The New Kid on the Block

The New Kid on the Block

AQHYA Region 8 Director Alan Hinds of Lawrence, Kansas, shares his motivation to serve AQHYA in a leadership position with AQHYA First Vice President McKenzie Merritt.
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By McKenzie Merritt

Every year at the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar, American Quarter Horse Youth Association members elect the new national officers and regional directors for AQHYA for the upcoming year. Each of the leadership team candidates complete an application, workbook covering AQHA history and AQHYA programs, proceed through an interview process, campaign with AQHYA members; deliver a prepared speech, and answer an impromptu question.  

This year, we elected five national officers and 13 regional directors to the 2016-17 leadership team. Six of the regional directors this year are first-time candidates. After YES, I was able to interview three of them about their reason for joining our “block” as a leadership team and what they plan to accomplish throughout the next year. 

This year, Region 8 has three representatives in director positions. I was able to catch up with Alan Hinds, one of your new Region 8 directors from Lawrence, Kansas. Alan shares his motivation to serve AQHYA in a leadership position as well as his experience from YES. 

What motivated you to run for a leadership position?
I wanted to run for a director position so that I could give back to an organization that has done so much for me. In 2012, I was selected to be a part of the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program and I received a weanling from the Open Box Rafter Ranch. Through the program, I was able to compete for scholarships and prizes by working with my weanling, submitting monthly reports and completing a knowledge-based workbook. The Young Horse Development Program was the catalyst that brought my family back to AQHA. While reading AQHA’s 2015 Annual Report, I was shocked to read that since 2007 our youth membership has decreased by more than 25 percent! I decided that it was time for me to take a leap and run for regional director to do my part in turning this trend around so that AQHYA can continue to provide youth with opportunities to learn new things, meet new people and build on their passion for the equine industry and the American Quarter Horse. 

What are some of your goals for this year?
As part of the AQHYA Outreach Committee, I hope to share with other youth organizations the many opportunities that AQHA and AQHYA provide. A lot of people see AQHA as an elite level show organization. However, only 15 percent of AQHA members show at AQHA shows. AQHYA offers many opportunities for youth that don’t require showing, including the Young Horse Development Program, the Bank of America Racing Experience, Junior Master Horseman and many more at the national and affiliate levels. I also hope to continue working with the committee to further develop our resource guide that contains example outreach activities for affiliates and individuals to put on. This year, I hope to work with my fellow Region 8 directors to hold a Region 8 conference that allows youth from Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas to come together for an exciting weekend of activities to see old friends, make new friends and to share our passion for the American Quarter Horse. 

What are you most excited for in your position? I am super excited to work with the other directors to promote the equine industry and the American Quarter Horse and to bring new members into our organization.

Who inspired and supported you to run for this position? My parents, Mark and Bobbie Hinds; my aunt, Jackie VanPetten; a family friend, Kelly Loganbill; and my fellow youth all supported me throughout my journey. From helping with campaign slogans and poster designs, to helping condense my resume and providing transportation to YES, my family and friends have and continue to support me as a Region 8 director. 

What was your favorite part about YES this year? Meeting new people and hearing everyone’s ideas for the future of our organization. This year, I met many new people from my region and throughout the states. One of my new friends isn’t even from the states; Jim Stors is from Luxembourg and was just elected to serve as an AQHYA executive member. Talking with Jim and other members gave me a new perspective of our Association that I had never seen and I plan to use as a Region 8 director. 

What do you think is the most beneficial lesson that a youth takes away from YES? If attendees were to take only one thing away from YES, it should be that while we all have different experiences, disciplines and dreams for the future, we can all come together to have fun, make new friends and continue to develop our organization, because of one connection: the American Quarter Horse. This concept that very different groups of people can come together to achieve a common goal because of one shared passion, can be transferred to almost everything we do in life. 

About AQHYA Officers and Directors
AQHYA national officers and regional directors play a major role in the youth association by planning events, participating in community service projects and spreading the word about American Quarter Horses, youth activities and AQHYA. They also represent AQHYA throughout the year at functions and events nationwide.

Each of AQHYA’s 11 regions can elect three directors at the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar. From those directors, delegates elect five national officers.

Throughout the year, the officers and directors network with horse enthusiasts throughout the industry to ensure a successful future for the industry. AQHYA officers and directors set goals to grow youth involvement in every aspect of the equine world, uphold the integrity of the breed and work toward ensuring the future of the industry. 

AQHYA national officers and regional directors have a unique opportunity to develop leadership skills to enhance their AQHYA experience and all of their future endeavors. All youth are encouraged to get involved.

For more information on the regional directors and five national officers for the 2016-17 term, visit