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Mississippi horseman earns national award
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A long-time volunteer with the Mississippi 4-H program is the American Youth Horse Council Adult Leader of the Year.
Tom McBeath of Union, Mississippi, received the honor at the recent American Youth Horse Council symposium in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He has spent nearly four decades working with youth to establish strong foundations for successful experiences with horses.
"Tom realizes the importance of 4-H and often judges state 4-H horse shows across the country," said Dean Jousan, 4-H livestock specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “He regularly has a group of 4-H members who train under his direction and are very competitive from the local to the national levels.”
Jousan said McBeath’s commitment to the 4-H horse project is not limited to equestrian skills.
“Tom always engages youth to not only help them become better riders and stewards of horses, but he also wants them to become better people,” Jousan said. “He wants to see them become good citizens who want to give back to other youth inside and outside of the horse industry.”
Sabrina Turner of Gulfport was one of McBeath’s former students who wrote a letter of support for his nomination as the American Youth Horse Council Leader of the Year. She was 5 years old when she began taking riding lessons from him. McBeath recently helped her prepare to compete with the MSU Equestrian team and in other American Quarter Horse shows.
“Mr. Tom taught me the value of giving back to the equine industry and today’s youth through his volunteering voluminous amounts of his time to organize and direct the Mississippi 4-H horse show program,” Turner wrote. “He also taught me the value of giving back to others less fortunate than myself through his volunteer work with the Dixie National Equestrians with Disabilities Horse Show.”
Another of his former students, Aprille Watts of Union, wrote that she valued the life lessons as much as the horse lessons he taught.
“Tom models and teaches life lessons such as hard work, dedication and fairness, just as he teaches the skills for riding and caring for the horse,” Watts said.
She also commended his service to the Mississippi 4-H horse club, including riding and judging clinics, along with help in organizing and managing district, state and regional shows.
Jousan said the Mississippi 4-H Horse Program depends on volunteer leaders to help establish strong foundations for the future of the equine industry. For more information about becoming involved in 4-H as a leader or as a member, contact the local county Extension office.