It always helps to see a warm and friendly face when heading to warm up for that all-important test or jump round. In this series, the United States Evening Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to feature those around us who help make these events happen, the volunteers. Without them horse shows and programs could not succeed, and these volunteers go above and beyond to make sure every rider feels comfortable and confident. Do you know a volunteer who should be nominated as Volunteer of the Month? We are looking for our next feature. Email your tips to [email protected].
This month’s USEA Volunteer of the Month didn’t grow up around horses or riding since she was little. In fact, Margaret Potorski didn’t put a foot in the horse world until her daughter, Faith, decided she wanted to ride as a little girl. It was Faith who brought Margaret into the horse world, and now Margaret can’t imagine life without horses and volunteering! She is more than deserving of this month’s Volunteer of the Month honor and we were so excited to sit down and chat with this very special volunteer.
At the age of eight, Faith joined the United States Pony Club (USPC) Pentucket Pony Club and didn't even own a pony. At the time, Margaret didn’t know anything about horses but she wanted to learn so she began to volunteer within the Pony Club. Margaret fondly remembers her first role; “I oversaw the snack bags and mucking the paddocks for the Pony Club - very glamorous!” Margaret, of course, had to accompany her daughter everywhere because not only could Faith not drive herself, but Margaret also wanted to be there if something happened. With her daughter’s increased commitment in Pony Club, Margaret’s knowledge and time volunteering grew as well. Margaret truly credits her time spent with the Pony Club as the spark behind her passion for the sport and for volunteering.
After a few years with the Pony Club, Margaret decided to join the local West Newbury Riding and Driving Club as a volunteer before she signed on as a board member for the Essex County Horse Organization (ECHO) in Essex County, Massachusetts. It was there that Margaret, along with the other board members, spearheaded the organization of new local schooling shows and lower level events. Whether it was assisting with building the Barbie-themed tadpole jumps, painting and decorating before the event, or even organizing the shows, Margaret was there every step of the way lending her time and passion to help these shows succeed.
Over the years, Margaret has volunteered at some of the biggest events on the East Coast doing just about every job imaginable. She has sat in the passenger seat scribing, spent nights decorating courses, directed trucks where to park, and even jump judged all day. Organizers who Margaret volunteers for added, “ If you needed something done, Margaret would always be the first person there to offer help.”
When you ask Margaret what her favorite role to fill is, she quickly responds with, “ring steward!” According to Margaret, “I have a very loud, distinctive voice and I’m good at herding cats,” she said with a chuckle. Margaret loves to work both the show jumping and cross-country warm up and enjoys the challenge of keeping the show on schedule while making sure all the riders are happy and know when they are leaving the start box. It takes talent - a talent Margaret most definitely has!
In fact, while most eventers are excited to kick off 2019 in the saddle, Margaret is excited to kick off the volunteer season. This weekend you can find Margaret at not one, not two, but three events! Yesterday, she served as the stadium warm-up steward at the Apple Tree Farm schooling show in Aiken, South Carolina, today and tomorrow she is volunteering at the inaugural Eventing Showcase at Bruce’s Field in Aiken, and finally on Sunday Margaret is lending her volunteering expertise to Sporting Days where she will be running the cross-country warm up. How many of you can say you have volunteered at three different events in one weekend?
On top of all her volunteering, Margaret now works at a horse-related company too, quite the change from her previous non-horse life. Horsepower Technologies® is an animal healthcare and biotech company that produces special orthotics to help horses recover from injuries safer and faster. She proudly added, “I am the first non-founding employee.” Even though Margaret now plays double duty at events as a horse show mom and Horsepower Technologies® rep, she doesn’t let it stop her from volunteering. She already declared that, although she will be wearing both the mom and Horsepower®hat at the Carolina International this month, she is still excited to volunteer as well. Not many people have the dedication or drive that Margaret does to do whatever she can to help.
It is easy to hear the passion in her voice when she talks about the sport of Eventing and volunteering. Margaret explained, “I just love the sport and the volunteers are what make it happen. Whether you’re helping decorate or even simply helping park trailers, each volunteer is special. People give up their whole day just to help this sport succeed.” And why does she keep coming back for more? “Oh, that is easy - the people! Everyone of any age or experience. The people of the sport are so amazing and I love being involved in such a special community,” she said.
It really is easy to see how much of an impact Margaret has made on the eventing community. She sure has left her stamp and from the looks of it, she isn’t slowing down any time soon! Margaret is a pillar of the Area I eventing community and beyond and is more than deserving of this month’s nomination. Be sure to be on the lookout for her not only this weekend but at events all up and down the East Coast this spring because chances are, if she can, Margaret will be there. When you do see her, be sure to give her a huge thank you because the eventing community would not be the same without her!
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.
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