Super kid

Horse lover: Volunteers 10 to 15 hours per week at Equifriends, a nonprofit therapeutic riding center for people with disabilities. Grew from a childhood love of horses. “But now it’s more than that. It’s the staff, the environment. It’s just a great place to work.”

Focusing on passion: Used to play basketball and softball in school but has given up those sports to devote more time to the horses and the people who ride them. “I really like sports, but I’d rather come here.”

Besides…: The time she devotes to the activity “is like being in a sport.” Volunteers after school each day. In the summer, she’s there weekends, too. Named Equifriends’ Teen Volunteer of the Year for 2006.

Duties: Grooms and tacks up horses, then warms them up in the arena before helping a scheduled rider mount and ride. Then puts the horse back in its stall and helps feed and groom others.

Horse “Mom”: Each horse has a “mom” that cares for it. Hers was Spencer, who recently died at age 26 after a string of sicknesses and complications. “Now my favorite is Bubba. He’s the first horse I ever rode here.” Spencer liked to lick people. “All these horses have little funny personalities.”

Life lessons: Looks up to her instructors, who have been on her lately about her focus when riding. It’s helped her on school tests. Riding also requires her to be assertive, which has helped her self-confidence.

Future: “I would really like to work with horses and people – something like this.” For now, plans to take a variety of courses to keep her options open.

Good student: Getting A’s in history, band, PE, English and science, while “scraping by with a B” in geometry.

Recent interest: After learning golf in her PE class, has an interest in the sport. Played once with her dad and got a birdie. “I just hit the ball and hope it goes in the hole.”

Science interest: Has competed in Science Olympiad since seventh grade. Is preparing for a local competition in March for events on maps, metric measurement, the solar system and science vocabulary.

Pets: Has a black lab mix, Kato, and a cat, Howie. “When he’s bad we call him Howard.” Kato has run away from Howie, as well as from a chicken. Howie, meanwhile, likes to lay in the path of oncoming traffic. Also has tropical fish, but no names. “You can’t tell them apart.”

Approach to life: “I don’t care if I’m popular. I just want to be fair, honest and nice to everybody.”

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