Meet Our Symposium Speakers

Emily Alger with a horse

Emily Alger

Emily has been working with UConn Extension since late 1991, coordinating the Middlesex County 4-H Program and the State 4-H Horse Program.  She grew up in the 4-H Program in Middlesex county where she showed home arts and small animals.  After college, she got her first horse and has been active in the equine community ever since.  She is a past Youth Coordinator for CTQHA and rode in AQHA events for 2 decades. She now is very involved in the AMHR as an exhibitor and an amateur mentor.  She and her husband Joe and daughter Mikayla live on a horse farm in East Haddam Connecticut where they own and show  AMHR miniatures on the local, area and national levels.

Digital Escape Rooms: Helping Youth Learn In a Fun and Innovative Way

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Susie Baumgartner

Susie Baumgartner has been a riding instructor for over 40 years, and is certified with the American Riding Instructors Association and serves as a Test Center Administrator for ARIA.  She is certified in Hunt Seat, Dressage, Stock Seat, Saddleseat and Recreational Riding.  Susie's experience includes Director of Innisfree Equestrian Center for GSMD and US Army JROTC Cavalry Program.  She is a graduate of ATI-OSU in Horse Management and Production.  

Put Horse Smarts to Work for YouTH

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Sarah E. Coleman

An avid equestrian, Coleman grew up in northeastern Ohio and graduated from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. Coleman moved to the Bluegrass to work with multiple equine and agriculture-related publications. She shifted to equine-oriented roles at Lexington Catholic High School and Georgetown College before transitioning to her most recent role as Community and Public Relations Director for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. Coleman oversaw the construction of New Vocations at Mereworth Farm and established the New Vocations All-Thoroughbred Charity Horse Show. Coleman holds roles on multiple equine boards and committees, including the Kentucky Hunter Jumper Association, University of Kentucky's Saddle Up Safely program and the Kentucky Horse Breeders Incentive Fund Non-Race Committee.

Creating a Cohesive Emergency Response for Horses in Hazardous Situations 

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Marc Cournoyer

Marc has served as a 4-H Education Program Coordinator with the University of Connecticut since 2007.  He has over 30 years of experience in the field of positive youth development.  He is the lead designer of the 4-H Escape digital breakout project which launched in the spring of 2020 and continues to explore and design innovative ways to reach youth audiences with interactive and educational content.  He also serves as the 4-H educator for Windham County, CT and multiple state and national youth development opportunities.

Digital Escape Rooms: Helping Youth Learn In a Fun and Innovative Way

Barry Decker

Barry Decker

Barry Decker has been in 4-H for nine years. He has been a Team HorsePower member for four years. He owns a registered quarter horse named PSU A Boy Named Sue, along with a miniature horse named Hank. Barry enjoys barrel racing and other gaming classes on Sue, as well as driving and ranch horse classes. He also does mini jumping, in-hand trail, and driving with Hank. He has been around horses his entire life and is always willing to learn and try new activities. 

On the Road Again

Sylvia Decker

Sylvia Decker

Sylvia Decker has ridden horses and been involved with them for her entire life. She has been a member of 4-H for eight years and a member of Team Horse Power for three. She rides primarily in gaming classes such as barrels, however, she also enjoys doing many other kinds of riding too including ranch horse, trail, jumping and driving.

On the Road Again

Julia Dillon

Julia Dillon

Julia Dillon has been a member of Sunset Riders 4-H Club for four years and a Team Horse Power member for two years. She competes in western classes such as showmanship, horsemanship, reining, ranch horse, and trail. Outside of 4-H, she is a member of CMSA (Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association) and East Coast Outlaws competing in Mounted Shooting. Julia has been working with horses since she was three years old.

On the Road Again

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Dr. Jennifer Hatcher

Dr. Jennifer Hatcher is a 2005 graduate from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. She grew up in Tennessee on her family's dairy farm and is still involved with Hatcher Family Dairy today. Dr. Jennifer, her husband Chuck and their two children currently reside on the farm. She enjoys all species however her love is with livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats.

Agvococy and Crisis Communication

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Dr. Jennie Ivey

Dr. Ivey 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 began her professional animal science career by completing a B. S. focusing on equine science at Rutgers University. Her experiences in undergraduate research led her to pursue a M. S. at West Virginia University, where she studied the effects of resveratrol on mature, moderately-exercised horses. Her dissertation at WVU focused on the influence of weight loss on metabolic and mitochondrial function in the horse.  She strives to translate research findings into programs and education for youth and adults in order to improve equine health and well-being. 

Under the Skin - Equine Leg Dissection Lab

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Sawyer Main

Sawyer grew up in Northeast Tennessee on his family's farm. Throughout his youth, Sawyer was involved with his local 4-H club and FFA chapter where he was an active horse judger. As an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, Sawyer was a member of the UT Horse Judging Team and served as the president of the Collegiate 4-H & FFA student organization. Sawyer is currently attending the University of Tennessee as an Animal Science graduate student studying education in equine science.

Under the Skin - Equine Leg Dissection Lab

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Dr. Jenifer Nadeau

Dr. Jenifer Nadeau is an Associate Professor and the Equine Extension Specialist for the University of Connecticut.  She has been with the university for 20 years and grew up riding and working with horses.   Jenifer enjoys trail riding with her students in the UCONN Forest.  She also loves hiking and traveling with her boyfriend Dave and their dogs Sheena and Fox.

Digital Escape Rooms: Helping Youth Learn In a Fun and Innovative Way

Sophie Shoop

Sophie Shoop

Sophie Shoop has been in 4-H for six years and a member of Team Horse Power for four years. Sophie has been around horses since she was twelve years old. She enjoys barrel racing and other timed events, along with trail riding. She also enjoys working with her young mini.

On the Road Again

Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith grew up immersed in all things horses from her local 4H to competing in rodeos. She holds a Masters in Equine Education from Middle Tennessee State University, is a CHA certified riding instructor, and owns Need A Hand Horse Training in Murfreesboro, TN where she coaches youth and adult riders in western and ranch events. She spends her weekends traveling to horse shows and is generally found ringside coaching her students. In 2011 Courtney expanded her lesson program by starting an Interscholastic Equestrian Association team, Team Need-A-Hand, that recently placed in the top 8 at the IEA Western National Finals. She also sits on the board of the Tennessee Stock Horse Association and has recently been appointed as the Chairman of the IEA’s Educational Committee. Her passion for education is evident not only in the arena but also through her dedication to promoting the growth of our industry through youth involvement.

Using Evaluation as a Teaching Tool
Riding the Unfamiliar Horse in a Draw Format

Dr. Holly Spooner

Dr. Holly Spooner

Dr. Holly Spooner grew up showing American Quarter Horses and participating in 4-H and FFA activities in central Indiana. After starting her professional career at West Virginia University, spent almost 10 years on faculty at Middle Tennessee State University teaching and conducting research in equine nutrition, exercise physiology, and equitation science.  Dr. Spooner recently accepted a role at Cargill where she directs equine research initiatives for Nutrena and ProElite brands.   Dr. Spooner remains heavily involved in the horse industry showing American Quarter Horses and Ponies of the Americas with her family, as well as serving as a volunteer for Tennessee 4-H Horse Programs. 

Using Evaluation as a Teaching Tool
Under the Skin - Equine Leg Dissection Lab

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Joe Stanco

Joe Stanco is a Penn State Equine Extension Associate. Joe works with county, regional, and state 4-H horse activities to promote proper horsemanship and good animal husbandry. Joe is also an Equine Industry Professional and enthusiast. He is an AQHA L1 Judge and Professional Horseman, clinician, and an active riding instructor and trainer. He is also the Team HorsePower Adviser.

On The Road Again

Lottie Wagner

Lottie Wagner

Lottie Wagner has been riding horses since she was three years old. She has been in 4-H for seven years and this is her final year. This is her second year as a Team Horse Power member.  She has a quarter horse named Mac and primarily enjoys barrel racing and trail riding. Sometimes they do western pleasure and ranch horse just for fun.

On The Road Again

Olivia Watson

Olivia Watson

Olivia Watson is a graduate student at the University of Tennessee in the Department of Animal Science. She completed a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in 2019, and after being in the work force for a few years decided to come back and further her education.   Her goal is to work in the field of equine nutrition.

Under the Skin - Equine Leg Dissection Lab

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Robin Wedlake

Robin Wedlake has been a 4-H advisor in Jefferson County, Ohio for 37 years.  She has coached several state Horse Bowl, Hippology, and Horse Judging teams for the last 12 years.  Robin also currently serves as a member and treasurer of the State 4-H Horse Advisory Committee.

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