Thirteen children of full-time horse farm workers are pursuing higher education this year with assistance from the Horse Farm Workers' Educational Assistance Fund, according to a release from the organization Monday. To date, 735 annual scholarships totaling $1,631,623 have been awarded since the Fund's inception in 1996.
Scholarships are awarded for education or skill training after high school and are based upon financial need, merit, biographical essays and personal interviews. Grants are also available for full-time horse farm workers in central Kentucky for equine-related courses or training to help them become more knowledgeable and effective while working with Thoroughbred horses.
One current recipient, Jesus Perez, has also distinguished himself as a Pollard Scholar at the University of Kentucky.
The scholars and schools are listed below:
Olivia Bryant – U. of Kentucky
Jacob Compton – U. of Kentucky
Tania Godina – BCTC*
Jayden Hamilton – Midway U.
Alexis Laytart – BCTC*
Anna Martinez – Transylvania U.
Flora Martinez – Northern Kentucky U
Karina Meza – U. of Kentucky
Richard Osborn – Bellarmine U.
Jesus Perez – U. of Kentucky
Kathryn Reams – Eastern Kentucky U.
Katie Thurman – Bellarmine U.
Reagan Toothaker – Thomas More U.
*Bluegrass Community and Technical College
Qualifying parents of scholars are employed full-time by one of the following central Kentucky Thoroughbred farms:bAshview Farm, Betz Thoroughbreds, Godolphin (5), Hermitage, Rose Hill Farm, Spendthrift Farm (2), and Westbrook Stables.
The Fund was founded in 1996 by Rob Whiteley of Liberation Farm, Tom Evans of Trackside Farm, and Fred Seitz of Brookdale. Farm.
“In pursuit of their dreams, many of our scholars work 20 or more hours per week at one or two jobs while carrying a full course load,” said Evans. “Our main goal is to award enough money so that they can focus on their studies and make school their number one priority without incurring a huge burden of long-term student loan debt.
“Investing in these young people is also an investment in the industry. Many of our scholars after successfully completing their studies have returned to pursue careers in the Thoroughbred industry. Several have already distinguished themselves (including a Director of Racing at a major North American track). Many who have chosen careers outside the industry have made their mark as professionals in nursing, education, social work, theology, and business.”
Evans said that the Fund was run on a volunteer basis, allowing over 95% of donor monies to go directly to scholarship recipients.
“We are grateful for all contributors who have so generously supported and valued this remarkable group of young scholars,” said Evans. “Over the years, we have received significant contributions from the Carl Pollard Foundation, Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, Hilary Boone Foundation, KTA, Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, Darley and Godolphin, Thoroughbred Charities of America, W.T. Young, William Marquard, Race for Education, Hill 'n' Dale Farm, the Crafty Prospector syndicate, donors in memory of Gus Koch, and many other individual donors.”
Said Whiteley, “These scholars and parents are an industry treasure. Farm workers are the backbone of the breeding industry and therefore the foundation of the entire Thoroughbred industry. The parents of these scholars have instilled an incredible work ethic in their children. Year after year, these outstanding young people impress the Board with their ability, motivation, energy, enthusiasm, and accomplishments. In many instances, our scholars are the first in their families to pursue secondary education; and some could not pursue education without our financial assistance.”
Board members include Evans, Dan Pride of Godolphin, Judge Wilson of Berea College, Mary Ryan, Whiteley, Stu Pollard, and Chet Blackey, DVM. Carl Pollard serves as advisor to the Board. Muffy Stuart coordinates the Fund and provides personal communication, guidance, and support to scholars throughout the year.
The Fund is a 501c3 organization. Tax deductible contributions may be made through the website: www.horsefarmworkerseducationfund.com. Checks made be sent to HFWEAF, 2938 Four Pines Drive, Lexington, KY 40502.
Applications are available in March with a July 1 deadline, followed by personal interviews with the Board. Inquiries may be made to 859-269-1719. Additional information and a brief video are available on the website.