2016 Volunteer of the Year
My name is Jamie Barnhill and I am currently a volunteer at M.A.R.E. Therapeutic Riding Center. I graduated from Garces Memorial High School in 2014, have just finished my sophomore year at Bakersfield College, and I am happily transferring to University of California, Davis in the fall to continue studying Biology with hopes of becoming a veterinarian.
When I first came to M.A.R.E. in June 2015, I had little-to-no horse knowledge and was looking for a way to gain experience in working with horses. I was welcomed with open arms by the kind staff, fellow volunteers, and amazing riders. I was taught how to safely clean stalls and pastures, groom horses, and prepare hay in a matter of weeks. In addition to the basics, I also became a side-walker/ safety-aide for many students. Interacting with these riders on a weekly basis allowed me to witness them work to overcome their struggles and grow as individuals every week.
Along with giving me experience in caring for horses, I also got to experience what riding a horse feels like for the very first time. Both nerve racking and exciting, it was definitely something I will never forget. As my experience around horses grew over this past year, so did my confidence.
Over the course of this year, I have gone from someone whose hands shook while cleaning a stall with a horse in it, to being able to calmly and confidently lead a horse through a lesson all by myself. M.A.R.E. Therapeutic Riding Center not only provides amazing services to those with special needs, but also provides lessons in responsibility and boosts in confidence for both volunteers and students. Participating in this amazing program and receiving the honor of being recognized as Volunteer of the Year has been an amazing, incredible, unbelievably wonderful experience. Volunteering at M.A.R.E. is absolutely the highlight of my week and the memories I’ve made here are ones that I will cherish forever.
We are grateful to Jamie for her selfless hours of serving the riders and horses at M.A.R.E. and going “the extra mile” to assist at the CALNET show. She has earned this special recognition and we are pleased to acknowledge her.