize the first gerbil show in this country, and am a certified AGS judge. I also wrote the book: Gerbils: The Complete Guide to Gerbil Care, published by BowTie Press and a second book in the same series on Chinchillas. More recently, I've turned to writing fiction with my book Spin The Plate.

Currently ABC Gerbils has three breeding lines: 1) extreme mottles, 2) selfs with no white markings on the chin or paws; 3) gorgeous Siamese and Burmese. In my real life I have a high responsibility, high stress job. I love gerbil care and breeding because it is a wonderful combination of being simple, relaxing, and yet challenging. Plus my gerbils are always happy to see me, standing on their hind legs begging to come out.

Contact Donna

Amy Paben

I live in western Oregon with my husband and we have two grown children. We share our home with two Shetland Sheepdogs, a Pug, three indoor cats, some freshwater tropical fish, five Roborovski dwarf hamsters, five degus, some llamas, and eighteen gerbils.

I had my first pair of gerbils in 1972. I didn’t get back into gerbils until after my children’s hamsters passed away in 1996. They wanted something less boring and more active. Of course! Gerbils! After checking out the Internet for information and discovering all the new colors, gerbil genetics and breeding became my passion. I was on the Gerbil Mailing List and joined the AGS when it began in 1998. I served on the original Committee. In the fall of 1999 my gerbil population reached its peak at 123, and I scaled back considerably. I still enjoyed my gerbils, but took some time off from actively breeding and from being active in the AGS.

Now that our children are grown I’m able to spend time again with what I love. I attended the 2004 Midwest Show and the 2005 Northeast Show. I volunteered at the Midwest Show with Health Inspections and assisted the Judges at the Northeast Show. I currently serve on the Ethics Committee and am working on becoming a certified AGS Judge. Gerbils NW has an average of two litters a year. While I still love 'all the pretty colors', my focus is on keeping my gerbils well, happy, and healthy. I want to contribute so that the AGS continues to develop and grow. I learned so many things ‘the hard way’ when I first had pet gerbils. To have the AGS available to educate, assist and support those who love and care for gerbils is my goal.

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Kylee Dickey
Board Member

Nellie with KyleeGrowing up, our family pets included goldfish, hermit crabs, and a colony of ants in an ant farm. When I adopted my first pair of gerbils, Audrey and Ramona, in 2002, they were my first four-legged, furry pets. Audrey and Ramona were the perfect starter gerbils. I didn’t know what I was doing, but Audrey and Ramona were very calm, friendly, and patient, as I learned the right ways to care for a pair of gerbils.

Today, I enjoy educating others about the benefits of choosing gerbils as pets and helping others learn how to keep their gerbils happy and healthy. I’ve dedicated my time as an AGS Board member to this cause, and in my free time, I maintain my own informative, educational gerbil Web site, Twin Squeaks Gerbils, which is aimed at pet owners who need to learn important things, such as what types of beddings are safe, how to tell if a gerbil has a respiratory infection, and what items sold in pet shops are not safe. I wanted to design a site that would be fun and that would attract the average family with pet gerbils... hopefully giving them the opportunity to find more accurate answers to their questions than they'd get if they went to the average pet shop.

I am also a certified judge for American Gerbil Society Gerbil Shows and frequently travel across the country to judge gerbil shows. When judging, I’m always thrilled to see so many gerbils who have been responsibly bred, meet our show standards, are tame, and have charming personalities.

My current gerbils include the super-tame Marco & Polo, the high-strung little Bach, Smurf (one of the first blue gerbils born in the U.S.), the energetic Sheldon, Koren (a retired AGS Champion), and very friendly girls Hallie & Cassie. BWC’s Keegan is also currently residing at Twin Squeaks.

My non-gerbil hobbies include Web design, crafts, genealogy, photography, and just about anything that involves both organization and creativity.

Contact Kylee

Judi Poirier
Board Member

I know that many of you already know me and my daughter Emily from the shows that we have attended, but you probably don't know much about me.

I work from home for a large corporation. I interface with a variety of the company's vendors and make sure that they are providing us with the type of service and support that we need. I also help the staff in our offices resolve any issues that they may have around processes and equipment. I also manage special projects for them to help resolve issues that we may have. I worked on a previous Winter Olympics to make sure that all of the television network's circuits were all up to date with any changes so that they would not fail during the telecasts. I also manage various projects for them to make sure that they get completed in a timely manner.

Other organizations that Emily and I have been involved with include the German Shepherd Rescue of New England. We worked at the events that they have each year, such as their Walk And Wag in October and the auction that they hold each April. We make a special project for each auction. Last year, we made a quilt with each dog's picture, name, and year of adoption. This year, we are making a scrapbook with each dog's picture and stories about how they came to be at the rescue, the wonderful life that they now have as adopted dogs, or unfortunately, the sad stories of the dogs that came into our care and passed on before they found their forever home. Besides supporting these activities, I pick up their mail and sort through it, keeping a record of the checks that come into the rescue. I pull together all the notes that are also included and make sure that each piece of mail gets to the appropriate person.

As for the animals in our life, we have two German Shepherd dogs, a number of chinchillas and a few gerbils. We recently moved from Massashusetts to Montana.

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Michele Rush
Board Member

Iíve always had animals in my life. While growing up it was dogs, cats, and parakeets. When I relocated to Omaha in 2000 I didnít have any animals with me and I didnít have time to find a place that allowed cats or dogs. I first got a parakeet, but as nice as they are I wanted more. In 2002 I got a pair of male gerbils from the local animal shelter. In 2003 I joined the AGS in after looking for additional information on gerbils when I lost one of the pair. Iíve been a member and have continued to care for and raise gerbils ever since.

Iíve also had guinea pigs, hamsters, degus and rats in the past several years. Currently I have gerbils, guinea pigs and 2 cats.

Iíve served on the Ethics committee, as a board alternate and have co-coordinated two Mid-West Shows. At the 2011 MW Show the kennel finally earned its first BOS and I am very close to having my first championship gerbil (within the kennel, we can boast that Herman (one of the few Grand Champion gerbils) was bred here). I am looking forward to continuing to serve the AGS and playing a more active role in the lives of our little friends.

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Jo Kelley
Show Secretary

Tag of Black Wolf ClanGerbils came into my life when I was in High School, around 1986-87 in South TX. My Biology class raised some Agouti pups from an Agouti pair and I took home two brothers when the pups were weaned. They were named Coors and Spudz (as the beer commercials with the surfing dog were very popular in this coastal town).

I also ended up rescuing a white lab rat from school that I named Tribble (Star Trek influence). He needed a home after school was over for the summer. Along this time period, Smurf (more 80's influence), my very very sweet golden Syrian hamster, also came to live with me, purchased from a pet store. Rodents as pets have been a part of my life ever since, but it has always been gerbils that were my constant companions. No matter where I have lived since college, I have always owned at least one pair of gerbils as pets.

Black Wolf Clan (BWC) began in 1998 when I joined the AGS, GML, and NGS. I was fascinated by all the available colors and genetics of gerbils! I took home my first black gerbil (TJ) from the pet store, along with 'her' brother, an agouti named Cinnammon and 6 months later, the two "brothers" had pups. (TJ being a female, I discovered!) Luckily the AGS and gerbil community was there to guide me along!!

Currently, I serve as the Show Points Secretary (keeping up with Show Points earned) and also record the Gerbil Registrations -- two jobs which I love! I currently live in Kentucky with my 6 cages of gerbils, one hamster, and two horses.

Contact Jo

Janet Morrow
President Emeritus

I have always loved children and animals, and have had a house full of both for years.  My husband and I have twelve children, five of whom are out and on their own.  The other seven range in age from fourteen down to five. We have adopted special needs and one waiting sibling group. (Blind, CP, RED, FAS)

Currently we have one Pug, and our small gerbil clan.  We bought our first pair of gerbils way back in 1985, and have loved them ever since.  We have bred Color Point Slates, Siamese, Color Point Gray Agouti, Argente Cream, Argente Golden, Lilacs, Doves, and REW. We currently have one breeding pair, since Northern Maine has a very limited market. I believe that breeders should have high ethics, which for me means not producing gerbils that I can not guarantee a good home for.

We love the quality of life and the "back to nature" atmosphere of Northern Maine. Having lived around the United States, the Philippines, and Okinawa we returned home to Presque Isle, Maine. The only drawback in lack of a market for my gerbil pups. I love to breed, and would have numerous pairs if possible.

Mountain Ash GerbilsTo keep me from sitting at home with nothing to do  ;- } , I run a graphic / web design business. Between my business, Mountain Ash, and the AGS I spend much of my day at the computer. (Luckily all but one of my children are in school!) Two of my tanks of gerbils, my breeding pair and the nusery, live on my computer desk. I get to watch the while I work, and they are use to seeing me all the time.

I did not seek after the position of AGS President, but happened to trip over it one day. With the resignation of our previous president I had to make a decision; to allow the AGS to flounder and possible fall apart, or to step in and take action. So, here I am....

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