AQHYA Leadership Team
Justin Eddy of Rocheport, Missouri, is the 2020-21 AQHYA President. He intends to continue to focus on developing a deeper engagement of members in the Association. He would like to focus on being approachable and welcoming to all members and to encourage more youth to run for office and to be involved. Justin hopes to focus on growing attendance at YES.
Claire Lee of McAllen, Texas, is serving as the 2020-21 AQHYA first vice president. She believes in addressing education and communication as a primary focal point. She believes the issue at hand with combating membership numbers and involvement isn’t the programs and opportunities offered, but how they are communicated and the overall awareness available. Claire wants to share her success story with other members and take a more grassroots approach when connecting with her fellow members.
Steve Wheat of Ocala, Florida, is the 2020-21 AQHYA second vice president. His goal is to help AQHYA grow and become a stronger organization by involving new members and uniting youth across multiple interests and disciplines. Steve would like to organize fundraisers supporting different causes at other organizations’ events to provide an avenue of outreach to kids. This way, they can experience the camaraderie and welcoming atmosphere AQHYA has to offer.
Emma Schaefer of New Virginia, Iowa, is a 2020-21 AQHYA executive member. She plans to continue her vision for AQHYA, which is to create a more welcoming environment for new members by further equipping seasoned members with leadership skills. Emma would also like to reach out to new members directly through mentorship programs and providing a safety net of support when members feel lost or without connection.
Alexa Black of Springfield, Ohio, is an AQHYA executive member for 2020-21. During her year, she intends to spend her year focusing on educating, engaging and encouraging current and new AQHYA members. Alexa plans to continue promoting youth activities and welcoming everyone into AQHYA.
Become an AQHYA Officer or Director
Each year elections are held for the AQHYA officers and directors at the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar. The 2021-2022 officer and director elections will take place during the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar.
If you would like to throw your hat into the race for a national officer or regional director position, stay tuned to www.aqha.com/leadership-overview for details.
Isabella Laguna of Snoqualmie, Washington, is serving her fourth term as Region 1 AQHYA director. This year, her platform is centered on horse nutrition and hydration. Horse nutrition is something every horse owner should have a basic knowledge of, and it is Isabella’s goal to help educate more people.
Kimberly Johnson of Mud Butte, South Dakota, is serving as Region 2 AQHYA director. Kimberly’s platform is to promote engagement among uninvolved AQHYA members by showing them their potential through leadership, friendship and camaraderie with their fellow AQHYA members.
Curtis Johnson of Indianola, Iowa, is serving his second term as Region 3 director. This year, Curtis plans to promote the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program as a way to increase membership and reach youth who may have not been involved in AQHYA otherwise. Additionally, he wants to advocate for all AQHYA programs and share the opportunities provided to members as more than just ways to be involved, but ways to set the foundation for careers, build leadership skills and make lifelong friends.
Hannah Inchiostro calls Foristell, Missouri, home. She is serving as AQHYA Region 3 director. She wants to start at the ground level by working with state and regional affiliates to boost engagement in their membership. Hannah intends to share the positive experiences she has cultivated through AQHYA members to show them that there is more to the Association than just showing.
Kendalyn Herlocker of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is serving her second term as Region 3 director for AQHYA. Her goal is to retain current AQHYA members by providing engaging activities and events outside of the competition arena. She also believes in being welcoming to younger participants and creating an environment that is approachable for everyone.
Courtney Hilty of Huber Heights, Ohio, is serving her second term as Region 4 director. During her year, Courtney would like to focus on communicating within AQHYA and with other associations. Communication is key to keeping members involved, connected and apprised of the different opportunities AQHYA has to offer to members and to those who are not yet members.
Sydney of Sargent Paris, Kentucky, is serving as a Region 4 director. As director, Sydney plans to operate on the “Plus One” system. If each member invited one friend to a meeting, show or other AQHYA function, membership would double. She believes making others feel included and welcome is essential while serving as an AQHYA director.
Adriana Totten calls Chester, New Jersey, home and is serving as a Region 5 director. She wants to use her experience of joining AQHYA later to reach out to other youth who haven’t been involved. She intends to educate others about the opportunities her affiliate has to offer and what AQHYA can do for youth. Adriana wants to share her love for the American Quarter Horse and help other kids, doing what she loves.
Morgan Hipkens of Kirkville, New York, is serving her third term as Region 5 director. Her goal is to share the sensation of empowerment and leadership potential she experienced when she first became involved with AQHYA. Morgan wants each member to know their potential and to be involved to create a better Association that is welcoming to all.
Rylee Ridgely of Camden-Wyoming, Delaware, is serving her second term as Region 5 director. While serving as Region 5 director, her goal is to increase youth membership and engagement. Rylee understands the power of social media and the fear of missing out, otherwise known as FOMO. By creating a fun engagement environment for current members, combined with the use of social media to share opportunities, she believes AQHYA can attract new members.
Alexandra Santos is from Tucson, Arizona, is serving as a Region 7 director. As director, Alexandra’s primary goal is to make sure AQHYA members know the different opportunities and programs available to them just by being involved with AQHYA. She plans to connect, engage and promote leadership among her affiliate and her fellow AQHYA members.
Madison Wachtel from Wells, Nevada, is serving as a Region 7 director. During her year, she wants to engage more youth to be involved in AQHYA and grow the current membership. She would like to use social media to increase outreach and create a larger audience interested in showing and riding American Quarter Horses.
Lakewood, Colorado, native, Jake Jolstad is serving as a Region 8 director. Jake has enjoyed the opportunities, friendships and leadership skills AQHYA has offered to him through the years and wants to help facilitate that experience for his fellow youth members. During this year, he wants to create social events for all youth from all different backgrounds and create friendships they may have not experienced otherwise. Jake wants to push members outside of their comfort zones to take advantage of all AQHYA has to offer.
A College Station, Texas, native, Lauren Pursley is serving as a Region 8 director. This year as Region 8 director, she plans to improve communication between members, affiliates and directors. She wants to connect national officers and directors to the affiliates they represent to create a more unified and cohesive AQHYA.
Millie Landon of Pilot Point, Texas, is serving her second term as a Region 8 director. As director, she wants to share the different opportunities AQHYA has to offer to all members so they may too reap the benefits of being involved. She believes in incorporating social media to be visible to members and nonmembers alike and create more awareness around all AQHYA functions.
Sidney Dunham is from Jonesboro, Arkansas, and is serving her second term as a Region 9 director. As director, she wants to educate her fellow members about the scholarship opportunities that are available to them. Awarding an AQHYA member a scholarship can be the catalyst that leads to the Association’s future leaders and influencers. Sidney believes in AQHYA members and feeding their success for a stronger future for our Association.
Spencer Hardin of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is serving his second term as a Region 9 director. He wants to focus on growing Region 9 and AQHYA overall. He plans to attend more shows and educate youth members about the opportunities available to them by being an AQHA member. Spencer also wants to be a welcoming face to all new members to make them feel comfortable and invited to join in on all of the fun AQHYA has to offer.
Blakely Abbott of Covington, Georgia, is serving her second term as Region 10 director. Her goal has always been to make new members feel comfortable by creating a welcoming environment. She intends to continue to debunk the misconceptions associated with AQHYA and her fellow members. She believes that small gestures will create a wider ripple and make all members feel like they are truly apart of the AQHYA family.
Sydney Nicholls of Harrisburg, North Carolina, is serving her third term as Region 10 director. She would like to encourage diversity and membership growth. With a more diverse membership, there are more diverse ideas and ways of thinking that could benefit AQHYA. She plans to serve as an example that with a little hard work, any dream is possible.