AYHC on a Mission

American Youth Horse Council’s mission is “to have the greatest impact on youth by providing quality tools to those who influence youth in the horse industry,” said Liza Holland, AYHC executive director, during the council’s recent annual meeting. Representatives from 25 horse associations, 12 equine companies, 24 universities and colleges, and 27 states broke through breed and discipline barriers to discuss the future of horses and the young people who love them.

The council set goals to validate the measurable impact of equine experiences on youth; continue to compile, develop, and distribute high-quality educational material; and promote the organization to diversify its membership.

One of the top projects for 2000 is to develop and implement new fundraising programs for statistical studies on the impact of equine experiences on youth, Holland said. There currently are no such studies.

The symposium featured various seminars on topics such as teamwork and cooperation, teaching more effective riding lessons, developing fun and educational programming using the horse as the theme, the art of teaching kids, and how to identify program funding. About 45 youth attended a career fair and met people employed in various aspects of the horse industry.

Anne Loiselle, administrator of the Standardbred Equestrian Program for the United States Trotting Association, said she planned to apply what she had learned toward the harness racing industry. Loiselle met with various breed and discipline representatives. “Sometimes we are so divided in the horse industry we lose sight of the big picture,” she said. “Going to something like this helps you focus your energies in a more positive direction. One person can affect the life of a child, or an adult.”

New officers elected were President Patricia Comerford, extension horse program coordinator at Pennsylvania State University; Vice President Kent Sturman, general manager of the National High School Rodeo Association; Secretary Jeannie Griffiths, extension horse specialist at Cornell University; and Treasurer Jean Donley, executive director of the Pony of the Americas. The immediate-past president is Ann Swinker, extension horse specialist at Colorado State University. New board members include Christy Landwehr, youth coordinator of the International Arabian Horse Association; Jeannie Griffiths, extension horse specialist at Cornell University; Colleen Brady, assistant professor at Purdue University; Julie Goodnight, program director at the Certified Horsemanship Association; Nancy Kadwill, chair of the Eastern National 4-H Roundup and a county extension agent in Pennsylvania; and Linda Starnes, youth coordinator of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association.

For more information on AYHC call 800/TRY-AYHC or visit www.ayhc.org.

About the Author

Sarah Evers Conrad

Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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