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Virtual partnership promotes equine careers to Kentucky students

Friends of Horse Country, Kentucky Equine Education Project, Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center combine to highlight opportunities

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A series of virtual learning experiences has launched to highlight careers and workforce development opportunities within the equine industry. Nearly 400 students joined the first session hosted by Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. This session, provided by Friends of Horse Country, the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center and Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), is part of a series that will showcase several equine locations across Kentucky.

The virtual Bus to Business program, created by the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center, aims to connect students to possible careers and employers to future workforce opportunities. Originally, the program was intended to provide an in-person learning experience; however, virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic has provided the opportunity for more students from across Kentucky to take advantage of the career program.  

“In 2020, we learned virtual experiences can be a powerful tool for bringing our Horse Country to audiences around the world, with just a few clicks, and that experiences at our locations – in person or virtually are also powerful tools for interest in our industry,” said Anne Sabatino Hardy, executive director of Visit Horse Country. “Many of our members are also partners in the Equine Talent Pipeline project and members of the Kentucky Chamber; it was a natural partnership to leverage our priority on experiences as we know our industry also is prioritizing workforce development in the equine industry.”

“Like many states and industries around the country, the equine industry in Kentucky is struggling to find qualified workers to fill its workforce ranks. Because of that, the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) works with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Workforce Center to address the shortage of qualified equine workers on a state level. Through employer led work groups, the industry is able to communicate their needs with education and workforce partners, as well as educate communities about the career possibilities within the industry. One of the ways of reaching a broader network is through the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center’s Bus to Business program,” said Laurie Mays, project manager, Equine Talent Pipeline.

“We are excited to expand the reach of the Bus to Business program to more students across Kentucky through this school year’s virtual program. We are thrilled to partner with Horse Country on this equine-specific series to show students career pathway opportunities that are so important to Kentucky’s economy,” said Harper Smith, manager of the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center.

The program will continue through the spring on virtual platforms, both live and archived on the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Interested students may register at www.kychamber.com/bustobusiness. Other locations planned to participate include (check final details prior to dates for any changes): February 10th – Claiborne Farm, March 17th – Mill Ridge Farm, April 21st – Hallway Feeds, April 28th – Kentucky Equine Adoption Center, May 12th – Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.