Tucked away at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in rural Forest, Virginia lies Brook Hill Farm, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, located on a sixty acre property where miracles happen. Horses that have been neglected or injured are given the opportunity to rest, recover, and start new lives. Children and adults are given the opportunity to heal. Thanks to the wonderful staff and volunteers, Brook Hill is able to provide rehabilitation focused services and safe haven for unwanted horses, while maintaining a unique opportunity for personal growth and equine education for area youth and adults. We thank our current year board members for making our organization such a success.
Board Members Dianna Kornblum - Chair Joanne Cole Leslie Graham - Vice Chair Joy Williams Karen Fessler Jane Burks - Treasurer Nikki Kariuki Teresa Houck Kristin Bushing - Secretary Barb Hatin
Meet Our Staff
Jo Anne Miller - Executive Director
Eighteen years ago we bought a farm in Bedford County, and over dinner my wonderful Vet and I were talking. “What, take in lame horses, are you crazy?” These were my exact words, and 2 years later Brook Hill Retirement Center for Horses was created. He, and eventually I, saw the need of the thousands of lame horses needing a place to recover. With my background in corporate management, dealing with lameness issues, and with a BA in education, we founded the rehabilitation and educational programs leading to our success. During our early years we were amazed at how these horses healed with the help of our volunteers and youth. The horses were able to go on and lead productive lives, and the children involved grew into strong, confident, caring adults. In 2011, I joined with PATH International and became a Registered Riding Instructor and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, allowing Brook Hill to grow its educational and therapeutic programs. Having completed the mentor workshop, I am excited to mentor others wanting to become certified through PATH International. I have spoken at national conferences and provided webinars in both Equine Welfare and Equine Therapy. In 2015 I attended a select forum sponsored by the Homes for Horses Coalition and its sponsors the ASPCA, the Animal Welfare Institute and The Humane Society of the United States, and then spoke at the Homes for Horses Coalition Conference. Currently, I am putting together a college course for Equine Assisted Therapies in conjunction with Randolph College, with an anticipated start date of the fall of 2016. Combining rescue and therapeutic riding has created a win-win situation for both horses and people!
Tracy Russler - Assistant Director
Growing up on a farm, Tracy is a natural fit for our program. A horse enthusiast with a BA in business administration, Tracy has been an important part of this organization since its beginning. She is in charge of the day to day operation of the facility, managing volunteers, maintaining our website, creating a database and assisting the staff where needed. She has her certification from PATH International as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, and helps with United Neigh by handling the administration work for the Brook Hill Farm 4-H Horse and Pony Club and is a Center Administrator for the Brook Hill United States Pony Club Center. The staff could not function without her!
Penny Hawes - BHSAI Trainer/Riding Instructor
Penny Hawes has been involved with horses for most of her life. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she earned her British Horse Society Assistant Instructor's Certificate and has taught in the US and the UK for over 35 years. She's also certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horseman Intl. (PATH Intl.) as a Registered Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning.
Jennyfer Alvarenga - Working Student
Jennyfer started as an intern while she finished her degree from Liberty University in Family and Consumer Science. She has graduated and we are lucky to have her onboard. She will continue to help our youth in the classroom and help out with volunteers. We are excited to bring her into the Brook Hill Family - she brings her expertise both in tutoring and organization, and is quick to help us with projects around the farm.
Maria Muller - Barn Help
Maria has joined the Brook Hill Family helping with caring for the horses and the barn. She is working to earn her EMT certification, and one day hopes to het her PATH certification to help with the youth in the program.
Veterinarian - Dr. Ronald Fessler
Doctor Fessler is one of the main reasons for our success - a graduate from Iowa State he has been a part of Brook Hill Farm from the beginning. He is a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the Virginia Association of Equine Practitioners. Every horse that has come through our program owes their recovery to the brilliance of this man!
Veterinarian - Dr Martha Moses
Doctor Moses has been a valuable part of our team since our inception. A graduate of Virginia Tech, she brings her veterinary, acupuncture and chiropractic skills to help in healing our horses. And of course a visit from Martha is not complete without Charlie!
Richard Nunnely - Farrier
Richard joins our team bringing consistent, quality hoof care to our horses. He is a graduate of the Eastern School of Farriery, and he did his internship with the best - Bud Caudy. He started his own business in 1994, and has been a reputable farrier in the Lynchburg area ever since.
Roger Henderson - "Director of First Impressions"
As the 2014 Volunteer of the year, Roger has been a dedicated volunteer spending on average two days a week making sure our farm looks pristine, and heads up our construction projects with knowledge and talent. With the help of his buddies Danny and Bob, there is nothing they can't build! Brook Hill would not be where it is today without this wonderful man!
Georgia Fauber - "Brook Hill Cheerleader"
Georgia brings her enthusiasm and love of horses and children to aid in supporting fundraising efforts at Brook Hill Farm. She is the founder of our annual gala "An Evening at Trivium". We could not be as successful without her help.
Ed Wennerstrom - Photographer
Ed joins the Brook Hill Family as our photographer - he has had his pictures in international publications such as 'The Rotarian' and 'The Christian Science Monitor', and his photos have been used on several national websites including the ASPCA and the Thoroughbred Charities. He is loved by all, and the youth check the board each Monday to see who has their picture posted for the Rider of the Week! He is our Volunteer of the year for 2015.
Shawn Thacker -Equine Dentist
Shawn joins our farm as our equine dentist. He completed his training at the American School of Equine Dentistry in Purcellville Virginia. He is both a dentist and a farrier, and has become a valuable part of our team.
John and Joy Williams
Joy joins us as an Educational Specialist, assisting behind the scenes with our youth. She is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education - K through 12, with endorsements in Intellectual Disabilities and Learning Disabilities. As a Special Education teacher for the past 35 years, she brings a level of expertise and excellence to our EFL programs!
Her husband John has the important job of keeping our computers running! He has worked as a field service engineer for over 38 years, and is now the owner of Virginia Home Computing (www.vahomecomputing.com). He does installation, malware removal and repair of computers and networking in homes and offices. Our computers would not function without him!
Jay Miller - Field Control
With his wife in charge of the program, it naturally has become his job to look after the property and fields. He also assists in the general care of the horses. We cannot thank him enough for helping with our endeavor!
We have so many other dedicated volunteer staff that help us every day. A special thanks to these individuals for helping make Brook Hill run smoothly!
Jennifer Cervantes - Lawyer Marty Giudice - Business Consultant
In memory of Bud Caudy
Bud Caudy was a part of Brook Hill Farm since its inception. Bud completed his training at the Oklahoma Farriers College and had been a farrier for over 35 years. He was a member of the American Farriers Association and the Brotherhood of Farriers. The old saying no-hoof no-horse rings true - but with Bud on our staff, even the worst case foot scenarios would improve! Our horses and staff will miss him terribly!