AQHYA Leadership Team
Steve Wheat of Reddick, Florida, is the 2021-22 AQHYA President. He believes that now is the time to Make Our Mark, reaching out to the various stakeholders, educating them about scholarship opportunities and leadership options that AQHYA has available to the youth members. By using targeted methods to reach out to those involved in the industry, Steve wants to see AQHYA grow into the best youth association it can be!
Spencer Hardin of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is serving as the 2021-22 AQHYA first vice president. He would like to enhance and expand AQHYA following the four E’s: Engagement, Expenditures, Education and Encouragement. In this role on the leadership team, Spencer will help fellow youth members Make Their Mark with the Association.
Adriana Totten, of Chester, New Jersey, is the 2021-22 AQHYA second vice president. She sets her goals and vision on the promotion of the Association and getting more youth involved and excited to participate in AQHYA events and shows. Adriana looks forward to gaining more responsibility, being a passionate committee chair and fostering constructive conversations and relationships among the members and directors in her region.
Alexa Black of Springfield, Ohio, is an AQHYA executive member for 2021-22. Her platform highlights the three areas that she believes are most important for the future of AQHYA: growth, education and membership. She believes these three topics share a connection and working on one will provide progress in another to not only grow the Association but set up AQHYA for a bright future.
Emma Schaefer of New Virginia, Iowa, is a 2021-22 AQHYA executive member. Her vision for AQHYA is to help current members become better leaders by equipping them with valuable social and leadership skills through programs and opportunities offered by the Association. Emma would also like to implement a mentor and mentee program proven successful in her affiliate to encourage youth to become members and stay involved for years to come.
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, slated for July 12 - 14 in Amarillo.
Aliya Hawker of Snoqualmie, Washington, is serving as Region 1 Director. Described as a motivated and driven youth, she believes in care for our equine athlete partners to build a solid, trustworthy bond that is mutually beneficial to them and ourselves. Aliya emphasizes the importance of keeping our horses healthy and happy as a common goal that those of us involved in the industry share and must keep a top priority.
Isabella Laguna of Snoqualmie, Washington, is currently serving her fifth term as Region 1 AQHYA director. Her platform is centered on farrier work and how the skilled farriers take into consideration the structure, muscle and hoof anatomy to perform their task. Hoof care is something every horse owner should have a basic knowledge of, and it is Isabella’s goal to help educate more people in the Association and her region.
Kimberly Johnson of Mud Butte, South Dakota, is serving her second term as a Region 2 AQHYA director. Her goal this year is to educate and bridge the gap between youth members and the exciting opportunities that are offered through AQHYA. Following a famous leader’s ideals, Kimberly wants to prepare the youth of AQHYA for the future, by educating them now.
Abigail Eddy of Rocheport, Missouri, serving as a Region 5 director, through which she hopes to strengthen and support AQHA affiliates by increasing communication between AQHYA officers and directors and affiliate presidents and youth advisers. She proposes that the boosted relationships will in turn grow membership and participation with the Association.
Hazel Myles of Moberly, Missouri, is serving as a Region 3 director. Her platform is based on the integral part that AQHYA has had on her own journey with horses, dedicating her work to the betterment of the largest single-breed youth association that all youth members proudly represent. In this role, Hazel will work toward encouraging advocation, inclusivity and community service in the Association.
Grant Mastin of Jackson, Ohio, is serving as a Region 4 director. Through his own experience of being guided by AQHA members and professionals, Grant would like to create a mentorship program for his fellow youth members. This program would help bridge the gap between youth, amateur and professional members, creating connections that strengthen the AQHA community, propelling the careers of youth members for the future.
Sydney Sargent of Paris, Kentucky, is serving her second term as Region 4 director. She is dedicated to growing and sustaining our youth membership, sharing the remarkable opportunities available to the youth members. Sydney challenges all of us to embrace the “Plus One” concept, inviting those who share our passion of the American Quarter Horse to become active members with AQHYA.
Alexandra Santos 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 of Wells, Nevada, is serving a second term as a Region 7 director. She wishes to expand on her previous experience with AQHYA to boost youth member enrollment and involvement. Madison believes that highlighting leadership opportunities at the regional level while showcasing national involvement programs with the Association can appeal to new members from all walks of life and encourages existing member to remain active.
A.J. Kendrick of Shallowater, TX is serving as a Region 8 Director. This year a Region 8 director, he plans to involve more AQHYA members in the many program and scholarship opportunities the association has to offer by advocating for speaking and horse judging contests during the Ford Youth World Show, inspiring members to become active at a younger age. A.J. hopes to share his passion for horse judging, showing the many benefits and career opportunities it can offer to all members.
Alexa Gerdes of Dodge City, Kansas, is serving as a Region 8 director. Her platform includes bringing awareness to the many educational and leadership opportunities the Association provides. Alexa envisions highlighting these programs on social media platforms using testimonials, pictures and other content provided by youth involved in the programs.
Tell Bagley from Dimmit, Texas is serving as a Region 8 Director. During his time on the youth leadership board, he would like to work with affiliates and alliance organizations to increase AQHYA membership and involvement. Tell plans to highlight the leadership aspects and opportunities within the association, raising awareness and sharing information with members in the show pen and out.
Jaymee Carruth of Enterprise, Mississippi, is serving as a Region 9 director. She firmly believes that it is not a situation that defines us, but how we bounce back from a set-back. This past year has given Jaymee a sense of purpose to help build and grow from our experiences, turning them into a source of positivity and determination that will allow the Association to prosper.
Blakely Abbott of Covington, Georgia, is serving her third term as a Region 10 director. Her platform is based on the D.R.E.A.M. model focusing on the qualities and traits of dedication, responsibility, education, attitude, and motivation that all youth members should strive to possess. Through D.R.E.A.M., all youth member’s dreams can flourish and take form throughout their time in AQHYA, spreading positivity for many years to come.
Lauren Sanders of McDonough, Georgia wishes to continue and grow her leadership responsibilities by serving as a Region 10 director. Her vision for the association is to expand and share it with as many youths as possible through regular communication with regional directors and affiliates, and by providing more opportunities for involvement outside of the show ring.