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2013 USHJA Youth Leadership Award and USHJA Nominee for USEF Youth Sportsman's Award Announced



Lexington, KY- USHJA is proud to announce Hanna Powers of Potomac Falls, VA as the 2013 USHJA Youth Leadership Award recipient.


Each year the organization takes pride in acknowledging a junior member between the ages of 12 and 15 who has demonstrated leadership qualities. Candidates are nominated by their peers and the selected winner is one who best exhibits a dedication to the USHJA mission of promoting our sport through their example of genuine sportsmanship and serving as a role model in the equestrian community.


Hanna is a believer in the 'horse gene'. She has an immediate connection and an intuition that inspires her to ride. This connection also inspires her to excel. She is an impassioned competitor who at age eight took on training her first mount, a large pony, on her own and over the course of four years shaped both their careers into that of champions. Most recently Hanna has transitioned into the jumper arena and was a participant in the 2013 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program Regional Clinic with Bernie Traurig, held at the Georgia International Horse Park.


Hanna Powers, 2013 USHJA Youth Leadersip Award Recipient


"I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in several of the great programs that the USHJA offers to support young riders. The intensity of this format was addictive to me. I credit the EAP experience with showing me what lies ahead and putting me in an environment with other young riders who share a similar goal of being exceptional on a horse as well as in the barn." Hanna said.  


A dedicated student at Madeira School, 16 year-old Hanna exemplifies the spirit of the Youth Leadership Award in and out of the horse show community. She is a varsity member of the school's IEA Team. She was recently elected Captain for the 2014 season, received an internship to work in Senator John McCain's office on Capitol Hill, serves as a S.T.A.R. at her school (selected student tour guide and admissions representative for prospective students and their parents) and was a 2012 Washington International Horse Show Youth Ambassador who led a 17 member committee in working with show management on developing community programs targeted to area youth. Her equestrian passion and natural leadership led to an invitation from the ASPCA to represent WIHS on Capitol Hill in raising awareness to the Horses on the Hill initiative. Senators Mary Landrieu and Lindsey Graham co-sponsored the SAFE Act (S. 541/ H.R. 1094) which would prohibit horse slaughter in the U.S. and end export and slaughter of American horses abroad.


"I am always looking for non-riding ways to incorporate my passion for horses. Riding has already enriched my life greatly. It has brought me to my best friends, provided me with life-changing opportunities and taught me invaluable skills." Hanna said.


As for what lies ahead, Hanna often looks to a favorite quote for reassurance, 'Perseverance and dedication are the two keys in life: apply them to any purpose and you will succeed. Remember, always, the future is a great deal more than just tomorrow.' - Neil C. Aslin.


Hanna will be presented the 2013 USHJA Youth Leadership Award commemorative trophy, a complimentary three-year USHJA Active Membership and a RevitaVet Infrared Therapy System, generously donated by RevitaVet,  during the USHJA Annual Meeting's Evening of Equestrians awards dinner on Tuesday, December 10 at 7:00PM.


"I am honored to be the recipient of the USHJA's Youth Leadership Award.  I have been fortunate to be around so many other young riders that share the similar goal of being exceptional on horseback as well as in everything that they do.  My goal is to keep striving for excellence as I pursue my passion for horses." Hanna said.


Another equally prestigious honor for young riders of any discipline is the USEF Youth Sportsman's Award. Hundreds of junior members under the age of 18 apply through his or her affiliate organization to be considered for the award, which is presented at the USEF Annual Meeting. USHJA is meticulous in the selection process; USHJA member applications are reviewed by the USHJA Youth Committee, whose members select a nominee and an alternate to represent the USHJA in consideration for the USEF Youth Sportsman's Award.


The 2013 USHJA Nominee for the USEF Youth Sportsman's Award is Melissa Kerr of Granville, OH.



Melissa Kerr, 2013 USHJA Nominee for USEF Youth Sportsman's Award


Melissa comes from a small family farm and began riding at the age of six. She has also learned the importance of proper care and the joy of helping others. She believes that a good sportsman should be defined by the examples they live day-to-day. An enthusiastic passion, dedication and willingness to share have guided Melissa in and out of the competition arena. As an equestrian, she has been a member of the Granville High School's IEA team for six years, qualifying at regional, zone and national levels, a 2012 USHJA Outreach Gold Medal recipient and a 2013 participant at EAP. Yet it isn't about the ribbons; "Life is not about how much you can win, but the lessons that go along with each victory and loss, and the importance of having pride in oneself." Melissa said. These lessons also show in Melissa away from the competition rings; she is a dedicated volunteer for organization such as Equine Assisted Therapy, a non-profit group that works to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities. Another of her volunteer positions is with Angel Paws Animal Assisted Therapy and being a part of their R.E.A.D. [Reading Education Assistance Dogs] program where children build their confidence by reading aloud to an unbiased listener with a wagging tail and understanding eyes.        


Besides maintaining nearly a 4.0 GPA, Melissa has served as Junior Class President, Prom President for 2013 and acted as Historian for both the Spanish and National Honor Societies. Many of the recommendation letters on Melissa's behalf spoke of her dedication to and love of equestrian sport, as well as being a genuine role model for others to look up to. The trainer who has witnessed Melissa's work with an often difficult mount claimed there are three reasons why Melissa deserved this honor - 'Attitude, Attitude and Attitude!' noting her eagerness to always learn and support  others around her was never anything short of positive. Melissa's Track and Field Coach stated the 17 year-old possesses an innate sense of caring and leadership skills that make her adored by teammates. Matt Durst, Granville Assistant Principal and organizer of Alternative Spring Break Trips which aid in rebuilding homes lost to disasters like Hurricane Katrina, summed up Melissa's character, "I was fortunate to have her as a worker on the site [New Orleans] for ongoing recovery. Her energy, positive attitude and work ethic were well on display."  


Melissa has taken all the praise in stride by stating simply, "I view leadership as being a role model when nobody is looking."


Following her high school graduation, Melissa plans to attend South Dakota State University as an member of their NCAA Equestrian team.


USHJA is pleased to nominate Melissa Kerr for the 2013 USEF Youth's Sportsman's Award and to recognize her many talents.


"Receiving this award represents recognition of the many hours of hard work I have dedicated to the equine industry. As anybody in the industry knows, riding is not a sport but a lifetime commitment. I am honored to be able to represent USHJA as a nominee, especially since it represents sportsmanship. To me, being a sportsman embodies those experiences both in the saddle and out of the saddle. " Melissa said.


USHJA commends Hanna and Melissa on their achievements and wishes them continued success in reaching all their goals. USHJA would also like to recognize other applicants for these special awards.


USHJA Youth Leadership Award

Recipient: Hanna Powers

Runner-Up: Kelsi Okun

Honorable Mentions:

Dawson Amick

Chloe Bellerive

Saige Bryan

Nicole Cinelli

Nicolas Horgan

Carter Ann Jones

Ashley Murray

Chloe Pacyna

Lauren Rinda

Amanda Rosenkrantz

Carolina Villanueva

Michaela Wood

Ana-Christina Zentner


USHJA Nominee for the USEF Youth Sportsman's Award

Winner: Melissa Kerr

Runner-Up: Julianna Witt

Honorable Mentions:

Danielle Cattano

Nicole Cinelli

Katelyn Freeman

Ashley Murray

Hanna Powers

Amanda Rosenkrantz

Ana-Christina Zentner


To learn more about these prestigious youth awards please visit our website or contact Carrie Vaught at (859) 225-6703.


United States Hunter Jumper Association 
3870 Cigar Lane
Lexington, KY 40511
P: 859.225.6700 
F: 859.258.9033
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