Archive: Volunteer of the Year Award 2004-2016

2016 – David Distler

David is one of the most respected horse show managers in the United States; he has served as an official at show jumping events throughout the world. Despite his busy schedule he has served on a variety of USHJA committees over the years and is committed in everything he undertakes. In addition to currently serving as a Board Member, he serves on the USHJA Executive Committee, Rules Committee, Officials Education Committee, Chair of the Jumper Working group, Thoroughbred Task Force, Joint Owners Task Force, Joint Equitation Task Force just to name a few. He does not take these committee and board responsibilities lightly and consistently goes above and beyond to do his part in making our sport and the USHJA the best it can be. In all of his roles, he brings a tremendous amount of professionalism. When David gives his opinion on an issue, you can be sure it is derived from his vast knowledge and life-long experience in many capacities of our sport. He truly goes above and beyond in his commitment to serving the organization and in turns our members.

2015 – Debbie Bass

Debbie has been on a variety of committees over the years. She is meticulous and committed in everything she undertakes. In addition to serving as a board member currently, she serves on the Joint Owners Task Force, USHJA Executive Committee, Communications Ad Hoc Committee, and Sport Growth Task Force Advisory Group. She takes each one of these committee and board responsibilities on to the fullest - diving into the issues and opportunities in a hands-on way.

She spearheaded the work of the Communications Ad Hoc Committee that re-envisions our communications approach to help support growth of the sport but also better serve our current members in a meaningful way. She spent countless hours analyzing data and tools that could support this effort.

In all of her roles, she makes a point to always come to the table informed and with a well-researched opinion that will contribute to the betterment of our sport, and she is always one of those people who is willing to pitch in and help figure out a solution. She truly goes above and beyond in her commitment to serve the organization and in turn our members.

2014 – Bill Rube

Bill is someone who is truly involved in day to day activities from the rule making process to preserving our history, and even finding ways to fund programs. There is no end to what he is willing to do for our betterment. It is Bill’s belief that this sport will be more successful the more people stay involved, and he regularly encourages people to do just that. He is dedicated to preserving our history, which is evident due to his constant work on the Wheeler Museum. And, if you haven’t been able to see it in person, you have him to thank for a video that was produced, and is available online for a virtual museum tour. This is evidence of his feeling that you have to know where you come from to have a firm grasp on where you’re headed.

And for anyone who loves the hunter breeding side of our sport, you can also thank Bill for his work on the Sally B. Wheeler breeding Championships. He first set out to fund the program, and far exceed financial goals. He then set about making improvements to the event. The outcome will be a more level playing field, broader participation through the inclusion of amateur handlers, adjustments to the format including performance classes and a hunter hack, as well as the “Triangle Format” to better see the horse’s gaits, and finally a Leading Owner Award because we all know we’d be lost without them.

There is no doubt about this man’s passion for the hunter/jumper discipline. Just take the many facebook groups he coordinates as an example. Each of them meant to draw attention not to himself, but to several aspects of the sport.

2013 - Colleen McQuay

In recent years our discipline, in particular the hunter side has made some major advances in exhibitor participation, spectator attendance, and broad based sponsor attention due to many factors. The most high profile of these factors involves the creation of The International Hunter Derbies, and over this past year, the highly successful Pre-Green Incentive Program. While it took teams of dedicated minds to conceive of these new programs, there is one person who’s been most influential in designing the format, and selflessly devoted to seeing it succeed. But not even she could predict the level of popularity and success of a Pre-Green Championship that would culminate in 270 enrolled horse, 107 competitors at the championship, and a grand total of $157,990 in prize money. But that was just a start to the week, which would also feature the 5th annual International Hunter Derby Championship, offering an additional $160,000, paid out for the first time in a tier system also of her design. This system was an adaptation that would allow up and coming riders a chance to gain ground on their fellow competitors, and offer even more rewards. This dedicated, driven volunteer is none other than Colleen McQuay. Colleen has long been known for inventive ideas with the potential to take our sport to new levels. She was among the founders of the Legacy Cup, which featured a bracketed system, offering multiple levels of reward, depending on prior accomplishment. These principles would later become the foundations of the Derby, and Pre-Green Programs, and a primary reason for their success. Many of these principles were inspired by another sport in which Colleen is heavily involved, the extremely popular and fast growing sport of reining. Along with her help, we’re taking our sport to levels we may never have imagined without Colleen. And all of this work on our behalf is balanced alongside a premier breeding operation in Texas, competition in two sports, management of some of her own very respected events, and of course being a great wife, mother, and grandmother.

2012 - Mary Babick

Mary Babick has dedicated nearly four decades to the betterment of the equestrian sport. Her greatest talents in teaching shine through as she works closely with the young up-and-coming riders of our sport. Mary has utilized her vast equestrian knowledge and experiences and gives generously of herself to serve the USHJA on behalf of the youth of the equestrian community. She is Chair of the Youth Committee, a member of the EAP Task Force, serves on the USHJA Board of Directors and Chairs the USEF National Hunter Committee. Mary has been immensely involved in the Emerging Athletes Program and the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge program. She wrote the HQC study guide, the current events study guide for EAP as well as the written test for all ten regional clinics and the Nationals. She also traveled to two EAP Regionals during 2012 to act as the Volunteer Coordinator and she was the organizer for the inaugural HQC Finals in November. The USHJA is truly grateful for all of Mary’s vital contributions and tireless efforts on the behalf of members.

2011 - Jane Dow-Burt

Jane Dow-Burt’s dedication spans several years and as a lifelong equestrian, Jane has trained many students and horses, resulting in numerous champions.

As member of the Zone 1 Committee, the Competition Standards Committee and the Hunter Breeding Task Force, she continually assists our organization.

After a fire devastated the Westbrook Hunt Club in 1994, Jane worked tirelessly to rebuild the business, which her family has owned since 1967. The Westbrook Hunt Club now stands proudly and has played host to a USHJA Trainer’s Symposium and two Emerging Athlete Program Training sessions. Her generosity in allowing the USHJA access to her facility is inspiring.

2010 - Craig Dobbs, Carmel, IN

Craig Dobbs certainly fits the description of an active volunteer. As a successful business man, he thinks nothing of dedicating his free time. As the father of an active competitor, he has gone out of his way to support our sport.

Craig believes in supporting equestrian sports, so it is no wonder that he dedicates so much of his time as a director on the USHJA Foundation Board and a member of the Capital Campaign Committee, working in capacities where he has spread the idea of volunteerism throughout our sport. In between being a husband and father and in addition to all his business and philanthropic endeavors, he still finds time to serve on the USEF High Performance Show Jumping Owners Task Force and on the Zone 5 Jumper Committee.

2009 - Shelley Campf, Canby, OR

Specializing in hunters, jumpers and equitation at the national level, Shelley Campf shares her knowledge of the sport by sitting on the USHJA’s Board of Directors and serving as Chairman of the USHJA Trainer Certification Program and Vice Chairman of the USHJA Zone 9 Jumper Committee. In addition, she is also the NAYRC Zone Coordinator, USEF Prix de States Zone Coordinator, USEF Zone 9 Pony Jumper Coordinator, and is a member of USHJA Equitation Task Force. A past president of the North West Horse Council, she is a national advocate of Zone 9 and other smaller regions. She and her husband Jeff own and operate their own farm, Oz Incorporated, where Shelley works with Lucy Franklin to manage seven premiere horse shows in the Portland area.

2009 - Ron Danta, Rembert, SC

In August of 2009, Ron Danta was on hand at the Kentucky Horse Park to see the result of two years of hard work with the overwhelming success of the Inaugural International Hunter Derby Finals. As chair of the High Performance Hunter Committee, he has devoted countless hours to the planning and organization of the USHJA International Hunter Derby series. In his work as Chair of the Trainers Committee, Ron has been the driving force behind the extremely successful Trainers Symposiums. USHJA will be expanding this program in the near future to encompass all levels of participants, so his schedule is only going to get busier. He has worked to develop the Trainers Q & A in USHJA In Stride magazine and the Trainers Mentor Program to provide young professionals with access to advice from seasoned trainers. In addition to his duties as a leader within USHJA, Ron and his partner Danny Robertshaw, have a thriving training business and still find time to rescue and find homes for hundreds of homeless animals.

2008 - Mindy Darst, Lebanon, OH

Mindy Darst's responsibilities are seemingly endless, but she handles it all with a professional and positive attitude that brings out the best in those surrounding her. A wife and mother first, she has dedicated her life to training horses and riders, and excels with young riders as evidenced by her own daughter's 2008 championship in the Small Pony Division at the Washington International Horse Show. At her barn, Lochmoor Stables in Lebanon, OH, she has made a commitment to teach those that come to her the importance of horsemanship, responsibility, sportsmanship and compassion for the horse.

While leading a busy professional life, Mindy finds time to share her passion and energy with USHJA by serving on several committees, and in many cases, taking a leadership role. As Chairman of Zone 5, she has been instrumental in developing and implementing the Zone 5 College Scholarship Award and Horsemanship Class.

These awards are both firsts of their kind in the USHJA Zones and Mindy has worked relentlessly to see that this program became a reality. As Chairman of the USHJA Pony Task Force, she and co-chair Sissie Anderton have continued to raise the bar with the USEF Pony Finals. During their time at the reins, the Finals have grown from about 600 ponies involved to numbers reaching close to 800 in 2008.

Her positive outlook on life and the way she approaches teaching inspires many. Her positive ideology guides her as an instructor, pushing her students a little further than they thought possible.

2007 - Shelby French, Sweet Briar, VA

Shelby French created the riding program at St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, NC, that naturally led her to the five-day instructor clinics at Sweet Briar with Paul Cronin. When Paul Cronin recruited her for the position as Director of Riding at Sweet Briar, she said, "It wasn't a real hard sell." She has been the Director of Riding at Sweet Briar since 2000. Relatively new to governance on a national level, Shelby has jumped in with both feet.

She is always courteous and helpful to staff and fellow members, has been instrumental in developing grass roots outreach programs, has traveled to the Lexington office for program meetings, has been a member of the Board of Directors, Co-chaired the Affiliates Council and Chairs the Community Horse Show Committee. She made it her mission to develop the Affiliate Equitation Awards program and to see it implemented for 2008. Her positive outlook on life and the way she approaches teaching her students touches many students' lives each year. Shelby describes people and horses as "winners" or "potential winners." This positive ideology guides her as an instructor, pushing students a little further than they thought possible. Shelby French understands that her students are becoming new people transitioning into adults. Her recommendation to teenagers thinking about going to an equine studies college is to "get the best education you can get; have diverse experiences, internships and do it to the absolute best of your ability; take responsibility, step up, get involved."

2006 - Geoff Teall, Wellington, FL

Whether working on revisions to our system of licensing and educating officials, assisting with creating and implementing the Trainers Symposium, or revising and developing curriculum for the USEF Licensed Officials Clinics, Geoff obviously doesn't sleep. As one of the leaders of the Trainers Committee, he has been instrumental in the creation of the Trainers Directory, the Trainers Question and Answer Forum, Trainers Resource Guide and the Trainers Mentor Program. As Chair of the Special Judges Group, he has worked tirelessly with members of the USEF LOC, in particular Thom Brede, to revise the licensing process for judges, particularly the Fast Track and hopefully the new Judges Mentoring Program. Geoff never says "NO" when it's for USHJA and for helping our sport. Somehow he has managed to spend the same amount of time refining and revising the curriculum for educating our licensed officials. If this is not enough, he has also spent hours working with the Trainers Certification Committee to help develop this future program. Whenever he becomes involved with a project, you can bet he will take his service seriously and that he will not rest until the project is the best it can be and is completed. Geoff received a Crystal bowl from Fire & Ice designs and will have his name engraved on the Wide Rill Farm Perpetual Trophy.

2005 - Beth Miner, Hugo, MN

Beth Miner took a prominent role in the founding of the USHJA and is a driving force behind its growth and prominence in the industry. Without her sharp eye and insight into the sport, the organization wouldn’t be where it is today. As a child, she grew up foxhunting and later became a horse show mom before showing in the Adult Amateur and Amateur Owner classes herself. Always interested in the governance side of the sport, Miner served on the Minnesota Hunter Jumper Association board for 10 years and spent two years as the chairman.

Miner is the USHJA’s Secretary and sits on its Board of Directors. She also takes an active role on the following several USEF committees, including: Board of Directors, Planning Committee, National Hunter Committee and the National Affiliates Working Group.

2004 - Mr. and Mrs. Cortwright Wetherill, Jr., Wellington, FL