Student News

For the love of horses — UK grad ready to diversify the agriculture industry

Harrison Goode posing with his gradating cap
Harrison Goode helping students clean horses
Harrison Goode showing horses
Harrison Goode leading horses
Harrison Good throwing cap in air

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 29, 2024) — How does a guy from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, end up in Lexington as a student at the University of Kentucky? One word — horses.

“I wanted to be closer to Central Kentucky in the heart of horse country,” said graduating senior Harrison Goode. “I figured if I wanted to learn from the best, I needed to live closer to them.”

Goode first came to UK in 2020 with the support of UK’s Lyman T. Johnson Scholarship. His passion for the equine industry led him to enrolling in UK’s Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE). When it came time to pick a major, there was no doubt equine science and management would be his focus.

“I chose my major because I found a new passion for the field of agriculture,” said Goode. “I wanted to learn more about the management of horses and how we can care for them more ethically.”

Initially, coming to the large campus, far from home, was a bit of a transition.

“My first week at UK was scary!” Goode recalls. “There weren’t a lot of people that looked like me walking around campus or in my classes.”

But Goode, an Eagle Scout, didn’t take long finding his place on campus.

“I remember the warm welcome the equine department gave me and going to meals with my roommate,” said Goode.

And his professors in the equine department immediately connected with his love of horses and interest in diversifying the industry.

“Upon first meeting Harrison, I found him to be a charming, emotionally mature young man,” said Camie Heleski, senior lecturer in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. “He’s been willing to put himself out there to help make changes in the horse industry (and the overall agriculture industry), while pushing for more diverse representation.”

Goode’s work in helping expose new audiences to the equine world was not only academic, but a passion that led him to creating a community beyond the campus.

“It is heartwarming to see him pursue his career all the while wanting to ensure this campus and community is left better,” said Kendriana Price, Ph.D., associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion in Martin-Gatton CAFE. “Over the years, I’ve watched him serve as a mentor to his peers in MANRRS, step up his involvement on the broader campus and help lead the inaugural Equine is for All program this past fall.”

And it was the Equine is for All program that would become the crowning achievement of his UK experience. With his mentor Jermo Reese, Goode was able to organize a showmanship challenge for Kentucky middle and high school students to have an immersive experience with horses.

“They learned how to groom, lead and show the horses,” explained Goode. “This event was particularly important for the diverse perspectives from our judging panel and different teams that presented to the students.”

Even though Goode came to UK for the equine program, he was able to make a mark throughout campus. He was crowned Mr. Black UK during the 2023 Homecoming celebration. He also served as a Wildcat Wrangler equine ambassador for the UK Ag Equine Programs, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion charter committee member for the American Saddlebred Horse Association. Last fall, he was honored with the Lyman T. Johnson Torchbearer Award.

“Those of us who have taught for years can recognize that special student, not just by grades or class engagement, but by body language,” said Steven Isaacs, Ph.D., extension professor and co-director for the Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program. “Harrison Goode is one of those special students. He gets it. He makes me want to teach. He’s the one whose career you follow because you know they will make a difference and you hope you were a little part of that.”

And for Goode, the future is — green.

“I will be working for John Deere post-graduation,” Goode said. “I’d like to get a Ph.D. at some point in the future as well.”

Goode is not taking much of a break as he expects to begin his position with the company’s lifecycle services implementation team in June. The position will be located at John Deere world headquarters in Moline, Illinois.

Faculty members think he’ll be a perfect fit.

“Everything I’ve seen is that his emotional maturity and his astute assessments of DEI issues make him incredibly valuable to every endeavor he puts his heart and soul into,” said Heleski.

As he prepares to leave campus, folks who’ve worked with Goode during his time at UK are sure he’s just starting to tap into his potential.

“I have observed how he has fostered community with his peers and works to bring others to a sense of community through his interactions,” said Price. “It is this strength that I know he will thrive in his next adventure as he transitions to John Deere.”

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.