June 6, 2009

Elizabeth LaBonty has been named lecturer and internship coordinator for the equine science and management undergraduate degree program within the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

The four-year Bachelor of Science degree program has enrolled approximately 120 students since launching in fall 2007. An internship is required for the degree, and LaBonty will coordinate matching undergraduate students with positions that offer educational opportunities within the horse industry. She is also tasked with teaching classes in the program.

"I look forward to working with Elizabeth and expect that her input and efforts will help move this program forward," said Bob Coleman, associate director of equine education and extension horse specialist at UK. "She embraces the concept of a science-based degree and brings strengths in teaching and student internship placement to this position."

            "I have been watching the Equine Initiative since it started and am so excited to be a part of this great team," LaBonty said. "I want to develop the best, most diverse internship program in the country, one that will benefit both students and the industry alike. My goal is to build meaningful internship opportunities with industry leaders that will help shape and educate each student."

LaBonty was most recently equine instructor and program coordinator for the North American Riding Academy within the equine program at the Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Prior to that position, she was an equine instructor at the Laramie County Community College in Wyoming. She is a graduate of the Lexington-based Kentucky Equine Management Internship program and has worked in many equine areas, including the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industries, as well as in rodeo.

LaBonty earned her master's degree in animal biology from the University of California at Davis and her bachelor's in animal biology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She also holds an artificial insemination certificate from ABS Global.

She is a member of the National Education Association of Higher Education and Phi Sigma Honor Society, which is devoted to the promotion of research and academic excellence in the biological sciences.

            "We are fortunate to have a tremendous opportunity for internships because of our location in the heart of the horse industry," Coleman said. "We are looking forward to working with the horse industry in Kentucky and across the county to provide sound educational opportunities for our students, which is what internships are all about."

"The Equine Initiative reflects the college's commitment to the equine industry to provide a relevant education that is appropriate for the horse capital of the world," said Nancy Cox, associate dean for research and director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station. "The internship program is critical to the goal of preparing our students for the future workforce and we have been fortunate to have industry stakeholders such as Dan Rosenberg, past president and chief operating officer of Three Chimneys Farm, and Norm Luba, past president of the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association, play a key role in the undergraduate program's development."

LaBonty said she is excited about the tasks before her and looks forward to helping students gain valuable educational experiences through their internship work in the industry.

"Being a good instructor is only one part to the ultimate goal of education -- preparing students for the jobs they will love as much as I do mine. Just as hands-on experience reinforces classroom concepts, a strong internship program extends an equine program into the industry," LaBonty said.

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Writer: Holly Wiemers, 859-257-2226

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