2022 Research Project Fair in Review

By Liz Moyer, USPC Fundraising and Marketing Coordinator

Another United States Pony Clubs (USPC) Research Project Fair is in the books, and Pony Club’s science-minded members once again impressed judges with their exploration of equine topics. Presented by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and supported by Kentucky Equine Research, the 2022 USPC Research Project Fair offered a virtual division as well as in-person entries at the USPC Convention held January 26-30, 2022, in Norfolk, Va.

About the United States Pony Clubs Research Project Fair

The USPC Research Project Fair provides members with an opportunity to explore their passion for horses and horsemanship through hypothesis-driven projects or in-depth reviews of the literature.

Projects can help members prepare for certifications, search for answers to their biggest horse-related questions, or find ways to better understand their own horse’s behavior. This year, topics ranged from the benefits of composting, absorbency of different bedding types, and coat color genetics, to the important and age-old question—can horses really talk?—as well as many others!

“The ultimate goal of the Research Project Fair is to provide a forum in which members can explore a topic of interest to them and share their findings,” explained USPC Research Project Fair organizer Yvette Seger, PhD “Sometimes this involves a deep dive into existing resources, while others may require an experimental framework. There is truly a place for everyone!”

Michaela F. presenting. Photo by The United States Pony Clubs.

Seger’s favorite part about the Research Project Fair is listening to the members present their process for exploring their topic of interest—what prompted them to explore this topic? How did they design their study? Did they have any unexpected findings? And most importantly, what might they want to explore next? “It’s a fantastic way for members to use their passion for horses to drive research methodology,” she says.

Supporting the Future

The 2022 participants showcased their projects with a visual display and short presentation to the panel of judges, including Adrienne Bushau-Sprinkle, PhD; and Bo Varnado for the virtual fair, and in person at the 2022 USPC Convention in Norfolk, Va., with judges Kelly Tighe; Kelly Vaughn, PhD; and Shawna White.

The event is made possible each year through the support of generous sponsors like the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and Kentucky Equine Research, and numerous volunteers with expertise in biological research, science education, and Pony Club curriculum who volunteer their time as judges.

“Grayson is proud to sponsor the United States Pony Clubs Research Project Fair,” said Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation Director of Development Holly White. “We hope that through this partnership, we are encouraging young scientists to be mindful of horse health and safety at an early age. It’s wonderful to see the variety of research fair projects, from genetics and wound care to stable bedding options, the equine mouth, and many more.”

Projects are displayed for public viewing. Photo by The United States Pony Clubs.

She commended the participants’ curiosity and commitment to their horses’ health and well-being. “We hope these young minds will eventually be leaders in the equine field and consider careers in veterinary medicine, equine research, or education,” she added.

Research project fair judge Shawna White, director of digital technology at Kentucky Equine Research, agrees with the importance of nurturing talent. “As the world leaders in equine nutrition, Kentucky Equine Research is proud to sponsor the next generation of equine scientists. The projects this year were incredibly well thought out and presented,” she said. “Serving as a judge for the second year in a row, I continue to be incredibly impressed by the work that Pony Club members put into these projects, and as a Pony Club alumna, I am ‘Pony Club Proud’ to be a part of such a wonderful program.”

The USPC Research Project Fair is open to Pony Club members of all ages and certification levels, and Seger is proud to point out that there is no entry fee to participate. She feels that the activity is a great way for members to participate in a national-level event, especially with the addition of the virtual option.

“Participants in both formats highlight the Research Project Fair as an opportunity to apply skills they are learning in their school science classes, as well as studying for future Pony Club certifications,” she says. “Overall, it provides a very supportive educational environment for Pony Club endeavors and beyond.”

The USPC Research Fair competition is held at the beginning of every year during the USPC Convention. Look for upcoming Research Project Fair details here on the Pony Club website and start thinking about what equine topics you might like to research!

Abigail G. presenting her USPC Research Fair Project. Photo by The United States Pony Clubs.

2022 USPC Research Project Fair winners:

Individual Experimental Project (9-10 years of age)

First place: “Can Horses Talk?” presented by Annabelle M., Intermountain Region

Individual Experimental Project (11-13 years of age)

First place: “Effectiveness of Wound Care Options” presented by Bella E., Old Dominion Region

Individual Experimental Project (14-17 years of age)

First place: “ASIP and MC1R Research Project” presented by Abigail G., Northeast Region

Individual Literature Review (9-10 years of age)

First place: “Muzzle Mysteries: What Does That Lip Scrunching Mean?” presented by Mae B., Midwest Region

Individual Literature Review (11-13 years of age)

First place: “Body Condition Score” presented by Juliana D., Sierra Pacific Region

Individual Literature Review (14-17 years of age)

First place: “Lub-Dup” presented by Michaela F., Midwest Region

Second place: “Equine Narcolepsy” presented by Alaina M., Midwest Region

2022 USPC Research Project Fair Winners (Virtual):

Individual Experimental Project (9-10 years of age)

First place: “Straight From the Horse’s Mouth (and Other Body Parts)” presented by Aubree S., Lake Shore Region

Second place: “Saddle and Tack Care” Riley Y., Southern California Region

Individual Experimental Project (11-13 years of age)

First place: “Does Compost Really Work?” presented by Charlotte H., Midwest Region

Group Experimental Project

First place: “Which Bedding Will Keep Your Pony Dry” presented by Mae L. and Sophia L., Midwest Region

Individual Literature Review (11-13 years of age)

First place: “Scraping the Surface of Horse Genetics” presented by Melody D., Southwest Region

Individual Literature Review (25 years of age and above)

First place: “Heat Conditions and Related Illnesses and Mitigation” presented by Kathy C., Southwest Region

This article about the Research Project Fair was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Discover USPC magazine. Read more content from that issue.

If you are interested in participating in the USPC Research Project Fair in the future, please check out the instructions under “Activities and Contests” on the Opportunities, Grants, and Awards page.

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