From AQHYA to Influencing Agricultural Policy

AQHYA leadership experiences help launch Austin Halvorson to a congressional internship in Washington, D.C.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

AQHA Past President Johnny Trotter and AQHYA Past President Austin Halvorson stop in front of a painting of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan during Austin's first trip to Washington, D.C. (Credit: Jana Trotter)

American Quarter Horse Youth Association Past President Austin Halvorson is headed to Washington, D.C., to pursue his dream of working with agricultural policy. The Texas A&M University freshman will be interning for the U.S. Congressional House Committee on Agriculture. 

Austin’s roots with American Quarter Horse Association leadership run deep; his mother, Rebecca, served as AQHA youth adviser for Oklahoma as Austin was growing up, and his father, Wayne, served as a national director. His parents, who are AQHA Professional Horsemen in Guthrie, Oklahoma, grew in Austin a passion for all facets of the American Quarter Horse industry; he began trail riding and competing in junior rodeos at a young age before moving into the halter ring at age 9. Austin also competed in roping and was involved with 4-H. Austin’s sister, Lauren, showed as well, and he recalls many summers when he attended the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show both as an exhibitor and as a spectator. 

Austin’s involvement with AQHYA extended beyond showing into leadership positions. He held a variety of offices, which include service on the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association youth board of directors and as AQHYA president. Over the years, he attended the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar; traveled to Hartford, Connecticut, with the American Youth Horse Council; worked with the National High School Rodeo Association; and represented AQHA on a trip to the nation’s capitol – his first taste of Washington, D.C. 

Phillip Alden, Ann Elizabeth Tebow and Austin Halvorson represent AQHYA in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Lindsay Brush)
From left: AQHYA officers and directors Phillip Alden, Ann Elizabeth Tebow and Austin Halvorson in Washington, D.C. in 2014. (Credit: Lindsay Brush)

“Each office taught me a different aspect of leadership that I find invaluable today and that has led to my success,” Austin says. “I would be lying if I didn't say AQHYA has made me the person I am today.”

Austin says he believes the speaking skills, knowledge and experience he acquired through serving as AQHYA president helped him earn his current internship. 

“I was able to relate to the panel of interviewers and their agricultural backgrounds and provide them with proof that I am thoroughly experienced.”

Austin continues to represent AQHA on the youth activities committee and is applying to gain a spot on the public policy committee.

Although Austin’s career goals are to continue working in Washington, D.C., he also aspires to follow his parents’ paths of working closely with AQHA. He hopes to one day become a director like his father. 

“My family has always been dedicated to making AQHA the best it can be, and I want to continue that.”