In 1984, the U.S. Eventing team won the gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, and from that moment on Diane Bird and her husband Art Bird were hooked. Two years later they watched top riders compete at Chesterland Horse Trials and shortly after that, their first volunteer opportunity opened at a local show in New Jersey in 1988. They have been volunteering ever since.
For over 31 years, Art and Diane Bird have devoted their lives to volunteering, and this past year, Diane recorded 307 hours and 31 minutes on eventingvolunteers.com to earn the 2019 USEA Volunteer of the Year.
A former eighth-grade science teacher, Diane and her husband have slowly migrated south since their retirement. Originally from Abescon, New Jersey, the couple moved to Lexington, Virginia in 1999 where they were members of the organizing committee with Brian and Penny Ross for Virginia Horse Trials. In September 2017, they permanently moved to Aiken, South Carolina, giving them easy access to volunteering opportunities up and down the East Coast. “We do as many recognized and unrecognized shows as we can. So, I really don’t think I can pick a favorite,” said Diane.
Although unable to choose a favorite event, she does have a couple of favorite volunteer roles. “I love to dressage scribe as I always learn something. [But,] I like starting cross-country best, as you get to talk to everyone.”
A fan of margaritas, corgi dogs, and gardening, Diane explains what she likes to do when she’s not scribing in dressage or starting cross-country. “[I like to] ride my Arabian mare, Flame, while Art rides his paint mare, Peylone. [We also enjoy] spending time with our two retired geldings, Skip and Orie. Other than our horses, we have two corgis, George and Millie, who are the love of our lives!” Her list of interests continued with, “transporting rescue dogs from high kill shelters to foster homes, and helping take care of our flower gardens at home.”
The owner and founder of Equiglas, Diane also runs a small business. “I turn client photos of their horses or dogs into stained glass panels or sun catchers.”
With four horses, two dogs, a small business, and a new national title - there’s not much Diane Bird can’t do. Between her and Art, they’ve clocked in over 1,177 hours on eventingvolunteers.com since December 1, 2016. She’s the second-highest ranked volunteer on the volunteer all-time leaderboard with 639 hours and 33 minutes, and Art is fourth highest with 538 hours and 59 minutes.
“Worry more about enjoying the race than winning it,” is Diane’s life motto and her race of volunteering was the best in the nation in 2019.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport, the unsung heroes, and the people who make it possible to keep the sport alive. In efforts to recognize the dedication, commitment, and hard work that volunteers put into eventing, USEA formed the Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) in 2015. In 2017, an online management portal was designed for volunteers, organizers, and volunteer coordinators at EventingVolunteers.com (available as an app for iOS and Android).
Volunteer incentives include national and area recognition, year-end awards with ribbons, cash prizes, and trophies, a top ten USEA Volunteer leaderboard, and a Volunteer of the Year award which is given to the volunteer who tops the leaderboard by accumulating the most volunteer hours over the USEA competition year. Click here to learn more about the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program.
The USEA would like to thank Sunsprite Warmbloods for sponsoring the Volunteer Incentive Program.
This year, the Area VI Championships took place on a sweltering weekend in Ramona, California at the Copper Meadows Horse Trials. In order to qualify to compete in the Area VI Championships in 2020, riders had to earn two MERs at the level at an event in Area VI during the qualifying period from August 1, 2019 to August 18, 2020.
Wildfires are currently ravaging the West Coast of the United States. According to the state of California, since the beginning of the year, there have been nearly 7,900 wildfires that have burned over 3.4 million acres in California. Since August 15, when California’s fire activity elevated, there have been 25 fatalities and nearly 5,400 structures destroyed. In Washington wildfires have burned over 626,000 acres, 181 homes had been lost, and one death occurred as a result. In Oregon, over 1 million acres were burned, and about 40,000 people were evacuated, with about 500,000 people in evacuation warning areas.
“There are people who want to be right and people who want to get better.” Tamie Smith is one of the latter. A member of the 2019 Pan American Games gold medal-winning team with multiple successes through the five-star level, Smith’s career is propelled by a desire for continued improvement and a commitment to good horsemanship.
Having this historic competition close isn't the right result for the sport, and the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is working hard to find a solution. The organizer and landowners operate exceptional events on a beautiful piece of land. We are deeply sensitive to the history of the word "plantation" and its connection to slavery; however, this property has no known connections to slavery and was instead named after 'plantings' on the property.