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Fifteen scholarships have been presented to youth with horse backgrounds and interests in pursuing equine careers.  

As executive director of the Kansas Horse Council (KHC), Manhattan, Justine Staten made the presentations at Manhattan’s historic Sedalia Church. 

A KHC affiliate, the Kansas Horse Council Foundation (KHCF) is a 501c3 non-profit founded in 2003, Staten said. “Mission is encouraging learning and higher education pursuits of individuals involved in the equine industry.”  

Managed by a board of directors, the foundation’s “goal is to support these endeavors with scholarships funded by auctions and donations.”  

Former Kansas Lieutenant Governor Dave Owen, a rodeo cowboy and business leader, challenged the recipients in opening remarks. 

Joyce Troyer, KHCF Scholarship Selection Committee member from Manhattan, assisted with the PowerPoint presentations honoring both recent high school graduates and college students. 

High School 

Cash Fuesz, son of Cory and Heather Fuesz at Eureka, is a champion high school rodeo and horse show participant. Anticipating majoring in ag economics at Weatherford College, Fuesz plans to become a professional real estate agent and appraiser. 

Alexa Gerdes, daughter of Aaron and Amy Gerdes at Dodge City, shows Quarter Horses and has participated in the Youth Excellence Seminar. Anticipating majoring in psychology and criminology at Texas Christian University, Gerdes plans to become a forensics psychologist doing investigative work. 

Michaela Gruber, daughter of Mickey and Marcy Gruber of Hiawatha, is Miss Rodeo Topeka having participated in Western dressage and hippotherapy. Anticipating majoring in agriculture at Highland Community College, Gruber plans to become a Heartland Horseshoeing School certified farrier.  

Rileigh Holcomb, daughter of Cody Holcomb, Dodge City, and Jessica Stout, Ford, enjoys learning something new every day about horses. Anticipating majoring in horse production and management at Colby Community College, Holcomb plans to train horses and give riding lessons. 

Taylor “Tee” Koch, son of Larry and Kristi Koch at Clyde, grew up working with horses through 4-H and rodeos. Anticipating majoring in agribusiness/animal science at Fort Hays State University, Koch plans to become a professional farrier and horse trainer.  

Kelli Kychik, daughter of Corey and Michele Kychik at Topeka, is a hunter and jumper horse show competitor. Anticipating majoring in radiology at Washburn University, Kychik plans on a career in radiology.  

Hailey Sharp, daughter of Lance and Jada Sharp at Leonardville, participates in 4-H horse events and Kansas Western Horseman’s Association. Anticipating majoring in agribusiness/health performance at Cloud County Community College, Sharp plans to work with international agriculture and coach sports. 


Caitlyn Champagne, daughter of Chris and Carolyn Champagne at Lawrence, is a nationwide champion Quarter Horse exhibitor. Majoring in Spanish, kinesiology, and physiology at Kansas State University, Champagne plans to become a physical therapist.  

Courtney Clinesmith, daughter of Bill and Stephanie Clinesmith at Cimarron, has been committed to 4-H and saddle club horse shows. Majoring in agribusiness at Kansas State University, Clinesmith plans to work in agribusiness sales. 

Morgan Clinesmith, daughter of Bill and Stephanie Clinesmith at Cimarron, has competed for Colby in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Anticipating majoring in equine business at West Texas A&M, Clinesmith plans to be involved in equine breeding or training. 

Alan Hinds, son of Mark and Bobbie Hinds at Tonganoxie, is a national Quarter Horse and rodeo leader. Majoring in ag economics at Kansas State University, Hinds plans to become a professor with teaching, Extension and research appointments.  

Chancy Johnson, daughter of Chad and Janon Johnson at Dwight, has extensive rodeo arena successes on all levels. Majoring in agribusiness and accounting at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Johnson plans to be an ag educator in a rural community.  

Alyssa Leslie, daughter of Garret Leslie and Toni Woodson both at Inman, is a successful collegiate/professional horse show judge/clinician. Accepted into veterinary college studies at Kansas State University, Leslie plans to become a veterinarian specializing in equine reproduction.  

Kirsten Miessler, daughter of Ron and Heather Miessler at Great Bend, is a 4-H and Intercollegiate Horse Show Association competitor. Majoring in elementary education at Colby Community College, Miessler plans to teach lower-level grade school emphasizing introducing children to agriculture.  

Megan Miller, daughter of Mike and Wendi Miller at Oskaloosa, is a 4-H and Intercollegiate Horse Show Association competitor. Majoring in accounting at Kansas State University majoring, Miller plans to become a certified public accountant while continuing horse endeavors.