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AQHA YES Seminar Through the Eyes of a Rookie

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Packing over 2,000 food bags for the hungry youth and seniors in the Amarillo area who are experiencing times when life happens at the Snack Pak 4 Kids service project. Pictured: Elden and Caroline Fredenburg

EC Blog by: Caroline Fredenburg

Amarillo, TX., home of the international headquarters of the American Quarter Horse Association and the Cadillac Ranch, was the destination for AQHA youth last week. Youth members traveled from Washington, New Jersey, and everywhere in between. Some came looking to represent their region on the national officer and director team. Others came to this “sleepy cow town” to make new connections with people who also find enjoyment in horses.  Everyone came looking to build their leadership skills and learn more about the opportunities within AQHA. The YES conference, or Youth Excellence Seminar, gave youth members the opportunity to pursue their “mark” while sharing their passion for the American Quarter Horse.

Attendees of the 2021 YES Conference.

I attended my first YES conference in 2019. Attending the conference in 2021 with four youth, who were rookies, as indicated on their name badges, gave me the opportunity to see what the conference can offer to first time attendees. Please let me take a minute to share the experiences of these youth.

A trip to Cadillac Ranch. Pictured: Zoe Hawkins, Sydney Sherman, Caroline Fredenburg, Elden Fredenburg, and Emma Tarter.

Emma Tarter, is no stranger to leadership within the Indiana Quarter Horse Youth Association. She attended YES with only two youth years remaining, but still was inspired to grab the proverbial bull by the horns.  Although it was her first year at the conference, she did an Instagram takeover for @_iqhya_ sharing the immersion and excitement of the event. My brother, Elden Fredenburg, loved to network outside of the competition ring and even learned the two step within the first few songs at the YES dance. Zoe Hawkins was motivated by the conference, and decided that she would like to run to be an officer in her state affiliate of  IQHYA. Another Indiana youth member, Sydney Sherman, was excited by the experiences of AQHYA executive team and hopes to run for a national office in the future. I thought it was amazing that 100% of the youth who traveled with me to the conference, despite their rookie status, seized opportunities and were inspired by what they learned.

Ready for dinner and dance. Pictured: Sydney Sherman, Zoe Hawkins, Elden Fredenburg, Emma Tarter, and Caroline Fredenburg.

The theme for the 2021 YES Conference was “Make Your Mark.” We took part in community service, impromptu skits, and leadership activities to help each of us discover ways that we can “make our mark” on the association and in the lives of others.  This was demonstrated first hand by Sydney Sargent, region 4 AQHYA Director, who ran on a plus-one platform. Sydney encouraged each youth member to invite one good friend, and the growth would be measurable. Whether it is in the show pen or at a speech contest, AQHYA offers so many unique opportunities for youth of all interests. Check out these images and see the conference through the eyes of these first time attendees.  Maybe you too will be inspired to make your mark.

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