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Exemplary Leaders in the Equine Industry recognized at AYHC's Annual Symposium

The American Youth Horse Council recognized 2023 Award recipients at the 2024 Annual AYHC Symposium in Forth Worth, Texas.


Kylan Canon of Texas was awarded the AYHC Student Leader of the Year award. Kylan has been deeply involved in the equine industry since childhood, transitioning from observing her father's expertise in colt training and horseshoeing to actively participating in breeding American Quarter Horses alongside her family. Her leadership within the Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador program showcases her commitment to promoting awareness of the industry's significance, evidenced by her multifaceted roles as an advocate, educator, and role model at county, district, and state levels. Kylan's exemplary character, marked by a genuine desire to serve, has led her to dedicate substantial time to agricultural and equine-related activities, making her a respected and influential figure within her community.


Mae Whitehurst of Florida was awarded the AYHC Leader of the Year award. Mae has been deeply involved in youth horse programming since her days as a 4-H member in 1979, transitioning into leadership roles and mentoring both adults and youth, particularly in ranch disciplines. She has dedicated over 40 years to supporting youth horse programs, volunteering extensively at local, state, and national levels, including serving on advisory boards and providing equipment, horses, and cattle for clinics and shows. Mae's generosity, expertise, and commitment to fundamental horsemanship have made her a respected leader and mentor, recognized for her unwavering support and guidance to youth in the equine community.


Lori Stroud of North Carolina was awarded the AYHC Industry Professional of the Year award. Lori has dedicated over 30 years to mentoring youth in the horse industry, starting as a volunteer leader in 4-H and continuing her work as an Equine Extension Assistant at North Carolina State University and co-coordinator of the NC 4-H Horse Program. She organizes numerous state-level events annually and serves on multiple committees dedicated to youth education and competition, tirelessly working to provide opportunities for youth across the nation. Highly respected within the community, Lori's dedication to creating educational content and event management in the 4-H world has had a profound impact, fostering a supportive environment where youth feel valued and empowered to succeed.


Dr. Dean Jousan of Mississippi was awarded the AYHC Distinguished Service award. Dean has been a dedicated member of the AYHC since 2007, serving on the Board of Directors for a decade and holding various officer positions, including Treasurer, Vice President, and President from 2022 to 2024. He has played a crucial role in shaping the organization's vision, from developing its "why" statement to handling administrative tasks like compiling evaluations for the Annual Symposium, and has been instrumental in securing event sponsorships to enhance financial stability. Dean's enthusiastic advocacy for the AYHC Symposium underscores his commitment to the youth horse industry, and his insightful contributions have greatly contributed to the organization's success.


Nominations for 2024 Awards will be open soon, and winners will be recognized at the 2025 AYHC Annual Symposium next Spring.


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