By Ross Creech
Support for GMOs is of the utmost importance to USDF and its leadership. To that end, USDF has continually strived to provide opportunities for GMOs to enhance their offerings to their members and further USDF’s mission of education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. Whether due to a lack of awareness or a lack of time/money/volunteers, USDF provides many different resources and opportunities to help GMOs combat many of these roadblocks.
The GMO Education Initiative was established to create and support new and affordable programs to engage members, while delivering high caliber instruction and educational content consistent with the classical principles of dressage and the Pyramid of Training. GMOs can host any of four different event formats (clinics/symposia, ride-a-test clinics, camps, and unmounted events), each USDF University accredited, and with USDF assisting GMOs to create a program that will meet the needs of their membership. Additionally, GMOs hosting approved programs are eligible to apply for GMO Education Initiative Grants of up to $1,000 per event. These grants are awarded with consideration given to financial need, program affordability, local need and accessibility for members with limited access to dressage instruction, and regional/geographical representation.
Does your GMO host schooling shows? USDF’s new Regional Schooling Show Awards Program provides regional, year-end recognition to Group Members competing in schooling shows. In order to participate, a GMO simply needs to sign their show up through the USDF website. Then, any Group Members who competed at the show, and have signed up for the program themselves, will be eligible to submit their scores from the show towards the award rankings. This is another way that USDF can support GMOs and participation in their events, while also recognizing their members for their accomplishments in the saddle!
Available on the GMO Guide page of the USDF website, which features many resources and relevant information on opportunities available, are prepackaged education lectures on topics such as Using Goals to Improve Training, Volunteer Training, Scribe Training,and more. Each of these lectures lasts only 1-2 hours and are structured in a way that anyone can lead the lecture and discussion. Each of the lectures provided is self-contained and includes all of the collateral materials needed, such as a lesson plan, handouts, and media. These prepackaged unmounted educational lectures allow ANY GMO to host an educational event for their members with minimal planning and effort involved!
Each year, GMOs submit nominations for the annual GMO Newsletter Awards utilizing featured first-person experience and general interest articles from their newsletters over the past 12 months. The winners, as well as many of the nominated submissions, are published on YourDressage throughout the year, allowing the national dressage community to connect with your GMO and its members on a more personal level, by sharing their stories. However, did you know that YourDressage offers several other ways to promote your GMO? In addition to publishing the articles submitted for GMO awards, YourDressage has run multiple series focusing on highlighting GMOs and their members. The GMO Spotlight series provided an opportunity for every USDF GMO to provide information on their club and its activities, while the Unsung Heroes series provided an opportunity for GMOs to celebrate and provide recognition to those who so often go unnoticed or are taken for granted, such as the horse show mom/dad spending their weekend playing groom for their kid at a show, the concession stand worker who always greets everyone with a big smile and a congratulations on their ride, or the maintenance worker/volunteer that keeps the show grounds looking beautiful throughout the competition, enhancing the experience for all in attendance. Additionally, articles recapping exciting events that your GMO has hosted are a great way to gain exposure for your GMO, and article submissions are always welcome for YourDressage!
Each month, USDF releases our national electronic newsletter that goes to the entirety of the USDF membership. Within each issue of USDF eNews, there are links included which take the member to region-specific news, which is populated by the corresponding USDF Regional Director. A great way to get your message and promotions out to your audience is to submit items to the regional director for inclusion in the regional enews section of USDF eNews. While items chosen for inclusion are at the discretion of the RD, this is an opportunity that should be utilized by EVERY GMO! Also, on the trusty GMO Guide page, GMOs have the opportunity to submit their events to be included on the National Education Calendar and Map.
SO MUCH MORE!
USDF offers a variety of resources to GMOs and their members, and many of them can be accessed through USDF University! Through USDF University, GMOs can access our full educational research library, online courses, virtual education series, apply to host University or GMO Education Initiative programs, etc. All of these resources serve to support GMOs in developing education offerings for their members and provide an invaluable resource for content and collateral materials. Other resources available to GMOs include the aforementioned GMO Guide, customized year-end award reports showing where a GMOs members ranked within the Adequan®/USDF Year-End Award Standings, and access for their officials to join the GMO Officials Facebook Group, where they can share ideas and feedback with other GMOs around the country, further strengthening the connection amongst USDF’s dressage community.
In addition to all of the resources and opportunities outlined above, USDF staff and volunteers are also always available to offer guidance and support. For instance, USDF logos and ads can be requested through the Marketing Department, the Group Member Organizations Committee has representation from every USDF region and is ready to help with any questions or guidance needed, and the Education Department is readily available to assist with applying to host programs, having events USDF University Accredited, and submitting GMO Education Initiative Grant applications.
GROUP MEMBERS, encourage your GMOs to explore and take advantage of all USDF has to offer and get the most out of your Group Member experience!