AppleTree Connection

AppleTree Connection and UCF CE Partnership Results in Recognition as #1 RBT Training Program in U.S.

Company Develops Registered Behavior Technician Program in Cooperation with UCF Continuing Education. Credits Business Success to Assistance from Florida SBDC at UCF and Florida PTAC at UCF.

August 8, 2022


Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or

                 Steven South, Consultant & PTAC Manager, FPTAC at UCF, 407.420.4859 or

Orlando, FL – Translating deep knowledge and expertise in a scientific field into a successful business is not an easy undertaking, even if you have identified a significant opportunity in the marketplace. Tara Zeller, with degrees in psychology, applied behavior analysis (ABA) and management, recognized the challenges facing career seekers in the behavioral sciences, particularly for college psychology majors and others in the social science field. In response, two and a half years ago she pivoted AppleTree Connection, a clinical ABA company, to a career and leadership organization dedicated to preparing and connecting entry level practitioners with meaningful treatment roles and leadership positions. From the beginning, Zeller sought assistance from the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF), and its government contracting affiliate the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (FPTAC at UCF), and their help has paid off for her.

Under Zeller’s guidance, AppleTree Connection has evolved into a leader amongst providers of training and mentoring for Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) specialists. RBTs, once certified, work in schools, clinics, and privately with individual clients to provide life-changing behavior support and therapy for various diagnoses such as: autism spectrum disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries. Certification based upon an exam given by a professional oversight organization is mandatory to practice as an RBT. “We are a quality provider,” explains Zeller. “We are hands on and accessible. We train, mentor, and empower and really like to work with our students to help them uncover their passion and guide them to finding work that is meaningful to them.”

“I sought out the services of the FSBDC and FPTAC because I started my company on my own,” recalls Zeller. “I needed support with the business strategy side of things. It started with a strategic business plan seminar, then to working with Steve South (FSBDC consultant and FPTAC manager) who coached me on running a business. As a solopreneur, you wear all the hats, so it was meaningful to have Steve’s assistance and someone like him to turn to who could guide me in the ways of a business owner. It’s been great, really great.”

“Since I’ve been working with the FSBDC and PTAC, the major changes I have seen in my business start with me as a now confident CEO and business owner,” remarks Zeller. Her confidence was exhibited prominently when she pivoted her clinical ABA business to create a UCF-branded RBT Certification Course that prepares students to become RBTs and places RBTs with employers; an attractive career pathway for UCF graduates seeking a meaningful career and making an impact in their communities.

To her credit, Zeller and her team developed the program and have been teaching the classes since inception with outstanding results: The UCF RBT Program (Zeller’s program) was recognized as the #1 training provider in the country and AppleTree Connections itself ranks as the #3 provider by the Behavior Analysts Certification Board (BACB) based upon its student’s RBT Exam success rate. Building upon that success, she is looking to expand, add instructors, partner with other universities, and duplicate the model throughout the U.S.

“My advice for a business owner considering working with the FSBDC or FPTAC is: Do not hesitate. Go for it,” Zeller concludes. “The services that they offer are truly invaluable.”

For information about AppleTree Connection, please visit


About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2021, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 8,200 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.5 billion in sales growth; $88.8 million in capital formation; $72.4 million in government contract awards; and 137 new businesses started. For more information, please visit

About the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (FPTAC at UCF)

Government Contracting Services offered by the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at the University of Central Florida provide high-value, confidential one-on-one consulting at no cost to help Florida businesses prepare, research, and bid on federal, state, and local government contracts. Since 1986, Florida PTAC client businesses statewide have won $9.5 billion in contract awards, helping to create and save almost 215,000 jobs. This Procurement Technical Assistance Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense. Government contracting services are offered by the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center headquartered at the University of West Florida. For more information, please visit

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2021, Florida SBDCs provided 157,841 hours of professional business consulting to more than 18,379 client businesses. Based on the results from the network’s latest economic impact analysis, the FSBDC’s services resulted in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $7.4 billion in sales generated; $381.6 million in government contracts acquired; and $528.4 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit