LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 9, 2020) — University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Equine Programs put on its first Equine Week of Service Sept. 28-Oct. 3. Armed with sanitizer, masks and the desire to give back to the equine industry, students in a leadership program, the Wildcat Wranglers, created and implemented this week of service to give students a chance to get some hands-on experience they may be missing this semester.
“We put together the UK Equine Week of Service as a way to get out into the community, out of the classroom and off our computers during a time where we are not getting as much hands-on experience as we usually would,” said Mackenzie Johnson, a Wildcat Wrangler and UK senior studying equine science and management. “We wanted to give our students a chance to get involved in the equine industry and start making those vital connections with different industry professionals, all while doing a few good deeds along the way.”
Students, faculty, staff and alumni donated around 550 hours of volunteer time to seven local equine organizations in the Lexington area including Blue Grass Farms Charities, Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, Kentucky Equine Adoption Center, Kentucky Horse Park, New Vocations, Our Mims Retirement Haven and the Secretariat Center. Students comprised 86% of the volunteers.
Students in the Wildcat Wranglers coordinated volunteers and promoted the service event via social media.
Grace Camp, a UK equine science and management senior, said she feels the event was a good way to get involved off campus.
“I wanted to sign up for the UK Equine Week of Service to help give back to the amazing equine organizations here in Central Kentucky. Also, with my classes being mostly online, I thought this would be a great way to get out of my house and make a difference,” Camp said.
Anne Boggess, a UK undergraduate student who volunteered at the Kentucky Horse Park, said it was beneficial to connect the different communities through service work.
“I think the week of service is important, because it connects so many different communities in a time where everyone is trying to find a new normal. The week put good people together with a goal of doing good work for wonderful organizations,” Boggess said.
According to Kristen Wilson, academic coordinator in UK Ag Equine Programs and advisor of the Wildcat Wranglers, the inaugural event was successful and hopefully helped equine organizations in their day-to-day functions.
“One of the goals of our Wildcat Wrangler student leadership team is to build community among our equine students. The UK Equine Week of Service is such a great way for our students to serve our local equine community in an event lead by our Wildcat Wrangler team. It has been so much fun to work with them as the team’s advisor and seeing their vision become a reality,” Wilson said.
James MacLeod, director of UK Ag Equine Programs, echoed her sentiments, adding that he hopes it will become an annual tradition.
"We can all be proud of everything the students have accomplished. The broad participation and enthusiasm are wonderful, with both the host organizations and the volunteers living the commitment to be the change you wish to see in the world,” MacLeod said.
This event was supported by local equine industry organizations. Additionally, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital provided hand sanitizer to the participating organizations and volunteers.
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