Spotlight On: GMO Awards


Ask anyone associated with USDF and they will tell you uninhibitedly that “GMOs are the backbone of the organization!” …and it’s true! Nearly 50 years ago, in 1973 Lincoln, Nebraska, 25 dressage clubs, many still in existence today, came together in their love of horse and equestrian sport to form the organization we have all come to know and love. These clubs became the charter Group Member Organizations (GMOs) of the newly established United States Dressage Federation and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since the beginning, GMOs have continued to be the core of USDF, and for more than twenty years, USDF has awarded annual GMO Awards to recognize their exemplary efforts in supporting the USDF mission of education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. To that end, the initial GMO Newsletter Awards were established to recognize outstanding layout and design, as well as editorial, in both general interest and first-person experience categories.

Fast forward to 2022, and the GMO Awards have expanded to include not only general interest and first-person experience articles, but also recognition of Regional GMO Volunteers of the Year, excellence in website and photography, and program creativity.

Additionally, in 2001, USDF established the Ruth Arvanette Memorial Fund. During her professional life, Ruth Arvanette served as an employee of both USDF and The Dressage Foundation, and played an instrumental role in establishing many USDF programs that are still in effect today, such as the All-Breeds Awards program. Because of her longtime support of USDF, her passion for dressage, and her goal of making attendance at the USDF Annual Convention attainable for everyone (specifically Group Members), USDF was thrilled to establish this fund in Ruth’s honor, which awards one grant annually to help offset the cost of a deserving Group Member to attend the annual convention.

*The deadline for all GMO Award nominations and submissions to be received by USDF is August 31*

As the sport, organization, and number of official Group Member Organizations grew, so did the pool of deserving clubs and individuals eligible for GMO Awards. As such, GMO Newsletter, Website, and Photography Awards are now broken down into four size categories, with first and second place awarded in each. These size categories allow GMOs to compete for top honors against other GMOs with comparable budgets, support etc. The breakdowns are as follows: GMOs with less than 75 members, GMOs with 75 – 174 members, GMOs with 175 – 499 members, and GMOs with 500 or more members.

As with the Ruth Arvanette Memorial Fund Grants, only one Creative GMO-Sponsored Program Award is presented each year, and only one GMO volunteer per USDF Region is selected from the nominees. Some notable Regional GMO Volunteers have gone on to be recognized for their national volunteer efforts as USDF Volunteer of the Year, such as the Kentucky Dressage Association’s Sheila Woerth and Eastern States Dressage & CTA’s Debbie DelGiorno.

With USDF serving as the voice and authority for dressage sport and the dressage community in this country, it is our esteemed privilege to be able to recognize the clubs and individuals who are the foundation of our organization. Without the efforts of all of these entities and their combined love of horse and sport, neither USDF nor dressage would be what they are today, and their futures wouldn’t look nearly as promising.

So, don’t miss out on an opportunity to show your support and gratitude to these groups and individuals. Submit nominations for all GMO Award categories now… there’s still time! 2022 GMO Awards will be presented as part of the 2022 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention in Lexington, KY. Visit the GMO Awards page for full criteria and nomination forms, and visit the 2022 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention event page to make plans to attend!

*The deadline for all GMO Award nominations and submissions to be received by USDF is August 31*

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