Tell us your job title and main responsibilities. How long have you worked here?
I’m the assistant farm manager here at the equine barns at UConn, and I have a long list of responsibilities. One of the more demanding things that I do is hire and train college undergrads. We hire anywhere from 20 to 25 a semester. During the summer we hire a lot less, maybe five or six, because they’re full time; during the school year the students work only 2 and a half hour shifts.
Additionally, I’m in charge of working with the veterinarian and scheduling his visits. If one of our horses has an injury or is sick, I’ll ask the veterinarian to come out and take a look. We also breed our own horses here on campus. We try to breed at least six Morgans a year, to keep the bloodline going. In those cases, I also do the scheduling for the veterinarian to come out for things like ultrasounds, ovary status and cultures. When the vet does come, I’ll email the Pre-Vet Club president and let them know so they can come down and partake.
Another main responsibility includes keeping track of all 85 horses on campus. Each horse has an individual health chart, which I maintain. This includes recording things like teeth exams, deworming, any injuries and annual vaccinations.
I’ve happily been on campus for 36 years.
Name one aspect of your work that you really like.
That’s hard because I love working with the horses obviously, but I also like working with the students a lot. I like the fact that I can teach them something just from my everyday routine. I have students that will come in for a break between classes or during their free time, and they’ll ask if they can follow me around. It’s great that I have kids that want to learn.
Have you ever had another job at UConn?
Out of the 36 years I’ve been here, the first six were spent in the Department of Nutritional Sciences as an ag worker. I worked with grad students and helped maintain small lab animals for research. Then the manager and assistant manager retired from the Horse Unit, so John Bennett and I both came in and have been here for the last 30 years.
Did your favorite class in high school/college prepare you
for what you do now?
Not so much the classes, but the hands-on experience I gained prepared me for what I do now.
I’m a local, so on my lunch hour in high school I would walk over to the barns and follow the managers and the veterinarians around on their daily chore. I audited some of the classes up here, so I was able to get some hands-on experience very early on.
In high school, I was allowed to do work-study. I went out and I found a local horse barn that boarded, rented out horses and gave lessons. I loved it, and I think I really excelled in school because of it. I became very interested in science and biology, which I normally was not interested in at all.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like doing things with my family. We go to car shows, horseback riding and four wheeling with my son and daughter. We used to go camping when they were young, and we’ve started doing it again because my daughter and I are on the hunt for a specific breed of horse. We’ve been to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and ran into a snow storm on our way to Michigan, looking for this particular horse.
I also volunteer to run the Drill Team here. I’ve been the coach and advisor for the UConn Morgan drill team for the last 30 years. We are a club sport, and I’m very proud that they accepted us immediately.
The team performs precision riding to music. I teach the students how to do maneuvers and they all pick it up so quickly. It’s a great feeling when the kids get it and everything falls into place. It blows me away when parents come in and tell me the only reason their son or daughter is here is because of the Drill Team. I also get a lot of shy kids on the team, ones that get left out because they’re too shy to speak up. After one semester, they’re no longer shy. The team gets them out of their shell. That is a great feeling and really means a lot to me.
Name your favorite Dairy Bar flavor.
I’m not a big ice cream fan, but when I go there I get chocolate chip mint ice cream.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I have a small farm at home. I have three horses at the moment; I have four stalls, so of course we’ve got to fill that empty spot. My kids are now in their 20s. As they grew up they got involved with 4-H and FFA, so we always had animals at our home. Back then, we had sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, dogs and cats. Now that they’re grown, we’ve whittled it down to dogs, cats, horses and cows. I absolutely love it. Running my family farm doesn’t feel like work to me at all.
I used to go to the beach a lot. I was very fortunate growing up that my parents had a place right near Misquamicut. When my parents passed, we sold the house so I bought a pool for my home.