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Dr. Ann Swinker Receives National Equine Science Award

Posted: May 19, 2017

Animal Science Professor will be recognized at the ESS Symposium at the University of Minnesota, May 30-June 2.

Penn State's Department of Animal Sciences' Ann M. Swinker, Ph.D., will receive the Equine Science Society's (ESS) Distinguished Service Award at the ESS Symposium being held May 30-June 2 at the University of Minnesota. Designed to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of equine science, it is the most prestigious award given to ESS members.

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, "We are very proud that Ann is being recognized with this Distinguished Service award. She has had a significant impact on the horse industry both within Pennsylvania and across the United States, and she has been a very important mentor for our equine students. This is a well-deserved honor."

Swinker said, "This is a wonderful honor and I am elated to have been selected for the ESS Distinguished Service award".

The citation for the ESS award states, in part, "...Dr. Swinker has worked tirelessly to maintain a thriving horse industry in her states...and has made meritorious and significant contributions to the equine industry and has successfully disseminated equine information to horse owners and professionals through the U.S. and the world."

Swinker has been an extension horse specialist in Pennsylvania and Colorado for 27 years after having served 15 years as a county agricultural agent in Pennsylvania. 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 developed a strong research, extension and teaching program focusing on the needs of her extension clientele.

From 1990 to 2001, she served as the Extension Horse Specialist at Colorado State University and a professor of Equine Science.

Swinker has been a board member on the Pennsylvania Equine Council for more than 17 years, and a representative on the State Horse Council Advisory Committee and Coalition of State Horse Councils since 1991 for both Colorado and Pennsylvania.

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. 

Swinker serves on the PA Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission (AHDC) Equine Committee, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and is a member of other equine-related organizations.

Included in the numerous honors she has received throughout her career, in 2016 she received the American Horse Council's Van Ness Award, presented annually to an individual who has shown leadership and service to the horse community in their state.

Swinker has also 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. She was a Penn State Block and Bridle Club's Little International honoree in 2006.

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."  

She has authored over 160 publications, abstracts and proceedings in refereed publications and over 750 articles for the popular press. She has given presentations, educational workshops and clinics nationally and internationally. She has successfully mentored 13 graduate students and served on committees for 15 other graduate students.

Today she and her husband Dr. Dan Kniffen own and breed Arabian, Trakehner Horses and raise Hereford cattle in Spring Mills, PA.