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AYHC Board of Directors

Dean Jousan

Dr. Dean Jousan


Dean Jousan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences where he works as the Extension 4-H Livestock Specialist. Dr. Jousan's responsibilities involve needs assessment, planning, execution and evaluation of innovative animal science youth programs and activities. More specifically, he oversees all state-wide 4-H livestock and horse shows, contests, workshops, and trainings for Extension agents.

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Dr. Karen Waite

President Elect

Dr. Karen Waite coordinates the MSU Horse Management Program. Her teaching roles include a variety of equine courses and she is the faculty advisor to the MSU Equestrian team.  A Past-President of the American Youth Horse Council and Michigan Quarter Horse Association, Karen has judged large multi-breed open shows and state fairs around the country.  With a Doctoral degree in Sports Psychology with an emphasis on equestrian sport and activity, Dr. Waite is the creator of the popular equestrian sport blog, and currently shows at NRHA events.

Amber Krotky

Amber Krotky


Amber D. Krotky, MS, PAS, currently serves as Quality & Product Development Manager at Mars Horsecare US, Inc (Buckeye Nutrition) in Dalton, Ohio. Growing up in Eastern Oklahoma helped to cultivate Amber's love for horses, cattle and the farming and ranching way of life.  Amber has been involved in agriculture and the horse industry for close to 40 years.  She’s shown All-Around and Reining horses on a state and national level with APHA, AQHA, PHBA and 4-H. 

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Brenna Johnson


Brenna is the Youth and Family Programs Coordinator for the Arabian Horse Association.  She learned to ride through Westernaires, a drill team that performs throughout Colorado.  She is enthusiastic about growing youth participation in the equine industry and finding new ways to reach youth. Her passion for the equine industry coupled with the importance of educating youth about the agricultural and equine industries, keeps her loving her job every day.

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Debbie Manring

Past President

Debbie has been a 4-H volunteer and coach for equine teams for over 25 years. She has also been an active volunteer/judge for state, All American Quarter Horse Congress and Eastern Nationals 4-H youth contests. She continues to work with youth as she believes in the power of their connection through horses to develop important life skills and lifelong friendships.

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Helen Hardy

Board Member

Helen Hardy is the Manager of Youth Development & AQHYA at the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, TX.  Her responsibilities include the management, development, and implementation of new and existing youth programs, contests, and resources that benefit youth, the equine industry, and the Association.  Prior to her role with AQHA, she served as the 4-H & Youth Development County Extension Agent for Erath County in Texas.  Helen holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Texas A&M University, and a Master of Science in Equine Science from Middle Tennessee State University. 

Chelsie Huseman

Dr. Chelsie Huseman

Board Member

Dr. Chelsie Huseman is an Assistant Professor and Extension Horse Specialist at Texas A&M University. She serves the state of Texas by disseminating equine education for both adults and youth through seminars, short courses, and a variety of other educational programs. She gives lead to the Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador Program, which strives to provide 4-H youth the opportunity to develop and practice advanced leadership skills and become advocates for the equine industry in Texas.

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Dr. Jennie Ivey

Board Member

Dr. Ivey is an Assistant Professor and Extension Horse Specialist at the University of Tennessee. She grew up in a coastal region of New Jersey, but began her career with horses through numerous 4-H projects and avid lessons, shows and training trips. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Equine Science Society, was recognized as an ASAS Midwest Section Animal Science Young Scholar, along with working closely in extension based programming while in West Virginia. She strives to translate research findings into programs and education for youth and adults in order to improve equine health and well-being. 

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Marla Lowder

Board Member

Marla is a 4-H & Youth Development Agent at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks where she oversees the State Horse Development Committee and helped them implement their first State Horse Contest in 2007. Her two passions in life are youth and horses.  She loves the motto of the American Youth Horse Council and honestly believes that “Kids + Horses = Magic”. 

Megan McMullen

Megan McMullen

Board Member

Megan McMullen is currently a Marketing Coordinator for Pivot Bio. She graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University (TCU). As a youth competitor herself, Megan grew up showing in the all-around events which led her to be recruited on the TCU Equestrian Team. Upon graduating, Megan worked for the water district in Fort Worth, TX as a Marketing and Event Coordinator and then worked for American Paint Horse Association as the Director of Youth and Amateur Activities.

Shane Michael

Shane Michael

Board Member

Shane Michael is the County Extension Director and a 4-H Agent for Seminole County in Florida.  His major programming area is youth animal science projects. He holds a BS in Animal Science and an MS in Agriculture Education, both from the University of Florida. Shane has presented workshops at the AYHC Symposium numerous years and most recently served on the planning committee for the 2020 event. 

Gail Silkwood

Gail Silkwood

Board Member

Gail Silkwood is a University of Idaho Extension Educator working with 4-H, Agriculture and Natural Resources in Benewah County, Idaho. She is a lifelong Idaho 4-Her and active horsewoman competing in AQHA events, open shows, and trail riding. She enjoys teaching and coaching youth to become the best they can be! Gail was a workshop presenter at the 2020 AYHC Symposium, is a current chair of the AYHC Youth Activities Committee and served on the planning committee for the 2019 Symposium held in Idaho/Washington.

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Cathy Thacker

Board Member

Cathy Thacker is the Equine Program Specialist for Circle C Equestrian Center, owned and operated by Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont, which offers a variety of year-round equine programming for Girl Scouts.  She has been in her role with the Girl Scouts for eight years and has a passion for helping riders make connections to larger life lessons through horses.  Cathy is a graduate of Averett University and UNC-Greensboro, with degrees in Equestrian Studies, Business and History, in addition to being a CHA certified Riding Instructor and a CHA Regional Representative.  

McGuire, Danette

Danette McGuire

Executive Director

Danette McGuire has served as the Executive Director of the American Youth Horse Council since 2012.  She has more than 15 years of experience in youth development and program management in the non-profit sector having previously served as Director of Youth Programs for the National Cutting Horse Association and New Mexico 4-H Activities Specialist. 

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