Amber Bennett, LCMHC
Born and raised in St. Johnsbury, VT on a horse farm, Amber learned at a young age the power that horses have to positively influence human lives. With a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UVM and a minor in animal science, Amber went on for a masters in Mental Health Counseling through Walden University. After completing her masters, Amber took specialized training through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association to provide Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. In her free time, Amber continues to enjoy riding with a focus on reining.
Sarah Morrison MS OTR/L
Sarah was born and raised outside of Richmond, VA and found out at a young age the powerful connection between people and horses when she took her first riding lesson at age 5. The desire to utilize the connection between animals and humans inspired a professional direction; first working as a therapeutic recreation specialist at The National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, CO, conducting therapeutic riding lessons in the summer and adaptive skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Sarah then attended Shenandoah University in VA, earning a master’s of science degree in Occupational Therapy in 2008, and since working with clients pre-school and older in school settings, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and homes. She is thrilled to be a part of Hope Grows Community Farm, combining equine-assisted therapy with occupational therapy approaches. In her spare time, Sarah can be found mountain biking, hiking and spending time with her husband and 4 year old son.
Hello my name is Debbie Hill. I am a native Vermonter and spent my childhood exploring the beautiful hills, valleys, back roads and woods of East Montpelier.
Not traveling too far from home, I attended Champlain College in Burlington, studying business and earning a degree in Accounting. After completing college, I spent over 30 years living in Montpelier raising two sons (whom I love to brag about!).
During the time I lived in Montpelier, I had the pleasure of managing and overseeing a small association business in Waterbury for 18 years, and then working in Montpelier for 13 years in Human Resources, assisting employees to better understand their benefits.
I recently married and live in Wolcott with my husband, Steve. I have enjoyed getting back to country living and having an opportunity to catch a glimpse of a variety of critters that happen to mosey-on-by our property. Whether it’s walking in the woods, snow shoeing, cross country or downhill skiing, having a picnic on a beach, canoeing, kayaking, or swimming at a lake, I am the happiest when I am outdoors, communing with nature and all the peace and beauty it has to offer.
There is one other thing I just have to mention…. as of March 2015, I became a grandmother! So now one of the times I’m happiest is when I’m holding my grandson Lucas.
I joined the Hope Grows Community Farm Program team as Office Manager in February 2014. You may not see me in the arena or mucking the stalls as I’m probably in the office answering the phone or updating a form. I am thrilled to be a part of such a worthwhile endeavor and look forward to working with the Hope Grows team in welcoming and introducing new participants and families to all we offer as we continue to develop and expand our programs. Be sure to stop by the office to say “Hi” on your next visit to the farm.
Hello all! My name is Katie Powell, and I was born and raised in Belleville, West Virginia. I grew up on my family’s 25 acre farm, helping with all the chores. My first “horses” were my dad’s team of Belgian draft mules. They and my dad helped teach me to harness and drive, and we spent lots of time in the hay field and gardens. My first riding instructor was named Barbie, an ornery old Haflinger-cross mare. At age 15, I bought my first horse, a yearling Haflinger, who is now 9 years old and works as a draft mare and all-around trail horse. I started training horses in high school, teaching all five of our Haflinger herd to go under saddle, and helping my dad train them to go in harness. As a self-taught rider, I learned later that while my equitation could definitely improve, there weren’t many horses that I would easily fall off of! Even today, hill climbs and challenging trails are my favorite place to ride a horse, just like the trails I learned to ride on in the hills at home.
I didn’t ride competitively until college, when I joined the hunt seat team at Bethany College, in West Virginia. During my time at Bethany, I primarily rode hunt seat, but I also took classes in western and dressage. My sophomore year, I was rider on the Bethany College drill team. During my senior year, I competed in endurance racing, and absolutely loved it!
While at Bethany, I got my start in therapeutic riding, working first as a summer intern and then as a riding instructor at Glade Run Adventures in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. At Glade Run, I helped staff summer camps and riding lessons for children with developmental, behavioral, and emotional disabilities. I helped my campers learn everything from cantering to cleaning stalls, with fun shows to let them show their loved ones what they and their horses had learned.
Before college, I spent a year as an Americorps National Service volunteer, helping coordinate programs for people with developmental disabilities through the Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley. I have also been a 4-H member since age 9, which allowed me to spend two summers as an Extension Camping Instructor. As an ECI, I traveled to 4-H camps around West Virginia and meet hundreds of amazing children and young adults in the West Virginia 4-H program. I even was able to help lead a live-in horse camp in southern West Virginia.
I graduated college in 2014, with a Bachelor’s degree in Equine Studies. After graduation, I traveled to High Hopes Therapeutic Riding in Old Lyme, CT. Here I spent 3 months studying to earn my Registered therapeutic riding certification through PATH Intl. This 3 months included many hours spent student teaching alongside the High Hopes staff, to ensure that I was teaching up to High Hopes’ high standards!
It was while I was at High Hopes that I first visited the program at Hope Grows. I’m so excited to be a part of the program here! I look forward to working alongside the students, volunteers, and staff here, and to share what I know as well as learn from all of you.
Jayd Borgenson grew up in New Hampshire, and started riding and working with horses at the young age of 8. She grew up mucking stalls at local barns in exchange for lessons or free rides. Her love of training started at a very young age through many different horses; which have brought her to where she is today, including her Paint Arab gelding she started herself. Jayd attended the University of New Hampshire where she was an active member of the equine facility, and graduated with a Bachelors in Equine Industry and Management.
She has participated in many clinics with a John Lyons certified instructor in southern NH, where she was trained in round penning, starting young horses, and essential ground manners. She has spent many years training multiple horses, and continues to grow her education by working with an eventing trainer as often as she can. Jayd still remains in the saddle and focuses on putting her time into more training with her most recent training pony Oliver, whom she has high aspirations for.
Jayd is trained to teach beginners up to first level dressage, and is capable of teaching western disciplines as well. She focuses on riding the horse forward through the aids, creating suppleness, engagement, and rhythm. She is always working hard on improving her riding and teaching abilities by working with a trainer as often as she can.
Smokey is the assistant office manager and barn supervisor here at Hope Grows. His favorite duties include greeting visitors, napping inconveniently, chasing invisible objects, and sitting on all available vehicles. He is very glad spring is here, and is spending more time outside to work on his figure. He would like to ask all visitors to the barn to report to the office for a supervisory inspection!