September 10, 2009

RSU Names Director of Bit by Bit Therapeutic Horse Riding Program

Jennifer England has been named director of the Bit by Bit Therapeutic Horse Riding Program at Rogers State University.

The Bit by Bit program provides horse riding therapy for people with special needs at the RSU Equestrian Center, located south of Oologah.

England, who will begin her duties on Sept. 28, has an extensive background in equine therapy as well as in higher education.

She is certified as a therapeutic riding instructor by the North American Riding for the Handicapped (NARHA.)

"This position combines my passion in riding therapy with academics and the learning environment," England said. "The Bit by Bit program is an excellent program and the RSU Equestrian Center is a first-rate facility.

"I am looking forward to meeting and working closely with everyone associated with the Bit by Bit program, including instructors, parents and volunteers, and most especially, our riders."

England previously served as a certified instructor at the Michigan Abilities Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she taught horsemanship to riders of all ages with special needs, developed goals and designed lesson plans for each rider, worked with parents, teachers and therapists and provided training for other instructors, among other duties.

England also served as equine program director at the Michigan Abilities Center, supervising the care of the center's horses, planned the conditioning and training of the horses, trained volunteers as horse handlers and side walkers, decided the appropriate horse and tack for each rider and ensured that safety precautions were taken for riders, volunteers, families and horses.

In addition, England has served as volunteer coordinator and instructor for Great Strides, a therapeutic horse riding program in Chelsea, Mich.

"She is ideally suited to provide leadership for this important community service," said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice.

England also has experience in higher education, having served as associate director of career services at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich. In that position, she developed curriculum for career classes from the freshman to senior level, taught career classes, trained and supervised instructors, collaborated with other academic departments to integrate career classes and developed internship programs for students. Previously, she worked as a placement specialist at the Davenport College Career Center in Grand Rapids, where she worked with students to develop resumes, interview skills and job search strategies.

England received a master of science in education from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., and a bachelor of science in management from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.

Each year, the Bit by Bit Therapeutic Horse Riding Program at RSU serves more than 80 students, who may have cognitive, developmental, behavioral or physical challenges. Through the help of certified instructors and volunteers, riders develop strength, balance, coordination, sequencing, verbalization and cause-and-effect skills. Five full-time positions are budgeted for the program this year, including Director of the Bit-by-Bit Therapeutic Riding Program, Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Manager, Office Manager, and Caretaker. Certified part-time instructors are occasionally employed to teach classes for the Bit-by-Bit program. Seven RSU students are employed in part-time positions in the program. In addition, more than 75 volunteers assist with the program each year. For more information, call (918) 371-1750.