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Dr. Ann Swinker Receives National Award

Posted: June 21, 2016

Swinker was presented the American Horse Council's (AHC) Van Ness Award during the organization's annual meeting in Washington, DC on June 13.

Penn State's Department of Animal Sciences' Ann M. Swinker, Ph.D., was presented the American Horse Council's (AHC) Van Ness Award during the organization's annual meeting in Washington, DC on June 13.

The Van Ness Award is presented annually to an individual who has shown leadership and service to the horse community in their state. It is awarded in memory of Mrs. Marjorie Van Ness, one of the founders of the New Jersey Horse Council and one of the organizers of the AHC's Coalition of State Horse Councils. 

Dr. Swinker, Associate Professor of Equine Science and Extension Horse Specialist at Penn State, received her Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences, from West Virginia University, her M.Ag. and her B.S. from The Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "This is a wonderful acknowledgement of the strong and far reaching impact that Ann has had on the horse industry across the United States. She is a strong advocate for the industry and a very positive influence for our equine students. We are very proud of this national recognition of her contributions."

AHC President Jay Hickey commended Swinker for her more than 45 years of professional service to the horse industry, saying, "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."

Swinker said, "I am truly honored to have been chosen as the recipient of the Marjorie Van Ness award. 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!"

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. At Penn State she has been involved in the development of a number of cutting edge programs on behalf of the Extension Equine Team. She is founder and co-chair of the "Equine Environmental Stewardship Program," which has been recognized as one of the top programs in the nation.

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 the National Association of County Agricultural Agent's Distinguished Service Award and was a state winner in their Search for Excellence in Livestock Production. She was recognized by the American Society of Animal Science and was named "Horse Person of the Year" in 2002 by the Colorado Horse Council. She has received the Epsilon Sigma Phi Distinguished Team Award and International Service Award and its Alpha Omicron Chapter Distinguished Service Award.

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.

Swinker 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."   

As the national association representing all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and opportunities. Organized in 1969, the AHC promotes and protects the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day.