Youth in Action: Ambassadors to Rodeo

The AQHYA secretary and president travel to West Virginia for the National High School Rodeo Association mid-winter meeting.

By AQHYA Secretary Lizzy Koons
The American Quarter Horse Journal
February 11, 2014

AQHYA's Lizzy Koons and Austin Halvorson at the National High School Rodeo Association mid-winter meeting

AQHYA Secretary Lizzy Koons and President Austin Halvorson enjoyed representing AQHYA at the 2014 National High School Rodeo Association mid-winter meeting. (Credit: Robin Alden)

The first official AQHYA trip of 2014 was January 21-25, when we went to West Virginia for the National High School Rodeo Association mid-winter meeting. 

Robin Alden, manager of AQHYA and youth development, and AQHYA President Austin Halvorson and I were all set to fly to West Virginia on Tuesday, January 21. However, traveling to West Virginia at the end of January is anything but easy. A snowstorm in the Washington, D.C., area disrupted our travel, delaying my departure by a day from my hometown, Fairfield, Pennsylvania, as well as Austin’s from Guthrie, Oklahoma.

After numerous delays, we finally arrived in Charleston, West Virginia. The first night, we attended the presidential dinner, where we had a chance to meet the NHSRA student officers and mingle with other youth. 

On Thursday, we presented to the NHSRA youth representatives all the amazing things that AQHYA offers its members. All the youth seemed extremely interested in these opportunities, and we hope they will become AQHYA members. The rest of the day was spent listening to guest speakers and learning more about NHSRA. 

Friday was a free day for the youth until the banquet in the evening. We spent most of the day visiting the Greenbrier, a historic and beautiful resort in West Virginia. Robin, Austin and I also ventured about the beautiful snow-covered mountains of West Virginia. Our explorations of the mountains resulted into getting lost on country roads, but after a while, we finally made it back to the resort. And by the time we made it back, it was about time to get ready for the banquet. Talk about timing! 

To cap off our trip, we attended the NHSRA banquet, where we had the opportunity to mingle with more NHSRA youth and sit in on awards presentations. 

On the whole, Austin and I were quite pleased with the chances we had to enlighten rodeo competitors about the benefits of being an AQHYA member.

“The experience I had in West Virginia was definitely encouraging as far as strengthening the relationship between AQHYA and NHSRA,” Austin said. “After presenting to them all the benefits that come with being a member of our Association, we were approached by a large number of people interested in getting involved. It truly exemplified how awesome AQHYA is and all it has to offer. 

“I also loved talking to the NHSRA officers and seeing how much our associations have in common and how our relationship is mutually beneficial,” he added. “Both NHSRA and AQHYA share a common goal of exposing youth to the Quarter Horse and the western way of life. We should always be working to share those experiences.”

Before we knew it, the time had come to pack our bags and head home from yet another amazing AQHYA trip. 

While spending a few days in West Virginia, Austin, Robin and I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and explore West Virginia. But most importantly, we grew the American Quarter Horse and the American Quarter Horse Youth Association

Because opportunities abound for horse-interested kids, the new AQHYA blog, Youth in Action, captures those adventures. Learn more about the endless prospects for young horsemen and -women through AQHYA at www.aqha.com/youth-in-action.

AQHA is a proud sponsor of National High School Rodeo Association student athletes. Each year, AQHA provides awards for state/provincial NHSRA/AQHA Boys and Girls Horse of the Year winners, in addition to recognizing the NHSFR/AQHA Boys and Girls Horse of the Year at the high school finals. Continue reading to learn more about AQHA's partnership with NHSRA.