On June 13, the American Horse Council presented the Van Ness Award to Ann M. Swinker, PhD of University Park, PA during the organization’s annual meeting in Washington, DC.
The Van Ness Award is presented annually to an individual who has shown leadership and service to the horse community in his or her state. It is awarded in memory of Mrs. Marjorie Van Ness, one of the founders of the New Jersey Horse Council. Mrs. Van Ness was one of the organizers of the AHC’s Coalition of State Horse Councils.
“Dr. Swinker has dedicated more than 45 years of her professional life to the horse industry,” said AHC President Jay Hickey in his presentation of the award to her. “She has had a great influence on the development of state policies as they apply to horses, agriculture and people. Her success as a horseman, educator, and person are grounded in her commitment to people and her high standards for integrity.”
Dr. Swinker has been a board member on the Pennsylvania Equine Council for over 16 years, and a representative on the State Horse Council Advisory Committee and Coalition of State Horse Councils since 1991 for both Colorado and Pennsylvania.
From 1990 to 2001, she served as the Extension Horse Specialist at Colorado State University and a professor of Equine Science. She most recently has been the Extension Horse Specialist and Associate Professor of Equine Sciences at Penn State University. At Penn State she was involved in the development of a number of cutting edge programs on behalf of their Extension Programs. Most notably the “Equine Environmental Stewardship Program,” which has been recognized as one of the top programs in the nation, of which she is co-founder and chair.
She was also successful in the development of the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, Pennsylvania World Horse Expo Educational Sessions, the Colorado Horse Development Authority, and the Penn State University Farm Bureau Club.
She has received several awards from the National Association of County Agricultural Agent and the American Society of Animal Science. She was also named “Horse Person of the Year” in 2001 by the Colorado Horse Council.
Her research activities have addressed several management and environmental issues such as: stable air quality, small acreage management, and composting and manure management, water quality, in addition to behavior and reproductive issues. She has served on numerous extension, university and professional society committees.
Finally, she has conducted several scientific equine population surveys that have had profound impacts on the passage of legislation in the state of Pennsylvania; such as “Pennsylvania Equine Industry Inventory, Economic and Demographic Characteristics,” “Pennsylvania Horse Power, Equine Economic Impact Study,” “Pennsylvania's Racehorse Industry Inventory, Basic Economic and Demographic Characteristics” and “Kids + Horse = Magic, Impact of Equine Activities on Youth Development.”
“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the recipient of the Marjorie Van Ness award,” said Dr. Swinker. “It definitely takes more than one person, it takes an entire council, to get legislation and policy passed. I wish we could give an award to all the people that helped in Pennsylvania and in Colorado with past programs!”