UK Ag Equine Programs Students Gave Back to Equine Community During Second Annual Equine Week of Service

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Equine Programs held its second annual Equine Week of Service Oct. 4-9.

Students in the equine leadership program called Wildcat Wranglers created and implemented the Week of Service to give students a chance to give back to the equine industry, an especially important need during the isolation of the pandemic. The Wranglers coordinated volunteers and promoted the service event via social media.

“We had an amazing turnout during the week, with more than 250 shifts being filled and just over 500 hours of time given,” said Nick D’Amore, a senior equine major and Wildcat Wrangler who headed up the group’s volunteer and outreach committee. “We couldn’t be happier, given the success of the event last year, to be able to follow that up and be just as well received this year. It was very rewarding for everyone involved.”

The Week of Service helped seven Lexington-area equine organizations, including the African Cemetery No. 2, Kentucky Riding for Hope, Kentucky Equine Adoption Center, Kentucky Horse Park and Mounted Police, Old Friends and Our Mims Retirement Haven.

“My favorite part about the UK Equine Week of Service is seeing how the community comes together. Students, alumni, faculty and staff, and anyone else who participates, has an opportunity to work alongside each other to help create a lasting impact on the organizations,” said Margaret Babiarz, an equine senior and head of the marketing and communications group for the week. “Planning the UK Equine Week of Service allowed me to build upon invaluable skills like networking, leadership and communication.”

According to Kristen Wilson, academic coordinator in UK Ag Equine Programs and advisor of the Wildcat Wranglers, the event was successful and hopefully helped equine organizations in their day-to-day functions.

“The UK Equine Week of Service is a great opportunity for our students, faculty, staff and alumni to come together to give back to the local equine industry, and to get away from the classroom and network.”

James MacLeod, director of UK Ag Equine Programs, echoed her sentiments, adding that he is glad it has become an annual tradition.

“We can all be proud of everything the students have accomplished. The broad participation and enthusiasm are wonderful, with both the host organizations and the volunteers living the commitment to be the change you wish to see in the world,” MacLeod said.

“The leadership role that the Wildcat Wrangler equine ambassador team takes on to plan, coordinate and implement this event is impressive, teaching them many skills that will help them into their future career goals,” Wilson said.

This event was also supported by local industry organizations, including Central Equipment for their sponsorship of the bulb planting project at African Cemetery No. 2. Through their generosity, the project was able to plant different flowering bulbs highlighting and memorializing the equine industry horsemen buried there. Each type of bulb planted will correspond to the various equine occupations represented in the cemetery.

To see recaps from the week, visit UK Ag Equine Programs’ Instagram or Facebook pages or learn more at

 Writer: Holly Wiemers,

Photo available on request

Photo Caption: Wildcat Wranglers and UK equine science and management majors Charles Churchill, a senior, and Olivia Bryant, a junior, were among the group of students that helped plant bulbs at African Cemetery No. 2 as part of the Equine Week of Service. Photo courtesy of the Wildcat Wranglers.

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

Contact:  Kristen Wilson,